While some writers are just coming to grips with the Dodger payroll situation, and blaming it on the divorce, if you have been reading TBLA since the summer of 2008 you know this is not all about the divorce. As dire as the financial situation has looked this fall, with the following news, it is about to get even dire.
1. The Dodgers signed Jamey Carroll to a two year, four Million dollar deal. Yet they can't even afford to pay the 25th player on the team his full two million. Once again they are deferring money, but this time to a nickel and dime player by major league salary standards.
2. The great www.dodgerdivorce.com website writes about how the actual divorce proceedings are taking a toll on Frank's finances to the tune of $700,000 in the month of November alone. When someone asks how the divorce can impact the Dodgers this might be your answer. It is unclear if Frank is footing this bill based on his income from the Dodgers or if the Dodgers themselves are footing some of this. Either way, you can see why Frank is saying NO to any additional spending in 2010.
3. To accentuate the fact the Dodgers will not be adding payroll they apparently could add Aaron Harang by simply moving Sherrill's expected $4.3M 2010 contract for Harang's. However, the Dodgers don't have the money to add the difference in salary between Harang and Sherrill, so prospects would need to be headed the Reds way for them to eat the difference in the 2010 salary. That is right, Ohio baseball teams are again willing to eat salary to steal away Los Angeles Dodgers prospects from the team with the number one attendance figures in the NL. Luckily this deal may be dead but even still, expect something similar to happen. The Dodgers have established the pattern of selling prospects for salary relief and I expect that pattern to continue until Frank once again has money or we have run out of tradeable prospects.
The Dodgers finances might be facing the perfect storm.
1. Over leveraged debt payment where the plan has gone askew and the revenues did not keep pace thus resulting in the 20 Million drop in salary from opening day 2008 to opening day 2009.
2. Divorce proceeding are going to bleed the Dodgers or Frank dry for the next few months and aren't they the same thing? If these numbers from Nov - May hold steady you are looking at $4.2 Million in legal fees. According to court documents filed by Frank, he has little liquid assets, so how is he paying for these legal fees?
3. Robbing Paul to pay Peter, the deferred contracts that allowed the Dodgers some wiggle room in 2009, and other bad contracts, are coming home to roost as the Dodgers will be paying $14 Million to players no longer on the roster in 2010. Using simple math, if the Dodgers end up with a 100 Million dollar payroll, roughly 14% of the payroll will be paid out to players no longer on the team. Other teams may be doing deferred contracts but no one is doing it like the Dodgers. Our effective payroll is more like $86 Million or about $54 Million less then the team we are chasing. It will only get worse in 2011 when we start paying for Manny as he DH''s for another team.
4.More robbing Paul to pay Peter, selling prospects for salary relief. This might easily have the largest future impact on the club. Many of you may not want to hear this again but would you rather be paying Russell Martin $6 Million for an OPS of .700 - .750 or Carlos Santana $400,000 for an OPS of 800-850. These are just projections, but Baseball HQ's latest projection for 2010 has one Carlos Santana with a projected OPS in 2010 of .268/.388/.485. Would you rather be paying Jamey Carroll Two Million dollars for an OPS production of .636? This is right .636, for some reason 36 year old light hitting infielders don't age well. Go Figure. Or pay Tony Abreu $400,000 to put up a these numbers as projected by Baseball HQ .299/.329/.470. Of course that is based on Tony playing in Arizona but still, you'd have a top flight defensive 2nd baseman, switch hitter with some pop, playing for the minimum. When you don't have money it seems even stranger to me to be selling your cost effective assets, but that is what short term thinking will get you.
The saddest part of this whole thing is that the Dodgers have a great core of young cheap players who over the next two years could be an impact team if the Dodgers were not facing this financial crisis. As it is this core can keep the Dodgers competitive but oh what could have been with some forward thinking, or the money you'd expect a franchise like the Dodgers to be able to spend. The Dodgers could easily have matched up with the Indians for Cliff Lee last summer if they had been willing to take on salary. The reason the Indians want more, and every team wants more is because we won't take on a full salary. The Dodgers should be the team who says I'll give you this guy, this guy, and Five Million to take the son of a bitch Cliff Lee off your hands. Instead we are the team who says, I'll give this guy, this guy, this guy, and this guy, if you will pay a part of his salary.
This is our current situation. I'm out of positives. I'm disgusted. Today I fear and I loathe what the McCourts have done and will do. This team will still win but we now look at every deal the way the KC Royal fans look at every deal. No mistakes can be allowed anymore, because we don't have the wherewithal to sweep those mistakes under the mat. You think I want to look at a Jamey Carroll deal in detail? I don't, we shouldn't care if the Dodgers paid value for Carroll, but we have to because 2 Million spent on Carroll is 2 Million less that we have to spend on a fourth starter. Or that 2 Million could be the difference between keeping Elbert or trading Elbert when we need a team to eat salary.
I understand that Frank is having financial troubles, and I'd be very receptive to his troubles if he hadn't brought them on himself, or if he'd quit selling our future in the form of deferred payments or prospects to pay for his current dreams. If you can't afford the players, then quit buying them. Use the prospects, don't sell them. Wait out the FA period, look for the bargains. You have no money, start acting like it and quit pretending your Eli Broad when you are nothing more then an overextended American citizen like the rest of us.