Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sox Budget Rant and Really, Really, Complicated, Poorly-Reasearched Financial Records

It’s a shame that major league baseball isn’t a publicly traded company, but I’ve nevertheless decided to go ahead with my research. Perhaps it’s my “real life job” that’s been taking over my brain and causing me to become obsessed with the White Sox budget, but nevertheless, it is something we need to look at, considering that Kenny Williams often talks about how he doesn’t have a dollar.

The closest I can come to financial records are what the folks at Forbes have researched for me. In 2008, the Sox made $196 million in revenue (of which $71 million are gate receipts) and the expenses for the team (Operating plus salaries) are $139.8. Over 90% of expenses come from “player expenses.” As of 2009, about $93 million are accounted for on as player salaries. Assuming 93 million is all the Sox are playing for salaries and all the players leaving this year are about $25 million and actually off the books for good, the Sox are freeing up about 27% of its salary budget. Not to mention that this list does not include Jim Thome, Jose Contreras, and whoever else we dumped mid-season. When you take all of this into account, the Sox have a small fortune to spend on players. Sure, there are other salaries, and administrative expenses, but those cannot add up to the remainder. Especially since this remainder (not including the newly-freed-up budget) is, by this estimate, about $56 million in profit, that Jerry Reinsdorf can spend on whatever he chooses. Do the Sox have $80 million to spend? probably not. But they do have somewhere between $25 and $80 and that's no small change.

So… Kenny… I no longer believe you when you say you don’t have $1. That your boss doesn’t want to spend $1… that would be a different story.

Case in point: Scott Podsenik. Scotty made half a mill this year. Less than DeWayne Wise and Dayan Viciedo, whose contribution to the White Sox was about 1% that of Scotty’s. Combined. I’d think Scotty was in the right even if he demanded as much as Alex Rios. (Who, by the by, makes about $6.4 million a year. Hard-earned, aren’t they?) Don’t tell me you can’t afford his salary, and tell me that instead, you’re looking to invest in a slow-running, slugger-type outfielder. I’m not trying to make the case for Scotty here, I’m just saying the Sox’s case against him seems pretty weak at this point.

But it’s not just Scotty that I’m talking about. I’m talking about Bobby Jenks. No doubt, he’ll be asking for an arm and a leg. And that’s because it’s the standard among closers. Jenks makes about half of what Joe Nathan does and about a third of what Mariano Rivera makes. Among other high-paid closers are Kerry Wood, F. Rod, and B.J. Ryan. Jenks is rated about 6th in terms of effectiveness and seems to be in the appropriate salary range. And, you know what? In another Forbes article, Jenks was ranked as the #2 best relief pitcher for the buck. Would I rather pay him $250,000? Sure. But if we have to pay him $7 million, I wouldn’t be too upset. If the Sox don’t resign Jenks, I want them to cite his work medical or effectiveness concerns, not salary concerns.

What am I ranting about here? Well, a little research (okay, not that little. Finding the financial records of the MLB is harder than finding out Obama's private phone number) will show you that Sox have the money to spend. So, this off-season, instead of sitting back and making bonehead moves because Jerry/Kenny were too cheap to dip into the free agent market for what we really need (outfielders, serious-non-Thornton-non-Carrasco, bullpen support), let’s use our brain. Let’s not rely on the likes of DeWayne Wise again. Brent Lillibridge is not a valid outfield option. Jayson Nix is not a valid starter as DH. The Sox can do better. The Sox should do better. The Sox should stop complaining about the economy.

To Kenny Williams: I dare you to stand behind what you say. Release the Sox’s financial records like the Brewers did in 2004.

If you're wondering where I got my numbers, have some links:

[ESPN Roster/Salaries] [About Costs of U.S. Cellular Field] [Jerry Reinsdorf Wikipedia] [Forbes Baseball Values] [Sports Illustrated Closer Rankings] [Forbes Best Pitchers for the Buck]

No comments: