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