Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Where Should Payroll Sit in 2013?

    Since they moved into Target Field, the Twins have seen payroll rise and fall, from $96 million in the opening season, up to $112 million the following year, down to $94 million in 2012.

    The rise to $112 million last year was purportedly the result of a push to take the next step after falling short in the 2010 postseason. The subsequent scaling back by nearly $20 million was easy enough to figure; the Twins had lost 99 games which led to reduced revenue and also led to a lessened belief that contention in the next year would be possible.

    Revenues only dropped further here in 2012, as Target Field saw attendance fall by nearly 400,000. The Twins also lost 96 games. So the general belief is that next year's payroll will drop again, perhaps to $90 million or lower. Terry Ryan has backed up that notion by telling reporters that he doesn't plan to pursue high-profile free agents, which may either be a sign that he's uncomfortable giving big-money long-term deals to pitchers (justifiable) or that the club is simply unwilling to spend on the open market to address its issues (less justifiable).

    Can the Twins really afford to worry so much about what they can afford?

    A drop to $90 million or below might make sense based on the organization's typical structure, which calls for putting between 50-52 percent of revenue back into payroll, but it doesn't necessarily make sense for the long-term health of the franchise. If the Twins keep trimming the money they put into their roster, they risk further frustrating the fans and continuing this disturbing trend of attendance decline here in Year Four of their sparkling young ballpark.

    There's a snowball effect that comes into play here. If the team's performance keeps scuffling as the shiny newness of the stadium wears off, then attendance will keep dropping and so will revenue. Alas, adherence to the set payroll structure will result in an ongoing decline in spending, which will make it increasingly difficult to field a truly competitive team, particularly with $23 million every year owed to Joe Mauer, who is only getting older.

    It might require them to find money elsewhere and go above their normal percentage, but I believe the Twins should absolutely raise payroll above its current level rather than letting it drop for a second straight year. They don't necessarily need to get back into that $115 million range, but $100 million seems like a reasonable target.

    While additional spending hardly guarantees a winning team, it does demonstrate to fans a firm commitment to righting the ship, and the extra players brought aboard with that money are bound to generate excitement and sell some tickets.

    This is a pivotal offseason for the Twins, and one that could very well determine the course of the organization over the next several years. Will ownership play it safe at the risk of exacerbating a sense of apathy among the fan base, or will they green-light some bold moves to give their stagnating product a jolt?

    The latter option wouldn't be very Twins-like. But maybe that's a good thing.
    This article was originally published in blog: Where Should Payroll Sit in 2013? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 41 Comments
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      The payroll should be anywhere between 85-110M next year. The biggest problem that I have with any of the 'Twins don't spend enough because...' complaints is that spending 40+M in one offseason can only result in bad long term contracts that won't give the twins much flexibility in the future. I think the Twins should spend as much as they can as long as they can limit it to 1, 2 or possibly even 3 year contracts. Being a realist the Twins probably end up with a 90ish M payroll. My expectations/hopes are something like 3/30 for a veteran pitcher, 2/10 for a guy like Scutaro and 5M or so for a guy like Baker.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      'The rise to $112 million last year was purportedly the result of a push to take the next step after falling short in the 2010 postseason.'

      Except that's not what really happened. They didn't go for it. They did the opposite. They didn't go after starting pitching, which would have been an attempt to push to the next level. Instead they gutted the middle infield and the bullpen in 2011. The rise in payroll was due to rises in payroll from contracts already on the books along with arbitration pay rises and Nishi.

      There was no attempt to IMPROVE the roster...they noticeably made it worse. Just like they did after the 2006 season. Probably figured, wow, we won a lot of games, we can probably back off and still compete for the division title...which is our only true goal.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      'The rise to $112 million last year was purportedly the result of a push to take the next step after falling short in the 2010 postseason.'

      Except that's not what really happened. They didn't go for it. They did the opposite. They didn't go after starting pitching, which would have been an attempt to push to the next level. Instead they gutted the middle infield and the bullpen in 2011. The rise in payroll was due to rises in payroll from contracts already on the books along with arbitration pay rises and Nishi.

      There was no attempt to IMPROVE the roster...they noticeably made it worse. Just like they did after the 2006 season. Probably figured, wow, we won a lot of games, we can probably back off and still compete for the division title...which is our only true goal.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Except that's not what really happened. They didn't go for it. They did the opposite. They didn't go after starting pitching, which would have been an attempt to push to the next level. Instead they gutted the middle infield and the bullpen in 2011. The rise in payroll was due to rises in payroll from contracts already on the books along with arbitration pay rises and Nishi.
      Untrue. The Twins could have let free agents Carl Pavano and Jim Thome walk, but stretched payroll beyond the level they were comfortable with in order to keep the team together and make another run.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I think the idea that a $112m payroll is "beyond the level they were comfortable with" tells us all we really need to know about Twins ownership.
    1. DBTwinsFan's Avatar
      DBTwinsFan -
      I'm not sure what the payroll should be for 2013, but the answer to the question "Where should payroll sit in 2013?" unfortunately will be in Pohlad's bank account......
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by tacky3 View Post
      I do believe that this team could get younger and better if we traded Mourneau and Span and replaced them in house with Parmalee and Revere. Not only would this possibly give us pitching help (depending on what the twins fetch in return) but it would free up more money to go out and grab two or three good (Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson) free agents.
      with terry ryan in charge ? a handful of magic beans and a soft tossing contoll type pitcher like boof bonser or kevin slowey..
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I think the idea that a $112m payroll is "beyond the level they were comfortable with" tells us all we really need to know about Twins ownership.
      I think the idea that 112M isn't enough tells all we really need to know about some Twins fans.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      if you took the 2011 payroll and adjusted a modest 7%inflation to it then 2012 would be 120million and this up coming season would be 130 million ,which is what the twins need to spend to be competitive in 2013, but they need the right guy spending the money not cury ryan ...this guy thought boof bonser was the key plaer in the a.j trade,he got nothing for santana(remember even when bill was g.m. terry was his advisior and had imput on every trade and transaction) we got 20 grand for thome in 2011 and in 2012 the phillys got 2 top 10 prospects , so with this bafoon in charge you might as well cut payroll to 30 million

      and for those keeping track of revenue, dont forget what the twins recieve from mlb internet broadcasts ... in .2011 , slightly over 2 billion split between 30 teams
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      I think the idea that 112M isn't enough tells all we really need to know about some Twins fans.
      That we expect ownership to want to win at least as much as we do?

      That we expect them to make a $130m-ish contribution to Target Field, like they promised, rather than take their contribution out of revenues and, in fact, contribute NOTHING out of pocket towards their new stadium?

      That we expect them to at least honor their oft-stated "52% of revenues to payroll" promise, which doesn't even factor in the fact there is no reason that percentage should have to stay as low as 52% with the move to TF, since other expenses didn't jump proportionately?

      That simple math tells us $112M in 2011 barely--at best--constitutes the promised 52%, yet is referred to by this writer as "beyond their comfort level" and everyone seems to buy that?

      Is that what it tells you about "some fans?"
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The Twins could compete for the division next year at slightly under $100 million. If they wanted to find a way to buy a SS, that might push it to $103-105 or so.

      I sometimes think the people forget just how much money was wasted in 2012 on Pavano, Baker, Liriano, Blackburn, Capps, Marquis, and Nishioka. About $25 million or so spent plus arbitration increases and the Twins are back at the original 2012 payroll. That money could be spent on Edwin Jackson and Shaun Marcum, Marcum, Blanton, and Saunders, or Marcum, Blanton, and X shortstop, etc. To ignore how much any of those options would improve the team is rather preposterous. Add a few million guaranteed to Baker and hope that he earns another $4 or 5 in incentives and this team really could win the division. AGAIN, for the millionth time, the lineup at 100% was pretty good even with a bad starting rotation.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      I think the idea that 112M isn't enough tells all we really need to know about some Twins fans.
      That we expect ownership to want to win at least as much as we do?

      That we expect them to make a $130m-ish contribution to Target Field, like they promised, rather than take their contribution out of revenues and, in fact, contribute NOTHING out of pocket towards their new stadium?

      That we expect them to at least honor their oft-stated "52% of revenues to payroll" promise, which doesn't even factor in the fact there is no reason that percentage should have to stay as low as 52% with the move to TF, since other expenses didn't jump proportionately?

      That simple math tells us $112M in 2011 barely--at best--constitutes the promised 52%, yet is referred to by this writer as "beyond their comfort level" and everyone seems to buy that?

      Is that what it tells you about "some fans?"
      Nice. I agree. There is ESPECIALLY an issue in 2013 (and there WAS this issue in 2012 as well) given that the future would indicate a roster dominated by team-controlled players like Hicks, Arcia, Sano, Rosario, Gibson, Hendriks, et all. Payroll is going to naturally go down in the future when the youth movement moves to the majors. So why not spend more EVEN IF ONLY to trade the players later?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Except that's not what really happened. They didn't go for it. They did the opposite. They didn't go after starting pitching, which would have been an attempt to push to the next level. Instead they gutted the middle infield and the bullpen in 2011. The rise in payroll was due to rises in payroll from contracts already on the books along with arbitration pay rises and Nishi.
      Untrue. The Twins could have let free agents Carl Pavano and Jim Thome walk, but stretched payroll beyond the level they were comfortable with in order to keep the team together and make another run.
      But that is bringing back the SAME players...that wasn't IMPROVING the team that had just got swept out of the ALDS...AGAIN (And one was a 40 year old part time DH). So, how does that show they are going for it and improving the team to push to the next level? Especially when you consider:

      A: They still didn't do anything to upgrade the starting pitching from what it was in 2010. They went into spring training with 'six major league starting pitchers 'competing' for the five spots'. None of them were new.
      B: They still gutted their fine bullpen.
      C: They still dismantled their middle infield.

      How is that going for it and improving their team from what they had in 2010?
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      But that is bringing back the SAME players...that wasn't IMPROVING the team that had just got swept out of the ALDS...AGAIN (And one was a 40 year old part time DH). So, how does that show they are going for it and improving the team to push to the next level? Especially when you consider:

      A: They still didn't do anything to upgrade the starting pitching from what it was in 2010. They went into spring training with 'six major league starting pitchers 'competing' for the five spots'. None of them were new.
      B: They still gutted their fine bullpen.
      C: They still dismantled their middle infield.

      How is that going for it and improving their team from what they had in 2010?
      You can certainly argue with the quality of the plan (I sure did). I'm not breaking any ground here, though. They have said multiple times that they stretched payroll to bring back Pavano and Thome, which accounts for most of the increase from 2010 to 2011. That is their publicly held stance, which is why I used the word "purportedly."
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      [QUOTE=Nick Nelson;58748]
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      You can certainly argue with the quality of the plan (I sure did). I'm not breaking any ground here, though. They have said multiple times that they stretched payroll to bring back Pavano and Thome, which accounts for most of the increase from 2010 to 2011. That is their publicly held stance, which is why I used the word "purportedly."
      Okay, but here's the thing. Payroll went up 15M from 2010 to 2011. Pavano and Thome were on the 2010 roster. They only got 2.5 million more between them for 2011. 2.5M, that's it. A 1M raise for Pavano and a 1.5 M raise for Thome. That's less than 20% of the 15M increase.

      Yes, I know Pavano got 8M and Thome got 3M for 2011, but that whole amount wasn't fresh money coming onto payroll. Their 2010 salaries were already on the books for our team that had a payroll of 97.5M. They weren't brought in to add on to the 97.5M 2010 team. Look at it this way, we take them off the roster, taking away the 7M and 1.5M they made, that drops it to 89 M. Then bring them back by adding the 11M with their new 2011 salaries. That's 100M.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      I understand that. They were both free agents. The Twins could have let them both walk and saved ~12M. Keeping them wasn't about actively changing the makeup of the team, it was about trying to "keep the band together" as much as possible and make another run after a successful 2010 campaign. You're preaching to the choir about the shortcomings of this plan, but – again – that was their stance.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Okay, but here's the thing. Payroll went up 15M from 2010 to 2011. Pavano and Thome were on the 2010 roster. They only got 2.5 million more between them for 2011. 2.5M, that's it. A 1M raise for Pavano and a 1.5 M raise for Thome. That's less than 20% of the 15M increase.

      Yes, I know Pavano got 8M and Thome got 3M for 2011, but that whole amount wasn't fresh money coming onto payroll. Their 2010 salaries were already on the books for our team that had a payroll of 97.5M. They weren't brought in to add on to the 97.5M 2010 team. Look at it this way, we take them off the roster, taking away the 7M and 1.5M they made, that drops it to 89 M. Then bring them back by adding the 11M with their new 2011 salaries. That's 100M.
      Here's the thing - at some point this happens to teams that are successful for 10 years. Teams get old and it becomes very difficult to simply maintain the team much less add new players. tbh - We've been spoiled by a decade of winning.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      'Here's the thing - at some point this happens to teams that are successful for 10 years. Teams get old and it becomes very difficult to simply maintain the team much less add new players. tbh - We've been spoiled by a decade of winning.'

      our discussion centered around whether or not that spike rise in payroll in 2011 was ownership's way of trying to push us over the edge from 2010 to 2011. If you follow the back and forth discussion, you'll see that. I believe I made a case that wasn't really the case, considering they gutted the middle IF and the bullpen and didn't use the money to address any new starting pitching. I don't know how that can be viewed as ownership trying to push us over the top after a very impressive 2010 season.

      As far as your point, I'm not sure that we should just be okay with the declining years that have started and may continue for another couple...not when our core of position players are still solid and relatively young and not when the declining years happen a year after the new ballpark opens...a ballpark that the taxpayers were told was needed to keep us competitive. Cutting payroll after a 99 loss season and likely doing it again after a 96 loss season, is cause for concern.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I'm one of many who wrote last fall that there was no reason for the Twins to slash payroll the way they did. In fact, it was exactly the wrong thing to do. At the very least, the 2011 level should have been retained. Does anyone think the Twins would have lost 96 games if Terry Ryan would have had, say, another $15 million to spend on two decent starting pitchers? Of course, both of them could have come down with bilateral arm weakness and been "day to day" from May through September, but IF Ryan had chosen two starting pitchers to spend $15 million on and had done so as wisely as he chose Willingham and Doumit, this would have been a far different season and the Pohlads wouldn't be fretting about having lost hundreds of thousands in attendance.

      So going back to the original question of this thread, where should the 2013 payroll sit? It should be exactly where it was in 2011 because it shouldn't have been cut in 2012. This stuff Ryan spouts about money not being the issue is just crapola that he has to say for public consumption because he knows it will do him no good with his ownership to tell the truth.

      "It takes money to make money," "you get what you pay for," and "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity," are cliches. But they became cliches because they're true. Cutting payroll last year had a direct negative effect on the product on the field and a crappy product on the field (again) had a direct negative effect on attendance/revenue. Cutting payroll further in 2013 and expecting a different result would be insane.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      They blamed last season on injuries plain and simple. They were able to sell that idea. Then they try and sell the idea that 112M was overspending in an attempt to push us over the top, that what they spent this year was more in-line with what they really should have spent in 2011, but they forgot to mention they didn't really bring anyone in when that payroll rose and they dropped their middle IF, gutted their bullpen and ignored starting pitching needs.

      Perhaps they really thought a healthy Span, Morneau and Mauer would garner quite a bit more wins...and maybe their returns should have allowed us to have more wins (especially since the division got even weaker)...but by not improving the pitching, and ignoring the middle infield, the team couldn't turn it around.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.