Friday, December 30, 2011

The $100 million payroll

There appears to be a consensus in Twins-blogland: The Jason Marquis signing signals that the 2012 payroll is indeed "hard-capped" to $100 million, and that's a betrayal of the fans and a detriment to the team.

I have two basic quarrels with this conclusion:

1) I see no reason to doubt that, for the right player at the right terms, the Twins would (have) again expanded their budget plan. The Twins continued to publicly hold the door open for Michael Cuddyer and/or Jason Kubel even after signing Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham. As matters transpired, both hitters got better offers than the Twins thought they were worth, but had either said yes, I'm sure Terry Ryan would have made "the three-block walk" to get the OK from Jim Pohlad.

2) The pitching market is hideous for buyers. Four years and $56 million for Mark Buhrele? Five years, $77.5 million for C.J. Wilson? No thank you, and I don't care what the budget is.

Terry Ryan appears to be hewing
to a $100 million player payroll for
2012. This is not a disaster.
The notion that the Twins would be well served to throw a big package at Edwin Jackson is laughable. This is a guy who has gone through six organizations in nine major league seasons. Teams get him and literally can't wait to dump him on somebody else. And if/when Jackson gets a four-year, $40 million deal, he won't be so readily dumpable. It was a lot easier for a team to trade for him when he cost a couple million or so than it will be when he's pulling in five times as much and carries obligations beyond the current season.

I dislike pieces opining that somebody else ought to spend more -- a team, the fans, whoever. It's easy to spend somebody's else's coin. And most of us writer types aren't particularly adept with finances anyway (which has something to do with why we're writers).

Look, just because the Twins spent $117 million or so in 2011 (and exceeded their budget in the process) does not obligate them, morally or otherwise, to do the same in 2012. This is not a perfect analogy, but I'll use it anyway: My wife and I spent some extra money last March and went to spring training. That doesn't mean we have to do it again next March.

And we enjoyed what we got for the extra expense a lot more than the Twins enjoyed what they got for theirs.


  1. I will take issue with you on a number of points The Twins now have the 6th highest ticket price in Baseball. Back at the Dome they were in the bottom third. Last year,the Twins sold more Tickets then 26 other teams. That includes a number of major markets such as Boston, Mets, Angles, Dodgers, Cubs and both World Series Teams. Back in September during the Season Ticket renewal period, Dave St.Peter stated that the payroll would remain about the same as last year. Yes, Twins Fans and especially the Season Ticket holders have good reason to be angry. One last point, the price for single game tickets will again be going up.

  2. Edward, I agree with you that the Twins shouldn't spend just for the sake of spending, or to achieve a payroll number that meets or exceeds what they were at last year, just for the sake of being able to say that they increased payroll. That's stupid spending, and this organization should not engage in it.

    I think what troubles fans is that, as Dave just mentioned, ticket prices are still increasing, there's still a waiting list for season tickets, and Target Field will continue to sell out as long as the team is decent. With all of that, would it be too much to ask for something better than what was essentially a Jason Marquis for Kevin Slowey swap, as the (so far) only starting rotation change? Yes, Baker and Liriano can be very good, and I hope they are great in 2012. But with Pavano (even if he eats up innings), Blackburn and Marquis accounting for the other 60 percent of the time, fans have a right to want more.

    Simply stated, there is something lost in translation between the front office's increases in ticket prices and the consistent sellouts, and the reduction in payroll coming off a 99 loss season in which there still a few spots where there could be significant upgrades.

    And I do think it's a detriment to the team if this is really a "hard cap" that prevents Terry Ryan from spending another couple million to shore up the bullpen.

  3. I think as Ed pointed out, there really aren't good ways to spend that money, in my opinion without making a long term commitment.

    If they don't have a healthy and nearly all star like M&M, they aren't going to be competitive and thus, having another long term contract would only hamper what needs to be a rebuilding process.

    They also don't really have a lot of talent in the minors so really aren't in position to be trading for talent. However if they're competitive, I think they can rent some players this year and expand the payroll to make a stretch run.

  4. You are right on. Why expect the Twins to spend $$$ for the sake of spending money? If the Twins are competitive and in contention maybe they will find money for the right player later. But their walking wounded have lots to prove first.