Chicago Cubs’ 2012 Payroll Was 10th in MLB and Other Bullets

I was at the store yesterday in my Cubs jacket with The Little Girl when I ran into a BN’er (Andy), who recognized me and stopped me to say hello. It was one of the coolest things ever, if you ignore the part where The Little Girl was chewing, inexplicably, on the metal backing behind her in the shopping cart. So, while I appreciated Andy’s thoughts on any ability I might have as a writer, I’m not so sure he’ll offer high marks on my ability as a parent.

  • MLB has released 2012′s final payroll numbers, which are the actual, final calculations of “40-man rosters and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions.” The Cubs came in at number 10, with a total official payroll of $107,708,021, which obviously includes money owed to Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Pena in 2012. If the Cubs’ 2013 payroll comes in at around $90 million, as is expected, they could fall in the 14th to 17th range in 2013, depending on what other teams do. The 2013 number, whatever it ends up being, isn’t going to concern me too much. But, as I’ve said before, if the rebuild is going well, the figure is going to creep up of its own volition in 2014 … and by virtue of some free agent spending/Major League trade acquisitions.
  • Rick Hummel looks at the various moves/rosters in the NL Central, as things stand right now, and notes how it’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the teams (arguably the biggest moves was the Astros moving to the American League – *rimshot*).
  • Carrie Muskat offers some Winter League updates, noting that Tony Campana hasn’t yet put it together in Venezuela, while Luis Valbuena’s scorching start has cooled a bit. Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon isn’t dominating the stat sheet (though reports from the time of the draft said he was throwing hard, and the Cubs obviously liked what their scouts were telling them), but Junior Lake continues to rip it up in the Dominican Republic.
  • Marc Hulet and Mike Newman did a prospects chat at FanGraphs, and among their thoughts: (1) Oscar Taveras is a better future fantasy prospect than Albert Almora or Jorge Soler, but Taveras (a Cardinals’ farmhand) is considered to be the top offensive prospect in baseball by some, so that’s no real surprise (it’s a compliment to be in the question, I suppose); and (2) the Cubs have no motivation to trade Anthony Rizzo. Duh.
  • The MLBullets at BCB react, among other things, to the would-be R.A. Dickey trade.
  • As you do your holiday shopping, might I suggest a lovely shirt from the BN store? They’re the perfect outerwear for someone who already has everything.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

91 responses to “Chicago Cubs’ 2012 Payroll Was 10th in MLB and Other Bullets”

  1. Stinky Pete

    I think if the child is in the cart, you have won at parenting. Great job, Brett!

    1. hansman1982

      yes, chewing on the metal backing is much preferred to every food item in sight

  2. Myles - WCSW

    You have a (3), but there is no third item.

    Also, why on earth would the Cubs think about trading Rizzo?

    1. hansman1982

      why on Earth would the Cubs ever think about trading Castro – yet his name is thrown around about as often as Soriano

      1. terencemann

        I understand musing about trading Castro since the return could be huge and his future is kind of uncertain.

  3. Chris

    Thanks for the quality articles everyday, B-Tizzle.

    Cubs were 41-48 when Campana played in 2012 (I’ve been waiting for the right moment to use that stat). He’s pretty much the best player on the team if you go by that, so I hope he starts lighting it up in winter ball.

    1. JulioZuleta

      When I saw that record I thought to myself “41-48? See, Campana sucks.” It was really depressing a couple of seconds later when I realized that 41-48 is probably better than anyone else on the team.

      1. Chris

        It is if you don’t count Soto. Cubs were 26-26 when he played before they shipped him off.

        1. Frank

          So THAT’S where the season went wrong!! Play Soto every day and we’re a .500 team! In that case, we should even have played him on offdays, holidays, birthdays, nowadys, doomsdays, yesterdays, Faradays, everydays, playdays and paydays too . . .

      2. Stinky Pete

        Shoot. I actually have to work today, but I think that would be a fun project to figure out.
        I’m not much of a hockey fan, (Who is, these days?) but I really like the +/- stat. Look, we’re not saying player x is better that player y, BUT they do score a lot more when player x is out there.”

        1. Cubbie Blues

          Is this what you were looking for Pete? I can send the excel if you want it. Looks like Reed Johnson had the best record for the Cubs.

          Player Appearance Record Starting Record
          W L W L
          Bryan LaHair 49 81 35 51
          Tony Campana 41 48 18 20
          Dave Sappelt 8 18 6 10
          David DeJesus 54 94 43 82
          Ian Stewart 20 35 18 31
          Starlin Castro 61 101 60 101
          Darwin Barney 60 96 56 91
          Anthony Rizzo 34 53 34 51
          Alfonzo Soriano 54 97 53 96
          Brett Jackson 13 31 12 26
          Welington Castillo 12 40 10 36
          Steve Clevenger 24 44 21 31
          Adrian Cardenas 12 33 3 6
          Luis Valbuena 37 53 31 43
          Josh Vitters 11 25 8 16
          Joe Mather 38 65 20 30
          Koyie Hill 2 9 2 8
          Blake Lalli 1 5 1 2
          Anthony Recker 7 15 7 7
          Jeff Baker 35 48 21 27
          Blake DeWitt 4 14 2 3
          Marlon Byrd 11 2 11 2
          Reed Johnson 36 40 ? ?

          1. cub2014

            For this year I like reed johnson, he plays hard career .280 hitter?
            On campana here is 1st 2 seasons 400-600 ab for other top leadoff hitters
            like campana: avg .263 .obp .306
            brett butler avg .229 obp .312
            bob dernier avg .260 obp .320
            mike bourn avg .240 obp .294

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              “One of these things is not like the others,
              One of these things just doesn’t belong,
              Can you tell which thing is not like the others
              By the time I finish my song?”

              (Hint: look at differences while I do an extended guitar solo. ROCK ON!)

              1. Noah

                Ooh ooh ooh, I bet it’s the age at which those first 2 seasons occurred!

                1. cub2014

                  after 2 seasons brett butler age 26
                  bob dernier age 25
                  micheal bourn age 25
                  oh and tony campana age 26
                  I am not saying he is going to be great, but he is almost free
                  and if he does well then you trade him or play him. but he
                  has some value for 2014 or maybe not but at least you find out

              2. DarthHater

                All except Tony Campana have at least one “B” in their name?

              3. Chris

                Brett Butler had a terrible 90s sitcom?

          2. hansman1982

            Wait, so what you are saying is that Campana is worth more than Campana? 54-97!?!?!?! WHAT A BUM!

            1. Cas-castro

              He’s worth more if his first name is Scott…

          3. Stinky Pete

            That’s awesome. Thanks!!

    2. DarthHater

      Better yet, by my count, the Cubs were 18-20 in games in which Campana started, which is a more meaningful stat than games in which he appeared. ;-)

      1. Chris

        I decided to factor in his overall contributions like late inning pinch-running and base-stealing which are where he’s really important.

        1. DarthHater

          Yea, but it’s also possible he’s being inserted late in games that are already lost.

          1. Chris

            That’s true. It’s still about the same ratio either way for him though.

        2. cub2014

          do you have those numbers i would be curious in what they show

          1. DarthHater
    3. hansman1982

      Ok, of the games the Cubs won while Tony scored a run (ergo, had a positive impact on the score), there were 6 games where the run differential minus his R and RBI was 0 or a negative number (therefore he “caused” the winning run (nevermind the whole RBI is a team stat thing)).

      Last year he had 41 games in which he had a PA (fairly evenly split 20-21 w/l)
      In 18 of his starts the Cubs won
      21 they lost
      23 of the games he came in after the first inning they won
      27 times they lost
      26 of his 89 games Tony scored (or batted in) a run

      What does any of this mean? Either sabermetrics is dead wrong and a guy with a .273 wOBA broke it or absolutely nothing.

      1. Chris

        I think all we can say for sure is that Campana has an enormous glove.

      2. JulioZuleta

        You know your team’s in bad shape when this much discussion is given to a 6th OF.

        1. hansman1982

          BUT HE HAS AN sCRAP+ of ELEVENTY!!!! He hustles, he has heart, he knows how to win!!!!!!

          ZOMG!! Just give him the MVP already.

          1. college_of_coaches

            That’s only if you use Fangraph’s sCRAP+, which is problematic because it overestimates mojo and does not factor agency in its calculation of hustle.

            1. blackmaskreplica


          2. JulioZuleta

            Haha. sCRAP+. The stat invented by delusional Cubs fans trying to convince themselves that their favorite player is actually worth something. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe baseball’s all time sCRAP+ leaderboard is:
            1. Ryan Theriot
            2. Reed Johnson
            3. Tony Campana
            4. Mike Fontenot

        2. cub2014


  4. Cesar

    Lake hit a grand slam yesterday and has his average at .324 with a .394 OBP.

  5. BD

    The only thing he needs to figure out is how to get on-base consistently enough to take advantage of his speed. Unfortunately, that is a really big thing.

    1. BD

      Sorry, thought i was replying to Chris’ comment about Campana. So to clarify- I am talking about Camapana (although this “on-base” comment could go for most of our Cubbies).

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Well, Campana’s batting eye was never great, and it’s pretty obvious that just batting practice fastballs in the strike zone can get him out, so it’s tough to see how he’ll get too high an OBP. Even guys like Brett Gardner and Brett Butler (high OBP, low slugging) hit the ball hard when pitchers leave/left it over the heart of the plate: but Campana basically gets the bat knocked out of his hands, it seems.

        And, yeah, batting eye has been an issue with a lot of Cub farmhands.

        1. cub2014

          again campana batting average has been .260 and .265
          in 2 partial years hit 300 in the minors his on base percentage
          was around .310 this year. 5 more additional on bases
          (bunts or better contact) last year his OBP would be .335.
          Yes he has zero power unlike Brett Jackson, but jackson
          hit .250 in the minors and not even .200 in the bigs. while
          jackson is down at AAA working things out why not see
          what you have with campana. he hustles he drives other
          pitchers crazy he is free. we are not winning in 2013 why wouldnt
          we see what we have.

          1. hansman1982

            Getting on base 5 more times would be an 8% increase. Basically, we know what we have – a guy with 80 speed but not much else.

            If you were to extend his PA out to a full season he’d have to get on base 17-18 more times then he has shown the ability to do so.

            1. cub2014

              if he would have reached base 5 more times in his
              185 plate appearances he would of had a .335
              on base percentage. 5 extra times isnt easy to do
              and maybe he cant do it, but you say we should never
              find out?

              1. cub2014

                I pitched in college (small school wasnt that good) I know it has an affect on a pitcher when someone like that gets on base. extra throw overs less concentration on the hitter more fastballs for the #2
                hitter castro would have monster numbers with campana on base again if he can get on base enough.

                1. Kyle

                  It’s not hard for us to check to see how MLB hitters and pitchers do with runners on 1b vs. not. The difference is not very large and is mostly due to the defense not being in optimal position.

                  The guys who make it through the professional pressure cookers in the minors and into the majors tend not to have the same issues as the small college guys.

                2. DocPeterWimsey

                  In the case of pitchers, the more probable issue is not loss of concentration, but a change in motion. Pitching from the stretch and pitching from the windup are somewhat different things. FanGraphs recently analyzed this for Greinke: the rap is that he doesn’t pitch well with runners in scoring position. It turns out that the real difference is the location of his pitches when he throws from the stretch vs. the windup: and he frequently pitches from the stretch with men in scoring position.

                  For batters, as Kyle notes, the difference is never large and it never predicts the difference for the next month, next half a season or next season. It’s just binomial error. The affect of speedsters also is weak: a few analyses suggest that there is an increase in both walks and K’s, but that makes sense given that guys deliberately take the first coupe of pitches and there often are pitchouts. It’s not a really strong effect, however.

              2. Frank

                One of the reasons he only had 185 plate appearances is his inability to get on base; plus, he’s not a very good defensive player. His speed covers up for his bad angles, positioning and inability to read the ball.

  6. RoughRiider


    I always suspected you were making money hand over fist and now I see you have piles of $100.00s to take pictures of. Was that your Christmas spending fund?

    1. Myles - WCSW

      He must come from old money, too, because I haven’t see that style of hundos in a long while

      1. terencemann

        Maybe he found the jars of money he buried in the backyard anticipating Y2K?

        1. hansman1982

          well shit, better get those reburied for Friday…

          1. JulioZuleta

            I have my last final on Friday. I’ve been in the library 32 straight days. If the world ends on Friday I’ll be VERY pissed.

            1. Brian

              Here’s to hoping it passes on by and you have a good finals!!!!

          2. DarthHater


  7. JulioZuleta

    A little random, but have we heard anything about a new deal with Jaye Chapman? I didn’t think it would take this long.

  8. CubFan Paul

    No, comments about the $107M…

    1. Chris

      Cubs paid over a million dollars per loss if that’s what you’re getting at.

      1. JulioZuleta

        It would be good to pay a lot per loss…The Yanks have had seasons where they pay $4 million per loss. It’s when you’re paying a lot per win that you’re in trouble.

    2. IACubRob

      Shows you how hard it must be to get started in an MLB front career if the guy who buried a franchise in the ground can immediately get a new job. Pretty sure the guy who lost 2 billion for UBS wasn’t immediately hired at JP Chase Morgan.

  9. FFP

    Is this the method used to compile payroll luxury tax, too? Do they pro-rate (subtracting out) the total money paid to players on the DL or sent down? I always get confused when I see these numbers; and (mostly for Yankees and the Yankees-West (Dodgers)) can’t figure out if the “final number” includes the tax for those teams.

    I was little surprised to learn numbers like the Zambrano money are included.

    Loved the phrase “creep up of its own volition”; sort of a cross between Lincoln’s second inaugural address and a seventies invasion-from-outer-space movie.

  10. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

    I like Harold Reynolds but he just suggested a Peter Bourjous for Matt Garza….really???
    What the hell is he smokin?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      The “speed is more important than OBP” drug.

      1. cub2014

        I agree, compare micheal bourn (if I had to pick I would want bourn today)
        career BA .274 OBP .338 but after 600 big league at bats BA .240 OBP .294
        those numbers are way below campana’s so far.

        1. TheCubsFanFormerlyKnownAsJeff

          Two thoughts, why would you want to waste the money on Bourn when DeJesus matches his numbers, minus the steals for the fraction of the money and I like Bourjous as a premium fielding center fielder but the hitting is below average, no way he is worth a Matt Garza straight up, no way!

  11. cub2014

    I absolutely dont think campana is the long term answer, but
    as of yet no one knows.

  12. rcleven

    Why no love for Sapplet? Seems to be putting up good numbers in the Venz. winter league.

    1. cub2014

      I like him, he would be OK platoon with campana or dejesus. what are
      his stats in venezuela?

      1. rcleven


  13. Andy

    Wow, leading off the bullets of BleacherNation…I am honored. Great meeting you Brett, and I didn’t even realize your daughter was trying to eat the shopping cart. All I know is she sat quitely the whole time…something my children are not too good at.

  14. baseballet

    The Cubs’ payroll in comparison to the teams above them concerns me, not because I don’t expect the Cubs to increase payroll in 2014, but rather because the gulf between the Cubs and the top spending teams is vast.

    The difference between the Cubs, at #10 on the list, versus Washington at #16, is only $11M. But the difference between the Cubs and six spots above them (The Angels at #4) is $52M.

    We’re seeing a crowded middle of the pack with the Cubs, Cards, Mets, Brewers, etc… and then huge step up once you get to the top five payrolls.