Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Win First, Spend Later

Thought I'd slide into Greg's territory a little bit with an economy-related note found on

The Phillies' payroll increased 25 percent this season to a franchise-record $132.3 million after winning their first World Series title in 28 years.

This is curious because 14 of the 30 Major League teams' payrolls decreased in the midst of the economic recession. However, this article places the credit for the Phillies ability to spend directly on the fans. Luckily for them, the Philadelphia-area hasn't been hit as hard by the recession as some parts of the country, and season ticket sales spiked nearly 19 percent for the World Champs. Add in increased sponsorship interest and merchandise sales, and the Phillies clearly had some money to play with in the offseason.They didn't just sit on it, either. They signed several of their free-agents-to-be to long-term contracts and brought in free agent outfielder Raul Ibanez (3-years, $31.5 million for the 36-year old).

With some other big-time players forced to take lesser deals this year (ie: new Washington National Adam Dunn), it begs the question if bigger is always better. The article notes that the Phillies will need some of their promising minor leaguers to start producing at the big league level soon to keep their payroll from going out of control. Without a salary cap in baseball, the economics of the sport will never truly make sense, but you wonder if other clubs are saying, "If we had only won the World Series, we might've been able to afford to overpay an aging outfielder." (For the record, according to USA Today's salary database, World Series runner-up Tampa Bay's payroll spiked nearly $20 million this year with its median salary jumping more than $800,00.)

Baseball seems to still be going relatively strong. (Monday's Orioles' Opening Day that I attended set a record for Opening Day attendance at Camden Yards.) But there's no doubt players who are free agents to be this offseason will be pushing harder than ever to have the career year that will land them a big contract when there might be fewer big contracts to go around. The Yankees, whose payroll actually went down $8 million this year despite committing more than $400 million to free agents, made their free agent spending binge to coincide with the opening of their new ballpark, so next year's free agents won't be able to fall back on them, either.

But in this economic era of uncertainty, the message right now to Major League teams is clear: Winning cures all woes.

1 comment:

  1. The Phils are going to be in a very solid situation for the next several years.

    They've always had more money than the conservative ownership group lets on, and this decade they've had the two biggest revenue boosters any team can hope for: a new stadium, and a World Series title.

    Right when the allure of the new stadium (which is subpar compared to some of the other new parks) started to wear off, they started making the playoffs.

    And Gillick was a beast with his smart in-house and outside signings during his tenure.

    Pretty much every key player is locked up for at least the next two or three years. Myers is really the only potential free agent to worry about after the season.