Kap's Corner

The Cubs Payroll Evolution

In 2003, the Chicago Cubs payroll was $80 million. In 2004, coming off a run to the NLCS, the Cubs payroll escalated to $90 million. 2005 saw the team shave the number to 87 million, and not until 2008 did the player payroll crack the 100 million dollar mark. So how did the Cubs go from spending 99 million dollars in 2007, to roughly 145 million, which is where their payroll is estimated to reach in 2010? Several factors played into the...

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joeydafish said:

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Kap, regardless of the two higher ups that "acted" with Hendry, it's not that we blame any of them for the FREE SPENDING, it's HOW and on WHO the money was spent on and doesn't that come down on Henry alone? He sure may have gotten approval from Moe and Larry but it was Curly who targeted the players. Hendry has made some wise decisions such as Lilly, and the signing of DeRosa BUT the few wise decisions pale in comparison to the Soriano, Fukodome, Bradley, Miles, Heillman, Gregg acquisitons not to mention the trading of one of his better, practical and econimidally fundamental contracts...DeRosa. Hendry's brain cramps for the 2009 season are inexcusable.

GeorgeG said:

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Yes, DeRosa/Bradley: inexcusable and may have cost the season. Everyone knows that Aramis Ramirez misses time every year, sometimes months and DeRosa was your man. Not to mention his ability to provide offense at 2B or in RF.

Agreed get Halliday. He wants a team that trains in Florida. Make the move to Naples and make the trade for Halliday. Starlin Castro has less than a 1% chance of becoming an all-star. Halladay is the best pitcher in the league. No-brainer, but then again, keeping DeRosa was a no-brainer too, this might be too hard.

JF said:

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The payroll increase occurred over 6-7 seasons. They did win two division titles; 3 if you count 2003. Backloaded contracts are no doubt the Tribune Co's doing. At some point backloading leads to another year being added to a contract too. The wisdom of Hendry's free agent signings leaves alot to be desired. The farm system hasn't produced enough. Hendry has done a reasonably good job with trades.

I can see wanting to fill seats after that 06 season, but I don't see where backloading contracts helped with the value in selling the franchise. I think the Tribune Co. didn't want to spend the money or couldn't spend it, so they had to backload or bust.

There is potential for things to improve under new ownership.

joeydafish said:

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Agreed, Hendry's wisdom regarding free agents leaves at least a lot to be desired but I am curious what trades you are talking about that he has done a reasonably good job?
I can think of the Ramirez and Lofton trade with Pittsburgh and the Lee trade with Florida. Was the Hundley for Karros trade with LA a good one because that was one of Hendry's complete flops in getting Hundley to begin with, the same scenario may be playing out with Bradley. Was the DeRosa for 3 minor leaguers a good trade? That is debatable because the minor leaguer haven't shown up yet. So Hendry has made some arguably good trades but not reasonably good...I suppose the only way to tell is for somebody (Kap?) to compile a list of Hendry's trades and see where each player is now, on the Cubs, traded again and for who, etc. I think that would make an interesting list. There have been a lot of trades by Hendry that get lost over time and just forgotten about..Matt Murton, Eric Patterson, Jason Marquis. Not that I'm saying we miss these guys just that I am wondering what and where is the value in the players received?

TracyT said:

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The inflexibility of the payroll will force Hendry and Kenney to rely on their farm system and scouting department to key on more lower-tier and mid-tier players, so this is not necessarily a bad thing. If it's one thing keen baseball observers have known, it's that you can't buy yourself championships.

I hate the fact that many fans always ask if they're going to significantly raise payroll year in and year out. Yes, high payrolls help very much, ONLY if you sign the right players.

joeydafish said:

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Right you are, high payrolls for the right players more times than not will buy you a championship i.e. the Yankees with occassional exceptions i.e. the Yankees. The Cubs certainly have a hign enough payroll to be considered buyers of a championship but don't have the right man in charge signing the right players.

TracyT said:

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I'm feeling more and more that Hendry will not be around much longer. He might fulfill his contract, but that's it. Many things have to fall in place for Hendry to stick around, namely get back in the playoffs and win a few games. Looking at this team today...I wonder.

What has to happen for them to get in the playoffs?

1) Health and productivity of their core players. Can you depend on your top guys to stay healthy and give you their normal numbers? If Ramirez goes down again for a stretch, or Lee god forbid, then you open a tremendous hole. For a couple of seasons, it seemed like Hendry was aware of this potential outcome and he went out and got guys like Derosa who filled in nicely. I don't see guys who can fill in.

2) Soriano must come back and produce. How much of last season was the cause of an injury versus just being bad, broken down and his best seasons behind him? If he doesn't come back and be productive, this contract will be in the top two or three blunders that ultimately cost Hendry his job

3) Zambrano must become an elite pitcher, or close to it. He's lost 15 pounds, and wants to prove that he's better than the 9-win season. He should have a better record for sure, but this guy will never live up to his full potential much less his contract. My guess is you'll see a few blowups, lapses in concentration, and the like, after a handful of starts.

4) Some guys on the team need to over-achieve. Who expected Ryan Dempster to win 17 games a couple of years ago, or see Soto belt 23 homers? Last year, you had a slew of guys have abysmal years. So it can go both ways. If Hendry's lucky, some guys will bounce back and have good years, and maybe a few surprises.

5) Youth coming up. Will we see the young minor leaguers like Vitters or Castro come up and help in a pinch? I don't see either one making a big splash at all in '10. Perhaps in 20111, though. It better be in '11, or else Hendry won't see any of them for much longer. Simply put, with all these back-loaded contracts, it is an absolute must that Hendry and Company get some farm talent up and actually make a difference.

6) Key free agent signings. Gone are the days of signing the biggest guys out there. But they can still bring in free agents at reasonable prices. The key is, once again, evaluating the talent and determining who's a good fit and what you can get out of him. Do the Cubs have the right scouting methods to do this?

Kodak11 said:

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Great article. It's nice to see a sportswriter pushing the envelope. Whether Cubs management admits it or doesn't, they read what you write. Thanks for the effort.

Make no mistake about it, had the Cubs dealt for Halladay, all of baseball would have predicted to see the Cubs in the World Series.

Lastly, I think it's time to consider going into the next season with Bradley in the line-up. Man, things would be so much easier if Bradley would just swallow his pride and really apologize. I don't mean like he did at the end of the season. He needs to go to Jim Hendry and say that he wants to stay and he wants to get it right. Then, throughout the season, if he doesn't want to talk to the media, he should give short, pleasant responses to media questions.

The thing that bothered me about him is that he would say that he didn't want to talk to the media, or that he didn't like what they were doing. Well...that's talking to the media.

You know, you can be difficult to get along with and still be professional. Bradley should want this to work with the Cubs. He should feel bad that he has put Jim Hendry in the position he has. He should want to succeed for Hendry, and Hendry should make that clear to Bradley. I'm not saying he hasn't, but if he hasn't, he certainly should.

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