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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
What is "fiscal responsibility"?
Another story out there about the apparent increase in spending this offseason:
GMs throw cash to the wind
Read my thoughts on this fallacy below first, but I would tend to argue that when the dust finally settles, the average salary for a player in the Major F. League will probablly not increase by much.
Consider that the avearage player salary decreased last season, for the first time since 1995. Now consider that player salaries should be increasing because baseball revenues are increasing. Then take a rough estimate. I don't trust the ESPN salaries against the database I have, but its updated, so if we take all the MLB salaries listed there, and find the average, then the average salary has only increased by 0.6% so far in 2005. Even if we take all the remaining free agents and say they will combine to make $100M in 2005 (which will never happen even with Beltran's $15-20M), player salaries would still only increase by 5.5%.
I don't see a problem with that. After decreasing by 3% in 2004, I would EXPECT player salaries to increase by 3-5% in 2005. Where's the problem?
Not that I want to reduce myself to a fact-checker for ESPN (they obviously don't have one) but Sean McAdam sees it another way,
Don't look now, but baseball is spending like sailors on shore leave.Tired cliches aside, I don't think increasing the wages you pay your employees by 5% is revolutionary.
"It just goes to show that there are so many people out there who can't control themselves," sighed one general manager. "They talk a good game, but it doesn't last. I'll tell you what -- this game is in trouble. It needs a salary cap, and fast."Why? The money has to be coming from somewhere, right? Baseball franchises surely are making money, if they're spending it on players (which they're really not) where is the problem? Even if player salaries increased by 10%, or 20%, why would that doom the sport of baseball? Wouldn't it just bankrupt the teams that were foolish enough to spend outside their means?
McAdam cites the oft-used Detroit Tigers as an example,
The Detroit Tigers, for example, have been one of the most aggressive bidders in the market....Thanks to the NHL lockout, Tigers owner Mike Illitch doesn't have the operating costs for his Red Wings, so he can afford to free more capital for his baseball club.Wait a minute. Can people stop this nonsense. The Tigers are aggressive in the free agent market because they are finally seeing the end of some horrendous contracts signed during the Randy Smith debacle. Detroit is a pretty large market, and while it may be Hockey Town, the Tigers can still support a payroll of more than its current $46M. I'm sure that with a decent team the Tigers can support a payroll of about the $60-$70M they were spending not five years ago. That's why they're aggressive on the free agent market. Would people rather Mike Illitch pocket that money? Or invest it in his pizza chain?
Same goes for the Mets, the D-Backs, and the Mariners, other teams seemingly aggressive. The other teams out there making moves are like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Angels: large market teams with plenty of money to toss around anyways.
But this is what really gets me,
Said another front office executive: "Everybody wants to talk about the betterment of the game, but at the end of the day, everyone covers their own ass. A team like the Mets wants to win; they don't care about setting the bar for everyone else."Doesn't that sound like implied collusion to anyone else? Read between the lines. Members of baseball management are talking about the betterment of the game. Contrary to the betterment of the game (in management's eyes) runs an increase in player salaries. So owners have this idea of practicing "fiscal responsibility", which is most accurately called collusion.
Here we have an anonymous baseball executive lamenting the failure of other teams to adhere to the unspoken owner code to keep the help's wages under control. That's collusion, or at least implies collusion. Not that this is news or anything...
"Here's a guy [Glaus] who was injured for most of the last two seasons," offered another general manager, "and a team that everyone thought had enormous debt problems. And yet, somehow, (the Diamondbacks) give him $45 million over four years. How does that happen?"It's because the Diamondbacks never had enormous debt problems. Its also because if they did, then even after signing Glaus (and Ortiz), their payroll still increased by less than a million. Ridding the $30M tied up in Sexson, Mantei, Finley, Dessens, and Bautista will do that for a franchise. No wonder they spent money. No contradiction here.
When you look only at the surface, as most good ESPN writers do, the executive is upset at the Diamondbacks for letting the cat out of the bag. "Listen D-Backs, you're supposed to be going bankrupt. How can we convince the players union that we need a salary cap if our best example of a team losing money is blowing four year deals on middle of the road free agents?"
Look, owners have been complaining about not making money since the beginning of sport. Baseball owners are no different and during the contraction talks, they were fond of citing that most teams in MLB were losing money. Then Forbes came out with a study of the financials of baseball and concluded that maybe one team out of thirty had lost money.
Who would you trust?
The money is there. It's being made, so it ought to be spent on the people that make it. I see absolutely no problem with a 5% increase in player salaries. I wouldn't even have a problem with a 20% one-year increase in player salaries. None. It would only tell me that the owners were making 40% more money this year.
Email Curt to ask him why he cares so much.