The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals not alone in cutting payroll


In a recent article entitled “Is reducing the Cardinals payroll unreasonable”, I reported on partial information from Yahoo.com’s team profiles about how player payrolls were coming together across Major League Baseball for 2009. Since we don’t know opening day rosters yet, this data is not final. Yet it paints a very clear picture of the overall direction the game is heading.

My interest in the subject is to help put into context the projected decline in the St. Louis Cardinals’ payroll this coming season. I firmly believe the team’s economic posture is the single most divisive issue across the Cardinal Nation and many who are complaining seem to lack a basic understanding of the bigger picture that reflects both the state of the US economy and its resulting impact across the totality of MLB.

People don’t need to like it. In an ideal world, we all wish our favorite team would spend more money. But at least take a moment to understand and acknowledge what is happening around you.

As the information below, expertly compiled by “Oquendo11”, attests, the Cardinals are not alone in their 2009 belt-tightening.

Here are some of the key points to be gleaned from the data. The first is most important and relevant to Cardinals fans:

  • Of the 13 teams that had a 2008 payroll above average ($89.6 M), including the Cardinals, only two clubs are increasing their payroll for 2009. Those 13 teams are averaging a decrease of $8.2 M. St. Louis’ projected decline is $8.6 M, almost on the average.
  • Of the 17 teams that had a 2008 payroll below average ($89.6 M), 13 increased their payroll for 2009; the 17 teams averaged an increase of $4.3 M.
  • Of the 15 teams increasing payroll, seven had winning records, seven had losing records, and one had a .500 record last season.
  • Of the 15 teams decreasing payroll, nine had winning records and six had losing records.
  • The 16 teams that had a winning record in 2008 decreased payroll an average of $1.05 M ($16.8 M total).
  • The 13 teams that had a losing record in 2008 decreased payroll an average of $1.63 M ($21.2 M total).
  • The one team with a .500 record in 2008 increased payroll $4 M.
  • Across MLB, the overall payroll stayed about the same, with the average dropping only $1.13 M (to $88.4 M) or a total decrease of $34 M across 30 teams. (Clubs are ordered below based on size of year-to-year change from largest increase to largest decline.)

2009 MLB player payrolls Min forecast Max forecast Avg Forecast 08 payroll delta 08 wins
Philadelphia Phillies 125 125 125 98.3 26.7 92
San Francisco Giants 89 114 101.5 76.6 24.9 72
Tampa Bay Rays 60 60 60 43.7 16.3 97
Chicago Cubs 133 133 133 119 14 97
Kansas City Royals 70 70 70 58 12 75
Houston Astros 99 102 100.5 88.9 11.6 86
Oakland Athletics 50 65 57.5 48 9.5 75
Arizona Diamondbacks 74 74 74 66.2 7.8 82
Washington Nationals 50 75 62.5 55 7.5 59
Baltimore Orioles 72 75 73.5 67.1 6.4 68
Colorado Rockies 74 74 74 68.7 5.3 74
Cleveland Indians 83 83 83 79 4 81
Minnesota Twins 59 59 59 57 2 88
Florida Marlins 23.5 23.5 23.5 21.8 1.7 84
Cincinnati Reds 75 75 75 74.1 0.9 74
Milwaukee Brewers 79 82 80.5 80.9 -0.4 90
Texas Rangers 62 72 67 67.7 -0.7 79
Detroit Tigers 135 135 135 138 -3 74
Pittsburgh Pirates 45 45 45 48.7 -3.7 67
New York Yankees 200 210 205 209 -4 89
Boston Red Sox 125 127 126 133.4 -7.4 95
New York Mets 130 130 130 137.8 -7.8 89
St. Louis Cardinals 91 91 91 99.6 -8.6 86
Los Angeles Angels 105 115 110 119.2 -9.2 100
Toronto Blue Jays 85 88 86.5 97.97 -11.47 86
Chicago White Sox 100 100 100 121 -21 89
Seattle Mariners 90 100 95 117.7 -22.7 61
Atlanta Braves 70 85 77.5 102.4 -24.9 72
Los Angeles Dodgers 79 104 91.5 118.5 -27 84
San Diego Padres 40 42 41 73.7 -32.7 63
Average payroll change -1.13
Total payroll change -33.97
(all amounts are in $M)

A footnote. Since projected $25 million man Manny Ramirez is not signed, he is included in the high case for both the Dodgers and Giants. Of course, he will ultimately be in one or the other, but not both.

I will be back to address this again once the season-opening payrolls across the game are set, but I don’t expect the conclusion to change dramatically.

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