Monday, October 09, 2006

Giants Have $45M to spend

According to article in SJ Merc yesterday (read soon as Merc only allows 7 days to read for free)by Andy Baggarly (whom I enjoy reading, BTW), the Giants have $45M to spend since their budget is $85M and they have $40.3M in contracts committed currently. This is about $10-15M more than most discussions I have read about how much the Giants had to spend, so it opens the possibility of getting more high powered free agents than we could have speculated before, though spread over, say, 6 starting positions, that only adds $2M per position, not much of an upgrade on any one position, but a big upgrade if they lump it all under one position.

The interesting note was that while the $40.3M in committed payroll includes deferred signing bonuses due in 2007, including $1.28M to Kirk Rueter (which I don't think most people accounted for), it does not include deferred salary payments to Bonds which begin next year because, "according to the club, deferred salary comes out of a different budget." Most people have been subtracting this $5M in their calculations.

Why the Different Budget Exists

What most people did not account for, and that I forgot until now, was that the big issue from the last CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) was the cutting off of the loophole teams were using with deferred salaries to move up spending from future period into present period. Previously, they could just defer it and wait until it was due to actually account and pay for it.

With the new CBA, teams were only allowed a $2M in total deferment, like a deductible, but otherwise must fund the total deferment in a separate account with an amount equal to the present value of the defered amount by the third January 1st (so basically 2 years) after the season the defered income was earned. In other words, in times of low interest rates, essentially the full amount had to be funded in another account minus interest that will be earned in the years between this funding and the actual payment, after about two years. So you could defer it 5 years like the Giants did for Bonds, but they had to fund around $4M of the $5M owed Bonds, after two years and add a little each year.

This loophole actually allowed teams to basically borrow money from players without it showing up as debt on their balance sheets (at least the way they do their accounting, which apparently is from a Bizarro world). The fear on the part of the players union was that a team that used that loophole extensively, like the D-backs, could buy a championship but then go bankrupt in future years by doing that and the players would end up with nothing. So the last CBA shut that down, except for $2M per year. Bud Selig didn't like it because teams were circumventing his rules on the ratio of debt to team value that he wanted teams to stick to or get punished in some way.

Replacing Ned Colletti

There are other interesting factoids about Sabean's management in there, including functions done by certain execs under him, that are in the article. It gives a partial view to the functions of some of the Giants key executives under Sabean. One has an interesting implication/interpretation to me.

In addition to Colletti negotiating most contracts, he also made most exploratory phone calls with other executives in baseball (which I'm interpreting to mean that he was the one who initiated and closed the A.J. Pierzynski trade without running it by Magowan - as Magowan alleged in a statement he made a year or so back that he would have vetoed the trade had it gone through him as it usually did - because Sabean was experienced enough to know that he would need to do that, I would think). Thus Sabean was left without this conduit to all the other teams, which could have inhibited his trade actions this season.

When Colletti left, there was talk about spreading the duties among the other execs. Pat Dobson was one and apparently he cut back on his advance scouting to allow for more brainstorming sessions with Sabean. Bobby Evans was another. He had handled negotiations for minor league contracts previously and was promoted to director of player personnel after Colletti left (whatever that title means exactly).

Loud by his name being absent from the article, is right hand man Dick Tidrow, who was, hmm, Director of Player Personnel, according to the 2006 Giants Media Guide (I've bought one each year for nearly 20 years now). Oddly enough, that's Evans' new title, I wonder what happened to Tidrow. I would have thought he would be the one to have brainstorming sessions with Sabean (and perhaps he did but it wasn't mentioned in the article and he wasn't mentioned at all, period).

The article noted that, as last commented on, in July, Sabean said that he planned to reorganize the front office this winter. Part of the plan is to perhaps bring in someone whose skills are a closer match for what Colletti brought to the group. If I recall right, there was someone working for the Washington Nationals who worked with Sabean before and who has Ned's skills, but I haven't seen his name since then.

It was noted that Colletti was the man most closely connected to the other GMs, many of whom were young, wore neckties, and did not come from the scouting department. However, it was noted, with the workload this offseason, an assistant would probably be down the list of priorities and he probably won't have time to hire one.

Who Might the Giants Get

The article noted some possibilities of what the Giants will do. The Giants are expected to make a run at re-signing 2B Ray Durham, who is looking for a 2-year contract with an option, which, coincidentally, most Giants fans have been saying that's what they would offer him. Both Feliz and Hillenbrand hope to return but the Giants will probably only keep one because of their low OBP. It will probably come down to who signs first and Feliz might be motivated to stay because his children attend school in the Bay Area.

Even if Bonds is signed, the Giants need another OF to replace Moises Alou - I guess the Linden era will have to wait another season. The author notes - indicating that he got this from Giants sources - that they prefer a CF/leadoff hitter so that Randy Winn can shift to a corner OF spot. He also speculated that Carl Crawford might be available but prohibitively priced, as it might take both Lowry and Sanchez to get him.

He also noted that among the challenges Sabean faces, he must determine how to replace Jason Schmidt atop the rotation, he must prepare for contingencies in case Benitez and/or Matheny are not available next season.


  1. Keep in mind that the salary budget is just that, what they supposedly aim to spend. It's not a cap or a limit or a rule.

    The Giants apparently operate under the principle of providing a dividend to the investors and poormouth their growing franchise value. They never run a deficit.

    I don't know how big the All-Star windfall will be, but the game is the least of the local profit-makers. The team is going to run something like the All-Star fair that Pittsburgh ran this summer that had about 900,000 attendees at $20 a pop. I don't know how much they had to share.

    Bonds is probably about $5 to $7 million additional revenue over any other individual if he signs because of people going just to see him, more national TV games, and constant coverage even if the Giants aren't a very good team. Plus, Barry being the Giants rep at the All-Star game will be better for the whole weekend than Randy Winn or a pitcher.

    They don't need to be limited to the $85 million, in particular, this year. At the same time, the free agent market just isn't any good.

  2. Nice post. My question is, what if the D-Rays would be willing to trade Crawford for Sanchez and Lowry? Do you do it? I would almost certainly pull the trigger. I'd be concerned about giving away Sanchez's future, but Lowry's soft-tossing might get real hittable real fast. Plus, we'd be getting a guy who is close to being a superstar and who will be just 25 next season. I'm drooling at the prospect. I think it'd be a no-brainer, actually.

    Then again, I think it'd probably take Lincecum to get Crawford, as the Devil Rays will certainly be asking very high. Frankly, I can't believe they're entertaining thoughts of trading Crawford in the first place.

  3. Well, Sabean has painted himself into a corner then. He has publicly said that he's spending $85M in order to win in 2007. And most Giants fans agree that it would be tough at $85M, let alone any amount below that. That'll be hard to sell or market the team then.

    Well, last I heard, baseball is a business, so yeah, one would think that there is usually some sort of return on their investment at some point. But that's not a true statement if you believe the figures that Forbes has published annually on the value of baseball franchises and their estimates of their revenues and operating profits. All during the Candlestick years, the Giants ran deficits ranging from $0 to -$10M each year. And as late as 2002, the year of the World Series, Magawan said that the team was break even with the extra money that the playoffs brought in - it appeared that their policy was to run at about a -$10M for the season with the hope that the playoffs will bring them to breakeven. Look at the collection of data at Rod Fort's website, it's all there.

    If Bonds was as bad as he was this year at the All Star Break, it would be hard to get him on the team, SF or no SF. Cain would be my bet unless the sophomore "jinx" hits him. I'm betting on breakout year myself.

    But I agree, the free agent market is not that good, the Giants can only really improve if they can get a team to dump a good player with a big salary in their laps for secondary prospects, like a Pat Burrell perhaps.

    Thanks for the compliment. I'm bad at speculating what it would take in trade, but I agree that Lowry and Sanchez might be the gamble the Giants have to take to get a true up and comer star like Crawford. And I agree that there is some team out there who will offer more than that to get Crawford.

    But that would gut our rotation for 2007, Morris, Cain, then whom, Hennessey, Correia, Wright? I think strong pitching should be the identity of the team going forward, that plus speed, once Sabean gets the speedsters he needs. He has said in interviews that he sees the tide turning in baseball from sluggers to speedster, kind of back to the Rickey/Coleman/Raines era.

    To me, that's similar to the Cards of the Coleman era, lots of speed and good pitching.

    I think he has to keep the rotation top notch and it is too soon to be breaking up the rotation before it got it going good, I think I would be willing to stand losing 2-1, 3-2, because our pitching was so good, than to see us losing 6-5, 5-4, with a poorer rotation but better hitters.

    The Rays are loaded in OF, Delmon, Gomes, Rocco, looks like Upton might end up out there too, and Crawford should be in arb-years by now, so they trade him and his big salary (or soon to be, not sure where he is in eligibility) to get younger stars to mature same time as core group above.

  4. As I've mentioned somewhere on MCC, I think the Giants' best bet is to go after a free agent like Aramis Ramirez. I've openly supported trading for Tampa's Crawford and the Yankees' ARod, but when it boils down to it, it will end up costing the team too much.

    My logic is this: trading for a proven star, or an up-and-coming star (that other teams want as well) will take more than a few "AAA-soon-to-be-here" players. With the Giants in particular, they're thin in that category, so they'd most likely be trading from their major league club (similar to the Accardo for Hillenbrand+Chulk deal), and that hurts whatever "head-start" it is that they already have.

    For instance, if the Giants traded away Lowry (+ prospects) for ARod, sure they upgrade their offense. However, ARod comes at an additional 15 million next year compared to Lowry, which eats a HUGE hole into the budget. Not only is that chunk of the budget gone, but the team now needs a viable #3 or #4 starter, which doesn't come cheap anymore. So in the end, they may end up spending an additional 15 million for ARod and then 5-7 million for a #3 or #4.

    Trading for Crawford doesn't have the direct monetary impact that ARod has. If Martin is right and Crawford is arb-eligible, he'd still be coming at a relatively cheap price. So lets say slightly more than what Lowry will be paid next year. It'll probably take Sanchez, Wilson, Hennessey, or Correia in addition to Lowry, which will now eat away at an ADDITIONAL pitcher. The Giants come away with a star-to-be at relatively cheap, but will have to spend for a #3/#4 starter AND possibly a #5/bullpen pitcher.

    Speculation has been getting me all excited this past week, but when it comes down to it: Sabean has his work cut out for him. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does once the managerial situation gets resolved.

  5. Why is it so hard to believe that the Giants can compete in 2007 by spending this $45M in the Free Agent Market? I agree the Giants need to find solutions at 8 positions with this $45M (SP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and Closer)and that three of the offensive positions need to be quality 3/4/5 hitters. But why is this believed by most to be so hard to do? The following is just one example of how this could be accomplished.

    Catcher - Sign Greg Zaun for 2 years at $2M each. Greg only made $1M in each of the last two years and thus he most likely won't even cost this much but let's be conservative in our estimate. Greg is a switch hitter who would make an excellent platoon partner with Eliazer Alfonzo.

    1B - Sign Alfonzo Soriano at 6 years and $90M with $10M in 2007.
    Soriano will obviously be one of the 3/4/5 hitters.

    2B - Re-sign Ray Durham at 2 years and $15M with $6M in 2007, 7M in 2008, and a $2M buyout or $8M team option for 2009. Ray will be one of the 3/4/5 hitters.

    3B - Sign Rich Aurilia for two years at $3M each. Rich only made $1.3M last year and thus might be available for less then 2 years and $6M but again let's be conservative in our estimates.

    LF - Re-sign Barry Bonds at $10M in 2007. He might want more, but we all know he is not going to get it from the Giants or anyone else.

    RF - Open Competition and/or multiplayer platoon sharing between Mark Sweeney, Lance Niekro, Todd Linden, Jason Ellison, and Kevin Frandsen. When Mark Sweeney or Lance Niekro play Soriano moves to RF and they play 1B. When Kevin Frandsen plays Aurilia moves to 1B and Soriano moves to RF with Frandsen playing 3B.

    SP - Re-sign Jason Schmidt at 4 years and $48M with $10M in 2007 with the Giants having the option to buyout the 4th year for $2M if Jason does not pitch a combined 600 innings in the previous 3 years, 400 innings in the previous 2 years or 200 innings in the previous year.

    Closer - Sign both Kerry Wood and Eric Gagne to 1 year $2M contracts each with team options of 2 years and $15M each that becomes a player options with 50 Games Finished in 2007. It is a reasonable bet that at least one of these two will have a healthy rebound in 2007 and that the one that does will be worth the vesting option for 2008 and 2009.

    With this all $45M is spend and I at least think we have a team that is ready to compete in 2007 and is indeed younger, stronger, and faster then either our 2005 or 2006 teams.

  6. I'm actually with you Rainman, that I think it is achievable, but my level of confidence that will happen varies.

    For example, what you post for Soriano seems reasonable to me. However, I've seen other posters laugh at that amount and say he will get more. Also, not sure he will be for all the movements around the field, particularly since he feels that he's a 2B, though I haven't read anything yet on what he's willing and not willing to do for his next team.

    I like Aurilia too and would like to get back at a reasonable salary, which your suggestion seems like it is. I had suggested him somewhere, McC or Lefty's, because he can play multiple positions, which Sabean likes, allowing Sabes options if the other positions don't work out the way he hopes. I'm afraid that Colletti might snag him first though, he has a love of ex-Giants and a need for a corner IF if I remember right.

    Bonds seems reasonable to me too, but others have said he will get more.

    The most unlikely scenario is your Schmidt salary at $12M per. I think that's probably the starting bid for his services and I have seen some suggest he would get more than $15M per. I've been advocating for getting him to boost our rotation to elite status until Lincecum and/or Sanchez prove to be the real deal in the majors.

    Very creative for closer, but I have to believe if that is all they are getting, that the Cubs would easily match that for Wood, leaving all your eggs in the Gagne basket and, frankly, I don't see that basket having a bottom in it, he is a huge risk, whereas I think Wood, as closer, would not be over used enough to cause whatever it is that hurts his arm.

    Nice scenario overall, I agree with most of it except for the Schmidt one, but it seems pretty doable to me, but other's comments on what salary is reasonable make me doubt the likelihood of this working out the way we want it to.



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