08-12-2012, 10:38 PM #1
Mackey: Blaming Payroll for Twins shortcomings is a lazy excuse
Payroll -- or a perceived lack thereof -- has absolutely nothing to do with why the Twins have lost more than 160 games since the beginning of last season.
Payroll -- or a perceived scaling back of -- is a lazy excuse.
08-12-2012, 10:53 PM #2
08-12-2012, 11:21 PM #3
"But the Twins have $11 million tied up in Nick Blackburn, Jason Marquis and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who have acted as anchors for a ship already halfway under water."
Just want to go on the record about using the ship metaphor myself before this was published.
"And anyone who believes the Twins should be expected -- or even have the resources -- to spend with the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and others is living in a fantasy world.
On what planet should the Twins -- ranked 15th among 30 MLB teams in TV market size -- sit anywhere other than on the fringe of the top 10 payrolls in baseball?
In what wild dream should the Twins -- who collect approximately $29 million per year in TV revenue -- have the resources to spend the same amount of money on payroll as the Angels, who bring in $150 million per year in TV revenue, or the Dodgers, Yankees or Red Sox, who all bring in even more?
In what universe should the Twins -- ranked 29th among 30 MLB teams in local cable/satellite subscriber rate, which is the driving factor for television revenue -- be able to spend their way out of poor drafting and other personnel mistakes?"
Phil's, of course, right about some poor front office direction and decision-making the last 6 years. But this above quote is entirely overblown and overstated and belies the Twins very marketing plan foisted upon the public in order to get the new stadium built in the first place. The evidence is pretty solidly established out there that the ownership group is one of the wealthiest in all of baseball and that the team is generating revenue in excess of $200M, more than sufficient to have made a run at signing 3 FA pitchers on a short-term basis (above Marquis-level bargain-basement) to make up for the dead weight contracts that come off the books after 2012- The Twins made a decision that this was an interim year as part of a process in making corrections and revisions to the previous bad management errors, they made a financial decision that they could not walk and chew gum at the same time in the short-term. The evidence suggests they were in "playing-it-safe-mode", taking a deep cleansing breath, which is an arguable ledge to stand on given the disastrous 2011 season; many on the other side of this argument weren't in some "wild dream" state as Phil accuses, by simply suggesting there was a way to roll the dice on 2012 by adding players on one-year contracts at a payroll similar or even less than 2011, without jeopardizing the club's competitive and financial health, long-term.
Last edited by jokin; 08-12-2012 at 11:31 PM.
08-12-2012, 11:35 PM #4
If we agree that revenues are $200 million, and they spend even 50% on payroll (teams try to be within 48-50%), that's a $100 million payroll. So, yes, they went over payroll last year, and it didn't work. This year, they were more responsible. The key is not the payroll, it's how the payroll dollars are spent. The Twins, like all but about 4-5 teams, have little margin for mistakes and bad contracts. Frankly, the Twins have to get out from a couple of those bad contracts... and they also need a couple of young guys to come up and become solid regulars. Why? Because having a few contributing players at $450,000 allows money to be spent elsewhere. It's a balance.
08-12-2012, 11:46 PM #5
Don't always agree with Mackey, but I've reiterated the points in his article so many times, I felt like I could've written it!
I hear what jokin is saying above about 2012 being a "play it safe" year, but I guess it's tough for some fans to accept that the foundation of this team was in such rough shape that one major signing, or even a series of short-term signings really couldn't have prevented them from being horrible this year.
If you don't believe that, consider this: Mauer and Morneau have been mostly healthy for the whole year, AND the team's two free agent signings of Willingham and Doumit have succeed equal to or beyond all reasonable expectations for them. Yes, much of that is offset by the loss of Cuddy and Kubel last offseason, but when virtually your whole rotation becomes undependable in the span of 2 years, it's pretty clear that you've been failing to restock your system with arms, which ironically, was something Terry Ryan was criticized for doing TOO MUCH of in the mid-2000's. (Everyone said we needed to trade Garza, Slowey, etc. for some bats because we had something like 8 future starters coming up at the same time. We got Delmon Young.).
Mauer's a good player. Morneau may have some life left in him. But I'm not sure you can just blow off the fact that those two are about 2/5 of the entire payroll, and they aren't impact players in the way Cabrera and Fielder are for Detroit, or other middle-of-the-order hitters are for other teams. No, they don't deserve the blame for us being bad - that goes to the pitching. But one of the main REASONS we can't aggressively fix our errors in the pitching staff through FA is the money tied up in those two players.
I guess it's a Catch-22. I don't honestly think most fans are mad at Joe Mauer for not being a 30 HR guy. I think even the haters (at least the baseball-educated ones) understand that he has a certain approach to the game, and is elite at what he does. But I think they're also mad/frustrated at the whole situation because they were sold the idea that we could afford a Joe Mauer based on the premise that we were going to be a $110 or $120 million team. Now that we don't have that budget, it places more pressure on Mauer, fair or not.
08-12-2012, 11:50 PM #6
They didn't, which implies that it is going to take some more time to right this ship, perhaps 2014.
08-13-2012, 12:42 AM #7
The boost in payroll from Target Field's revenue was more about keeping from our home-grown stars than hiring big free agents. This year it enabled them to avoid salary-dumping deadline trades that would have diminished a solid lineup that can return intact in 2013. This offseason we'll see whether they can spend that extra cash wisely on fixing the rotation. Pre-Target Field that wouldn't have even been a possibility.
08-13-2012, 03:53 AM #8
Phil Mackey makes some very good points which I agree with. Unfortunately, Mackey uses much of his effort to belittle and mock those who hold a different point of view. Phil rarely gives both sides of an issue, such as the Years, the Twins underpaid the Payroll.
The Pohlad's have stated for years, that their payroll would reflect 50%of revenue
In their last year at the Dome in 2009, the Twins pretax earnings were almost as large as they were at Target Field in 2010.
Forbes Magazine reported that the Twins had 162 million dollars in revenue and realized pretax earnings of 25 million, the 9th highest inBaseball. This is at the Dome!!
The opening day payroll was 65,299,267. The Twins were way below the 50%of Revenue that the Pohlad's sell us. This probably accounts for their large 2009 earnings.
In their first year at Target Field, Forbes reported revenue of 213million with pretax earnings of 26.5 million.
Starting day payroll was 97500 which again falls below 50% of revenue.
Here is two years of payroll under payments, based on 50% of Revenue. We will only be reminded of the payroll over payment of 2011. Do not expect the Phil Mackey's of the World, to ever bring up the years that the Twins were under paying their self proclaimed payroll model.
Most of the Fan do not expect the Twins to spend at Big Market levels, but continuing Payroll cuts will anger the Fan Base.
Phil Mackey can take his shots.
The Business Of Baseball - Forbes.com
The Business Of Baseball, 2011
The Business Of Baseball
Last edited by Highabove; 08-15-2012 at 01:45 AM.
08-13-2012, 05:40 AM #9
08-13-2012, 07:28 AM #10
Correct! And the Twins base their payroll on estimated revenues for the upcoming season.
Like Phil, I just believe that too many use payroll as reasoning, but at the end of the day, thats such a small piece of the puzzle. Making good baseball decisions and then how the players actually play us what matters.
08-13-2012, 07:37 AM #11
How in the hell is saying the Twins suck based off the payroll?
08-13-2012, 07:38 AM #12
It's certainly true poor decisions by Twins management has wasted payroll. However,
1. Most of what is contained in Mackey's rant is unrelated to the Twins payroll. What the Yankees, or Phillies, pay their players, for example, isn't a factor in how much the Twins could, and should be spending. Drives up the cost of free agents? Sure, but that has nothing to do with the Twins available payroll. Nor, really, does spending poorly--but under budget--explain why they can't spend to budget. Are they so convinced their general manager doesn't know what he's doing that they took budget away to ensure it's not spent at all, rather than spent badly? Because they spent $11m badly, they forego spending entirely, even if money is available?
2. The Twins themselves have said, many times, they'll spend 52% of revenue (not "50%," 52). Unless Kelly Thesier can't be trusted, Jim Pohlad himself said that:
So the issue isn't how much other teams are spending, or what they're spending it on, or the market size, the issue is, "are the Twins living up to the promises they've made to the fan base, and to the taxpayers who are paying for much of a new stadium?"
3. Any impartial look at available data indicates they haven't spend anywhere near 52% in at least 2 of the 3 seasons in TF, and barely exceeded it in one year. And that doesn't even address the legitimate question of whether or not they can afford to devote a higher percentage of revenue to payroll in TF than they could in the dome. Why would they need to devote tens of millions more to costs other than payroll now? Why was roughly $65m enough to fund everything other than payroll in the dome, but now they need $100m+?
08-13-2012, 08:26 AM #13
Payroll didn't cause the team to fall to the bottom of the league. But it certainly could limit their ability to get back in contention.
08-13-2012, 08:45 AM #14
1) They don't forego spending entirely, they just don't believe that organizationally they should be throwing big, long term money at pitching or at outside FA. TR has said publicly multiple times that the team would go over budget if they thought the move would benefit the team, so the Twins willingness to pay for people is there.
2) Good luck finding any organization that fullfills all promises made during the run for a new stadium. It's like a presidential election: say enough to get the public on your side, then deliver reality which always falls short.
3) I would love to see the "impartial data" that supports your theory that the Twins aren't spending 52%. The question of whether they can afford a higher % is moot as the Pohlads have decided that is the percentage they are willing to put to payroll. Considering the brainpower and dollars involved coming from a multi-billion dollar conglomerate, it's hard for little old me to say that 52% is too low. Operating costs are more than just running a stadium. I would be willing to bet there have been dollar increases in scouting, advertising, and yes, personal income for the Pohlads.
08-13-2012, 08:47 AM #15
The only thing I disagreed with Mackey on this article was the TV deal. The Rangers are somehow getting $80 million from their TV deal in a very comparably-sized market. FSNorth somehow got the Sunday games off of free TV and got their deal for $29 million. That makes this statement
In what wild dream should the Twins -- who collect approximately $29 million per year in TV revenue -- have the resources to spend the same amount of money on payroll as the Angels, who bring in $150 million per year in TV revenue, or the Dodgers, Yankees or Red Sox, who all bring in even more?AKA: TMW
08-13-2012, 08:49 AM #16
08-13-2012, 08:57 AM #17
I mostly agree with Mackey though I think, as some have pointed out, his argument uses extremes and focuses mostly on the negatives in FA and spending, and the Twins added several positive pieces that way, too.
In the end it is all about baseball decisions. Right now, though, I think the payroll is the focus because there are three ways to add talent to a team: the draft, trades, and free agency.
The first is over and help from any draft still appears to be a couple years off. The Twins didn't make any impactful trades In terms of adding youth and talent, though maybe they will in the offseason. Which leaves only really free agency, and the fear becomes that they will cut payroll again, with the fear that they could be worse.
08-13-2012, 09:17 AM #18
It all starts at the front office!
08-13-2012, 09:18 AM #19
I was also disappointed in the TV deal. I had hoped that they would end up more in the range of Detroit - about $35-$40 million per year. Given market size, $29 million still looks low given that it was a recently negotiated deal but I suspect that it was depressed by demographics and by the Twins lingering memory of how they screwed up on TV rights in the early 2000's. My guess is that they were reluctant to take too hard a position given how the earlier negotiations played out. Of course, in my opinion, FSN could also save money by reducing the number of talking heads on Twins broadcasts and focusing on the game instead of all this folderol in the stands and in the booth and that money (though not particularly significant) could have been put back into the rights equation.
I think we can all agree with Mackey that the Twins need to spend more wisely and I really didn't have a problem with this year's payroll level given all the health uncertainties that lingered from last year.
BUT I do have a problem on the 52% question. IF the Forbes calculations are so wrong, the Twins can easily correct that. All they have to do is break the silence and release the actual figures (in some veriified or verifiable manner) -- but they don't do that. They simply tap dance around.
Until they release figures that show the Forbes calculations to be wrong, I think fans have a right to expect that they WILL spend 50% - 52% of the revenues that Forbes estimates. Would it guarantee a winner? Of course not. But some upgraded starting pitching is very likely to have increased the number of wins this year.
08-13-2012, 09:26 AM #20