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Cubs Payroll Blues


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#1 Ecogeek

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:07 AM

After repeatedly defending team ownership and management on the significantly reduced payroll, I (like many of you, I suspect) was pretty disheartened to hear Theo confirm last week that this year's $107 million on-the-field payroll was maxed out (source). Making matters worse - this payroll puts us 3rd in the division while every other team in the division is small-market enough to receive "competitive balance" draft picks.  This doesn't bode well for being competitive in the future unless things change.

 

I think my biggest problem with this is how many times we've heard Theo or Tom Ricketts say that if they wanted to go after a free agent that the money would be made available to do so.  Also, I have a hard time seeing Theo signing on 2 years ago if he knew he was going to be this constrained financially, so part of me wonders how much truth there is to what Theo said about payroll being maxed out.  Was he just saying this to provide a greater motivation to let the Wrigley renovation plans go through (largely) unscathed?

 

Yesterday, during the reveal of the new renovation drawings, Tom Ricketts said that "we anticipate increasing spending on the baseball side as soon as we know what we can do with this plan." (according to this tweet from Dave Kaplan).  While this is somewhat heartening, the million dollar question is "How much?"

 

A big part of the renovation plan is bringing in increased advertising dollars through things like the proposed jumbotron.  Even if every increased dollar of ad revenue from the renovation went to the on-field payroll (unlikely since the $500 million project needs to be paid off somehow) would that increase payroll enough to put us comfortably atop the NL Central?  Would there be enough of a difference between the Cubs' payroll and those of the rest of the division to make up for the fact that we're the one team that doesn't get included in the competitive balance lottery?

 

The one thing that makes seasons like last year's tolerable is the belief that it's a  temporary measure in order to build the foundation for a strong team going forward.  It's not fun to watch your team get pounded by the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  I'm still hopeful that "the plan" will yield a young, talented team that can compete for the division, league and world series titles, but with a max payroll of $107 million, that feels a lot more like wishful thinking than it did a couple weeks ago.

 

Is there something I'm not seeing or considering?  Does this cloud have a silver lining?



#2 King Jeff

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:13 AM

Honestly, I think the "payroll is maxed out" thing is a farce, and possibly a negotiating ploy in getting their renovation pushed through. 



#3 Cubbie Blues

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:14 AM

One possibilities is that the debt is being serviced by the revenues right now and when they foresee the club being competitive that will cease.


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#4 hansman1982

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:22 AM

One possibilities is that the debt is being serviced by the revenues right now and when they foresee the club being competitive that will cease.

 

I presented this argument the other day.  Rather than spend a crap ton more money to still not contend and give up prospects, clear out some of the crud and build it Dallas Green style.

 

Chris' post today was well-timed.



#5 Cubbie Blues

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:41 AM

 

One possibilities is that the debt is being serviced by the revenues right now and when they foresee the club being competitive that will cease.

 

I presented this argument the other day.  Rather than spend a crap ton more money to still not contend and give up prospects, clear out some of the crud and build it Dallas Green style.

 

Chris' post today was well-timed.

 

Some would take issue with the "all revenue will go back into the system". I would argue that it still is (which could be argued it isn't). Would it be ingenuous? Yes, but, semantically still correct. Everyone likes when Epstein uses semantics to always be correct but leading people to think something else, but take issue if Ricketts is doing the same thing. If we are going to be crap why put more money into that crap team.

 

On the other side if that money were to be saved for later years and have a $210M payroll for a couple of years that would be pretty sweet as well, but it wouldn't be able to be sustainable and when it went back down to say $150M everyone would start grousing that Ricketts is getting cheap again without looking that the $150M is still a bump up from where it had been.


"It's not the dress that makes you look fat, it's the fat that makes you look fat." - Al Bundy

 

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#6 Caleb

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:51 AM

As we know, the complexities of baseball finances are enormous.  How much do they have to pay in debt? Can that fluctuate? How can they shift money from other sources and ventures if they needed to and what would that cost them to do so? Is there a way to pay more now (rather than spend unnecessarily on short term FAs) that will free up more money later?  I still believe, without proof of course, that if a "piece" of the winning team comes available and needs money, that they money aspect will be there.  

 

And who knows, maybe there's something in their deal where they can pre-pay--like a mortgage--and reduce interest costs in the future.  For example, rather than spend $1 on a player that won't be part of the winning future, they could spend $1 on debt that would free up *$2* for 3 years down the road. Is that putting money into the Cubs? Yes. Is that a smart Cubs and business decision? Potentially.  Given how complex all this is, the uncertainty of the future, and how little we know of the details of all the financial arrangements, we're basically left trusting the good intentions of the key decisionmakers here. 

 

I, for one, trust this ownership and management.  Every move that we can "see" has been the right one, and it seems unfair to assume that the ones we *can't* see aren't ultimately in the best interests of putting a consistent, World Series-winning product on the field in the near future. 



#7 hansman1982

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 09:56 AM

 

 

One possibilities is that the debt is being serviced by the revenues right now and when they foresee the club being competitive that will cease.

 

I presented this argument the other day.  Rather than spend a crap ton more money to still not contend and give up prospects, clear out some of the crud and build it Dallas Green style.

 

Chris' post today was well-timed.

 

Some would take issue with the "all revenue will go back into the system". I would argue that it still is (which could be argued it isn't). Would it be ingenuous? Yes, but, semantically still correct. Everyone likes when Epstein uses semantics to always be correct but leading people to think something else, but take issue if Ricketts is doing the same thing. If we are going to be crap why put more money into that crap team.

 

On the other side if that money were to be saved for later years and have a $210M payroll for a couple of years that would be pretty sweet as well, but it wouldn't be able to be sustainable and when it went back down to say $150M everyone would start grousing that Ricketts is getting cheap again without looking that the $150M is still a bump up from where it had been.

 

 

Ya, the payroll pre-Epstein followed what team will often do, bump payroll up a ways and then let it float down the next year.  It's very telling that payroll and player spending crashed when Theo took over.

 

I think Theo has been very clear that free agency isn't the answer people believe it is.  My research seems to indicate that it really does stink, except if you sign 1-2 year deals or the mega-stars (which very few teams can afford to consistently sign the mega-stars (and hell, even the Yankees and Dodgers haven't been as spendy on FA as is the common belief)).

 

The best way to build a team that wont go from contention to crap to contention to crap and instead is close to contention every year, is through a strong farm system.



#8 Cubbie Blues

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:42 AM

 

 

 

One possibilities is that the debt is being serviced by the revenues right now and when they foresee the club being competitive that will cease.

 

I presented this argument the other day.  Rather than spend a crap ton more money to still not contend and give up prospects, clear out some of the crud and build it Dallas Green style.

 

Chris' post today was well-timed.

 

Some would take issue with the "all revenue will go back into the system". I would argue that it still is (which could be argued it isn't). Would it be ingenuous? Yes, but, semantically still correct. Everyone likes when Epstein uses semantics to always be correct but leading people to think something else, but take issue if Ricketts is doing the same thing. If we are going to be crap why put more money into that crap team.

 

On the other side if that money were to be saved for later years and have a $210M payroll for a couple of years that would be pretty sweet as well, but it wouldn't be able to be sustainable and when it went back down to say $150M everyone would start grousing that Ricketts is getting cheap again without looking that the $150M is still a bump up from where it had been.

 

 

Ya, the payroll pre-Epstein followed what team will often do, bump payroll up a ways and then let it float down the next year.  It's very telling that payroll and player spending crashed when Theo took over.

 

I think Theo has been very clear that free agency isn't the answer people believe it is.  My research seems to indicate that it really does stink, except if you sign 1-2 year deals or the mega-stars (which very few teams can afford to consistently sign the mega-stars (and hell, even the Yankees and Dodgers haven't been as spendy on FA as is the common belief)).

 

The best way to build a team that wont go from contention to crap to contention to crap and instead is close to contention every year, is through a strong farm system.

 

I have nothing to add or remove from this.


"It's not the dress that makes you look fat, it's the fat that makes you look fat." - Al Bundy

 

"Ow" - Dylan Bundy


#9 Tommy

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:21 PM

All I know is that I can clearly see a vast improvement in our farm system in only two years, so building from the bottom up seems to be working if that were the intention.  Signing free agents typically means paying more for a player than that player is worth, and usually for more years than you really want him.  It does seem to be pointless to spend a bunch of money on middle of the road FA's and be stuck with them blocking our younger players from graduating to the big leagues, and Joe already pointed out the problem with the super stars.  It seems to be that a lot of the same people that complained so vehemently about being 'stuck' with Soriano are the same ones that are moaning about not signing big name free agents - it really is a no win situation with some folks.

 

Point being - I trust in the FO and whatever they are doing.  The next few years will be the test as to whether they've made the right moves or not.  We've waited 100 years, what's a few more?


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#10 King Jeff

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:21 PM

I agree with what you guys are saying, just want to also point out that I think that if there were free agents that the front office wanted to go after, or a trade they wanted that would increase payroll, but improve the team long-term, then the money would be there.  I think his statements may speak more to the fact that they won't be able to sustain an elevated payroll above this level if they don't get the deals to increase revenue in place, but I don't feel that would stop them from adding a sure-fire building block if the opportunity came up. 



#11 Mike Taylor (no relation)

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 10:55 AM

Even if we dump the farm and trade to be in contention, we'd still have enough money to sign a big name free agent and give out a few extensions...

 

[02.0] LF Jorge Soler

[00.5] CF Julio Borbon (L)

[00.5] RF Giancarlo Stanton

[00.5] 1B Anthony Rizzo (L)

[27.5] 2B Robinson Cano (L)

[16.0] 3B Chase Headley (S)

[05.0] SS Starlin Castro

[00.5] C Welington Castillo

-52.5-

[01.5] Free Agent Catcher

[00.5] In-house CF platoon

[00.5] LF/1B/3B Greg Rohan

[00.5] 2B Logan Watkins (L)

[00.5] Veteran Utility Guy

-3.5-

[18.0] SP David Price (L)

[04.5] SP Jeff Samardzija

[00.5] SP Arodys Vizcaino

[01.5] SP Travis Wood (L)

[11.0] SP Edwin Jackson

-35.5-

[00.5] LR Chris Rusin (L)

[00.5] LR Yoanner Negrin

[00.5] RP Blake Parker

[00.5] RP Michael Bowden

[00.5] RP Frank Batista

[01.5] SU James Russell (L)

[04.0] CL Kyuji Fujikawa

-8.0-

99.5M Payroll

+ Alfonso Soriano's $10M deferred

=

109.5M

 

Traded:

Almora, Baez, Baker, Barney, Camp, DeJesus, Dolis, Feldman, Garza, Hairston, Jackson, Lake, Maples, Marmol, McNutt, Navarro, Schierholtz, Soriano, Szczur, Underwood, Valbuena, Villanueva, Vitters, Vogelbach.



#12 Tommy

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 12:07 PM

Mike - you spend way too much time thinking about this stuff, man.  You've traded away over half of our top 10 prospects, our entire OF, half of our IF and a closer that we couldn't give away right now.  I don't think that is very likely, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say for arguments sake that all those players do get traded.  If that did happen, I can almost 100% guarantee it wouldn't bring us back Stanton, Headley, and Price as there are several other teams out there that would be willing to part with top prospects and middle of the road MLB starters for those players, as well, and as someone else has stated on another one of these trade threads, quantity does not bring back quality - this isn't fantasy baseball.

 

I like your positive thinking, I just don't think it's very likely.


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#13 Mike Taylor (no relation)

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:06 PM

I didn't think too much about it. The whole theme of this topic seemed to be steered towards not having a viable product on the field with a payroll constraint. I was just showing how if we were able to "dump the farm" to fill holes and be competitive, we'd still have enough money under our current threshold. I can't see us using half of our positional starter salary on one player, though.

 

What do I actually believe will happen? Loe, Marmol, and Camp should all be on mop up duty. The problem with that is, that job should only go to one pitcher, not 3. Edwin Jackson has been horrific this season and Scott Feldman seems to be heating up with the weather. Problem with that is, Feldman is on a one year deal, and Jackson is signed for four. Fujikawa was probably playing with pain/aggravation, so the jury is still out on him. Conclusion? We need 3 effective pitchers in the bullpen to accompany Gregg (omg), Russell, and Bowden (Rondon is Rule 5 pick, so we're stuck with him).

 

Feldman will go to the pen when Garza comes back, and Loe will go to AAA. When Fujikawa comes off the DL, Camp will go to AAA. That leaves us with (stats not including today's game):

1. SU Russell (L) [0.00 ERA / 12.1 IP]

2. RP Gregg [0.00 ERA / 6.1 IP]

3. LR Feldman [3.34 ERA / 29.2 IP]

4. RP Bowden [4.26 ERA / 12.2 IP]

5. LR Rondon [5.06 ERA / 10.2 IP]

6. RP Marmol [6.17 ERA / 11.2 IP]

7. CL Fujikawa [12.46 ERA / 4.1 IP] returns from rehab stint in AAA (19 maximum days left to go)

 

We should get bullpen help for next year from a DeJesus or Schierholtz trade with the Royals. I believe we'll be able to get Jarrod Dyson in return if we add Feldman. The Royals have been starting Lorenzo Cain in CF with success, Dyson is older and becomes the odd man out when DeJesus or Schierholtz is added to the roster to platoon with Francoeur (who can't hit righties) in RF.

 

Let's be honest about Carlos Marmol. We'll be lucky to get the return we got for Campana, even if we eat all of Marmol's salary in that trade. Even if there are multiple injuries to bullpens around the league, you gotta think that they'd prefer their in-house options to Marmol.

 

Price and Headley should be traded mid season, but Miami's FO has stated that Stanton won't be traded during the season (yeah, because he's injured half the time and his trade value just dropped). So, the Cubs will more than likely go after Headley, who'll solve their 3B conundrum and extending him would have Javier Baez eventually taking over Barney's spot at 2B, whose stats would project better at that position. But, if a team is going for it in 2013, Headley would help them out and offer better prospects. So, our best bet would be to wait it out and not be active "buyers" until the off season.

 

2014

[05.0] SS Starlin Castro

[10.5] 3B Chase Headley (S) [arb estimate, FA 2015]

[02.0] RF Jorge Soler

[00.5] 1B Anthony Rizzo (L) [arb eligible 2015]

[00.5] C Welington Castillo [arb eligible 2015]

[18.0] LF Alfonso Soriano

[00.5] 2B Javier Baez

[00.5] CF Jarrod Dyson (L) [arb eligible 2015, FA 2018]

-37.5-

[2.5] OF Scott Hairston [2015 FA]

[1.0] OF Julio Borbon (L) [arb estimate, FA 2018]

[1.0] C Jesus Flores, i.e.

[0.5] 2B Logan Watkins (L)

[0.5] 3B Greg Rohan

-5.5-

[04.5] Jeff Samardzija [arb estimate, FA 2016]

[11.0] Edwin Jackson

[01.5] Travis Wood (L) [arb estimate, FA 2017]

[00.5] Arodys Vizcaino [arb eligible 2015, FA 2018]

[00.5] Chris Rusin (L) [arb eligible 2016, FA 2019]

-18.0-

[01.5] SU James Russell (L) [arb estimate, FA 2016]

[04.0] CL Kyuji Fujikawa [2015 club option]

5 pitchers under control = 2.5

-8.0-

=

$69M payroll with plenty of wiggle room (-$8M if Soriano is traded + $6-10M for free agent replacement in LF), $82-85M if we extend Garza or sign a free agent starting pitcher. 






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