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Revisiting Terry Ryan's Thoughts On Payroll

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 09:39 AM

Since 2012 Twins Daily has had the opportunity to sit down with Twins GM Terry Ryan and discuss the impending offseason. One of the biggest questions has been regarding the team’s payroll.

 

In the 2013 Offseason Handbook, John Bonnes sat with Ryan.

 

Bonnes: You talked a little bit about limitations in terms of dollars. Do you know what your limitations are in terms of dollars this year?

 

Ryan: I don’t consider that a limitation.

 

Bonnes: OK, but you have a budget…

 

Ryan: But it’s always fluid. It’s never a concrete figure with the Pohlads. It’s not anything that’s a limitation. Just look at the teams still playing here [Note: The 2012 postseason included ATL, STL, WSN, CIN, SF, BAL, TEX, DET, NYY and OAK]. There are a couple well above where we are at and there’s about four or five that are well below where we’re at.

 

Bonnes: There’s a lot of things that determine success for an organization, there’s no question.

 

Ryan: It’s not payroll, usually. I don’t know exactly what Detroit is [NOTE: approximately $118M according to B-R.com], but they are fairly stiff. Cardinals are, what, $112 or so [NOTE: approximately $111M]?

 

Bonnes: In your division, the White Sox have been generally about $100 million. Detroit has been about $120…

 

Ryan: It’s never been a detriment to us to field what we thought was a competitive club. This year it was not a detriment. Two years ago we had a $113 million payroll and it didn’t work.

 

 

For the 2014 Offseason Handbook, I had the opportunity to talk with Ryan and our discussion on the payroll situation went like this:

 

Hageman: Last question, has your payroll budget be set for this year?

 

Ryan: I’ve got a pretty good idea where it’s at. It’s very reasonable to get things done.

 

Hageman: How big of a jump is it from where it is now? [NOTE: The 2013 Twins finished with an approximate payroll of $56M according to B-R.com]

 

Ryan: You don’t even know what our payroll is now.

 

Hageman: Well, the estimation at the end of the year was around 55 or 56 million.

 

Ryan: You counting [Nick] Blackburn?

 

Hageman: Probably not, no. [Note: Blackburn was owed $5.5M bringing the estimated payroll to $60-$61M.]

 

Ryan: OK, so you don’t know. I do so we’ll be OK.

 

Hageman: Triple digits OK?

 

Ryan: We’ll be OK, I’m not going to give you any words.

 

Hageman: I know.

 

Ryan: Don’t worry about our payroll.

 

Hageman: Our readers are worried about things like that.

 

Ryan: Why? I have told publicly I don’t know how many times: our payroll is way more than Oakland, way more than Cleveland, way more than Tampa Bay. Those teams are in the postseason. Payroll is not an excuse for success, it’s not an excuse for failure. We have had many better years in Metrodome with a payroll that’s been much less than it is today. Do people want me to use payroll as an excuse?

 

 

Naturally, with a significant investment from the taxpayers of Hennepin County contributing to finance the new stadium, fans want to know that the money generated by the fancy digs is getting spent on the on-field product. This, of course, has led to a robust debate and discussion.




***If you want to revisit the interviews from 2013 and 2014, you can download the Offseason Handbooks for FREE at the links above. Be sure to download a FREE SAMPLE of this year’s Offseason Handbook or PREORDER IT NOW for $3.99 until the end of the World Series***

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#2 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 09:43 AM

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#3 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 09:49 AM

Well said, Levi.

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#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 09:55 AM

Give Ryan this: he will absolutely fall on the sword for the payroll instead of saying something bad about the Pohlad family.


#5 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:01 AM

Give Ryan this: he will absolutely fall on the sword for the payroll instead of saying something bad about the Pohlad family.

 

He's been asked the question so many times, you'd think by now he'd have developed a better answer.  Responding to "well your fans care about it..." with what amounts to a verbal middle finger is just aggravating beyond explanation.

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#6 Mike Sixel

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:07 AM

Parker tweeted recently that he doesn't get why people keep talking about the payroll. Since then, he's written two articles/threads here about it. I'm confused. Just as I'm confused that TR does not seem to understand that people that are paying for a new stadium to make the owners more money, would not be curious how that money is being spent.

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#7 Parker Hageman

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:10 AM

Parker tweeted recently that he doesn't get why people keep talking about the payroll. Since then, he's written two articles/threads here about it.

 

 

I still don't fully understand it but gotta give the people what the want. Styx gotta play the hits, you know?

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#8 nicksaviking

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:16 AM

Wow, that seemed a bit contentious. 

 

From the exchange, Ryan seemed on the defensive the second payroll was brought up and Parker's question was pretty benign.Then he throws the unsolicited comps to Oakland, Cleveland and TB out there, it certainly sounds like he's already anticipating backlash for what he knows is going to be one of the lowest payrolls in the league again. 

 

Wake me up in March.To be fair, I've been on the side of letting the young guys play anyway.Still, it's hard not to resent the idea that the team intentionally put themselves in the position where spending money might not be the best move.

Edited by nicksaviking, 24 October 2014 - 10:18 AM.


#9 USAFChief

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:22 AM

I still don't fully understand it but gotta give the people what the want. Styx gotta play the hits, you know?


Jusr to be clear...this is from last years interview, correct?
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#10 Kwak

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:52 AM

It sure seems like there is something not mentioned that is germane to the payroll discussion.Since there have been several opportunities for Ryan and other Twins' executives to expand on the subject it seems as if they treat the "payroll subject" as off-limits to discussion.


#11 jharaldson

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:57 AM

Any chance as a preview of the 2015 handbook you could give us the answer he gave this year?

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#12 spycake

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 12:10 PM

Any chance as a preview of the 2015 handbook you could give us the answer he gave this year?

Based on his response from the 2014 offseason handbook, I wonder if anyone dared ask him that again this year? :)

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#13 TheLeviathan

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 02:33 PM

Based on his response from the 2014 offseason handbook, I wonder if anyone dared ask him that again this year? :)

 

I was going to suggest that Parker's continued existence seems to indicate they left it off the list of questions.

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#14 DocBauer

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 09:46 PM

No excuses, as I also pay attention to spending and payroll and rankings, but could I be allowed to play devil's advocate for a moment?

High payroll doesn't insure anything. And if you don't believe that, then you haven't been paying attention to team payroll numbers the last 20 years. There have been Yankees and Red Sox teams in recent years, amongst others, who might or might have not reached the playoffs, but didn't make or win the WS. The Dodgers this season are a great example of a team that, theoretically, disappointed or failed despite a seemingly successful season.

TR is right that payroll isn't an excuse, or at least, isn't always an excuse. And he's right that teams with lesser payrolls have done well, won, and reached the playoffs. It still comes down to smart decisions and smart roster construction. The Twins themselves were known to be smart in assembling teams while in the Metrodome.

What I've always stated and maintained is that larger payrolls allow for more margin of error, and most importantly, allow a quality team to stay together. I truly respect Ryan for everything he has done for the Twins over the years. And really, he's done one hell of a job. But my one concern has been, after years of building teams with limited payroll, does he understand the newer economics of baseball today? The revenue streams for all teams have greatly expanded the last few seasons, especially for the Twins with those new revenues as well as the economic influx brought about from being in Target Field. He began to spend in 2014, which marked a real change in philosophy. Is he learning? Or is he still stuck, somewhat, in the frugal nature of the Metrodome days?
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#15 glunn

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:14 PM

I think that he would be wise to be consistent, and stick with what he said in the conference call with season ticket holders -- $100 million should be enough.  I don't understand why TR has stopped saying that.  Maybe someone told him to stop saying that?  I have no idea, but I think that many of us could be fairly happy if the Twins spent up to that level next year.  And I think that season ticket sales would increase if the Twins were to make one impact signing.


#16 Rosterman

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 10:47 PM

No excuses, as I also pay attention to spending and payroll and rankings, but could I be allowed to play devil's advocate for a moment?

High payroll doesn't insure anything. And if you don't believe that, then you haven't been paying attention to team payroll numbers the last 20 years. There have been Yankees and Red Sox teams in recent years, amongst others, who might or might have not reached the playoffs, but didn't make or win the WS. The Dodgers this season are a great example of a team that, theoretically, disappointed or failed despite a seemingly successful season.

TR is right that payroll isn't an excuse, or at least, isn't always an excuse. And he's right that teams with lesser payrolls have done well, won, and reached the playoffs. It still comes down to smart decisions and smart roster construction. The Twins themselves were known to be smart in assembling teams while in the Metrodome.

What I've always stated and maintained is that larger payrolls allow for more margin of error, and most importantly, allow a quality team to stay together. I truly respect Ryan for everything he has done for the Twins over the years. And really, he's done one hell of a job. But my one concern has been, after years of building teams with limited payroll, does he understand the newer economics of baseball today? The revenue streams for all teams have greatly expanded the last few seasons, especially for the Twins with those new revenues as well as the economic influx brought about from being in Target Field. He began to spend in 2014, which marked a real change in philosophy. Is he learning? Or is he still stuck, somewhat, in the frugal nature of the Metrodome days?

Yes, the more money you have to spend, the more mistakes you can make and cover. So you spend it and hope the mistakes don't sink you. 2014 had one major mistake sitting out the season, and three high paid players badly underperforming. One of them you write off as a franchise investment and because you got him young and you essentially are still not at the breakeven. But you were also vastly under payroll last season, too. Again, the ability to spend money allows you to gamble, maybe make mistakes, or maybe score big. You score big if all the pieces come together and you win, draw people, get ratings, corporate sponsors and such. You can play it safe, but then you end up playing to empty houses or going home from the table early.

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#17 The Wise One

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 04:15 AM

People on this board have a disconect with the budget and the quality of free agents available for the money


#18 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 04:55 AM

People on this board have a disconect with the budget and the quality of free agents available for the money

 

Then TR should say "Our payroll budget is flexible, if we see quality players that fit our needs then we can move to add them.  if the market just doesn't fit our needs, we can explore trades or look for in-house replacements"

 

Rational people will understand rational answers.  What TR said managed to be both irrational and insulting at the same time.

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#19 Linus

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 06:03 AM

I'm sure answering the same question for 7534th time may have had something to do with it.

#20 Major League Ready

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 06:07 AM

Is there any wonder why fans and management disagree.Anyone who has kids knows that they don't consider a budget or what is financially feasible in what they desire.Same is true of fans.Many have absolute disregard for expenditures, risk or profit.The Minnesota Twins area business.It is incredibly naive to believe the won't or should not act accordingly.

 

I have on several occasions during the economic downturn provided consultation to state governments (including the state of Minnesota) and large cities when declining tax revenues forced them to become better at capital investment and expense control.I regret to inform all of you that the prevailing thought that our tax dollars are squandered is quite accurate.When profit and risk mitigation are not focal points, the core principals that govern management decision process go out the window.

 

Fans are short-sighted and definitely do not give risk adequate weight.Fans think they can back seat drive because somehow they think they possess all of the skill necessary to manage the assets, personnel, operations, and P&L of an organization generating hundreds of millions of dollars.The frustration is a product of not having the requisite skill set and/or experience to understand why things are done the way they are.

 

Fans also assume things based on a fraction of the information.I assess organizations for a living and I would never begin to think I could evaluate the MN Twins or the relative or specific abilities of the individuals running the organization without a much closer look and all of the relevant inputs.

 

Just one mans opinion but I think many here would be far less frustrated if they considered the possibility that they might have a different opinion if they had actual experience running a $250M business and all of the relevant information.

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