Wednesday, November 9, 2011

$100 million payroll will limit Twins

Last night I hosted the Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. I covered a variety of Twins topics from the GM shuffle to free agency and more. You can listen to last night's show by CLICKING HERE

In his reintroduction press conference on Monday afternoon, Terry Ryan made note of the fact that the Twins could be looking at reducing their payroll to somewhere around $100 million for the 2012 season. This comes on the heels of the most expensive payroll in Twins history and a 99-loss season. The $115-112 million the Twins spent on players in 2011 did not produce good results on the field and that could have been part of the "philosophical differences" that cost Bill Smith his job.

Terry Ryan has never had a payroll this high to work with during his time as GM of the Twins. Since Ryan last left the Twins post of GM, the team has moved to a new stadium and the payroll has increased significantly. The highest payroll that Ryan ever assembled was in 2007 when the team finished by spending $71.5 million. In his first tenure at the top of the Twins organization, the organization became known for its frugal spending, quality scouting, and winning ways. Other organizations looked to the Twins as the model franchise in an ever-changing baseball economy.

The team had let fans know that the payroll was going to be south of were it had been in 2011 but it was still hard to imagine it dropping significantly for next season. The Twins have a newly built ball park that used tax payers money to finance the venue. This was sold to the local public as the only way the team could stay competitive in Major League Baseball. Fans want to see a good product on the field but if that means cutting payroll, some tax payers are going to question whether the Twins needed to move out of the Metrodome.

The organization has also reaped the benefits of having the increase revenue surrounding a new stadium. The team sold out almost every game in the first couple of seasons in their new location. This means there are more people purchasing food, drinks, and other merchandise to support their hometown nine. The fact is that there are thousands of people on the waiting list to join the club of season ticket holders at Target Field. People want to love this team but that was hard to do in 2011.

The guys over at TwinsCentric each put together a blueprint for how the Twins should approach the coming offseason. This is a hard exercise to do when a person has to stay in the confines of the budget of an organization. All of these bloggers went over the $100 million mark in their plans and these were made with the thought that Bill Smith would still be the GM. In my own offseason blueprint, I had the Twins spending over $110 million. At the time I created by roster, the payroll was being cut and it was still hard to address all of the Twins needs.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will make a combined $37 million next season. With a payroll closer to the $100 million mark and their output from last season, those salaries are a little tough to swallow. Ryan's return almost insures that Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan will all leave the team via free agency. Cuddyer and Kubel could get lucrative deals on the open market and Ryan has a history of letting pricey free agents walk. Some younger players are going to get a longer look during this coming Spring Training. That being said, there is a good chance that some kind of combination of Ben Revere, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, and Joe Benson will be given a chance to shine in 2012.

A cut in payroll is not necessarily a bad thing but it definitely changes the roster creation plans for next year.

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