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At least according
to ESPN
and Jim Hendry.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been busy this
offseason and he expects the team’s 2009 payroll to be a bit higher
than last year, despite the national recession.

“We’re in a situation that’s a little unique,” Hendry said Wednesday
during a stop on the club’s winter caravan. “Even in the situation in
the country and the ownership situation up for grabs and the Tribune
declaring bankruptcy, our payroll went up slightly.”

Chicago’s payroll last season was $130.5 million, fifth-highest in the
major leagues.

I think ESPN is using the “payroll will go up” notion a little too
liberally. The payroll is higher, yes, technically. But that is
because the Cubs have added Rich Harden for a full year and re-signed
Ryan Dempster to a much more expensive deal than last year. Also,
salaries for guys like Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos
Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Ted Lilly are increasing year over
year.

So, yes, the payroll “went up slightly,” as Hendry said. But that
doesn’t mean the Cubs are appreciably better in terms of paid talent,
as the headline suggests.

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