Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports wrote a lengthy article about the state of the Dodgers, particularly how the pending divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt will affect the club. It is a well-intentioned and thorough article, complete with quotes from both Frank McCourt and the attorney for Jamie McCourt, as well as an explanation of the possible effects of divorce on the franchise (although, anyone who has read Joshua Fisher's work at Dodger Divorce over the last few months has been sufficiently informed). I do have one small quibble with Brown's article, regarding the Dodger payroll:
Because half of Ramirez’s $20 million salary for 2010 is deferred, the Dodgers are expected to pay about $80 million in salaries, a significant drop from last season’s $100 million or so. While payroll represents only a portion of the club’s overhead, one industry insider estimated revenues at about $350 million.
Emphasis mine. I don't doubt that the Dodgers will have a lower payroll this season, but I think Brown is overstating the case here. The Dodger payroll in 2009 ended up at roughly $110 million, but that was after various bonuses were reached and player acquisitions were made. Since we can't see the future, predicting the final 2010 year-end payroll is tough. However, it's close enough to April 5 that we can reasonably project the opening day payroll. Comparing this year's opening day payroll to last, the two years really aren't that far apart:
|Dead Money||Dead Money|
|2009 Opening Day:||$102,107,250||2010 Opening Day:||$94,662,760|
I made some assumptions regarding the pre-arbitration players for 2010, and those are the salaries of Jeff Weaver, Nick Green, and Doug Mientkiewicz or Brian Giles should they make the club. See the payroll worksheet for more details, especially regarding the "dead money," or money paid to players no longer on the team. But the point is that the difference between this year and last is about $7.5 million, not the $20 million as Brown suggested.
I haven't even factored in money the Dodgers received via insurance from Jason Schmidt's contract in these totals, but if you look at the non-Schmidt money, the Dodgers could actually be spending more in payroll this season than last. That might be a bit of a stretch, but at the very least I believe the payroll concerns for this season are overblown. There might be cause for concern, but as is usually the case, it's never as bad as our worst fears suggest. Will the Dodgers spend money during the season if needed? Only time will tell.