• Money Matters

    Originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.

    I’m constantly struck by how so many otherwise intelligent people suddenly sound like idiots when discussing issues related to money. A number of these people are certainly not idiots… they’re accomplished business owners and/or people who have achieved considerable success at running businesses. So if they aren’t as stupid as the words they’re saying makes them sound, one can only assume that they think the people hearing/reading their words are stupid enough to believe what they’re saying.

    Yes, I’m referring primarily to the Twins front office.


    It was over a month ago that the Twins held a press conference and made owner Jim Pohlad, President Dave St. Peter and General Manager Terry Ryan available to the mainstream media. Predictably, the topic of the team’s potential 2013 payroll came up. Also predictably, the Twins brass was non-committal. Here’s an excerpt from the story written at the time by MLB.com’s Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger (click here for the link):
    Pohlad said that payroll will not be a concern this offseason, but wouldn’t give a firm number on what that will be. The Twins entered the 2012 season with a payroll right around $100 million.

    “We’ve never told anybody they have to spend ‘X’ dollars or that they can’t spend whatever they are recommending,” Pohlad said. “So it could go up, it could go down. It’s whatever Terry tells us. We’ve talked about spending in that 50 percent of revenue, but it doesn’t mean Terry will spend that.”


    Ryan said that the payroll situation will be fluid and that it should not hinder him from acquiring the starting pitching the club needs to compete next season.


    “I think we can quit fooling ourselves that money is the answer,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to make good decisions to create a pitching staff that’s going to give us a chance.”

    Well, I’m glad they put that question to rest, aren’t you? I’m so glad to know that money doesn’t matter.

    We don’t know whether the Twins could have made a deal with the Marlins for the same package of players that they dealt to Toronto last week. There’s absolutely no doubt, however, that the addition of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes would have gone a long way toward addressing the biggest holes in the Twins lineup and the level of players the Jays sent back to Miami certainly could have been made available by the Twins.

    So why wasn’t it the Twins that made the deal? I don’t know. But it’s such a friggin relief to know that whatever the reason was, it wasn’t money!

    The Twins also lost Scott Baker to the Cubs last week. Baker got a good deal. $5.5 million guaranteed with another $1.5 million in incentives on a straight one year deal. According to the Star Tribune’s beat reporter, Joe Christensen, the Twins were very interested in keeping Baker, but wanted an option year for 2014, which Baker wouldn’t agree to. Again, it makes me feel so much better to know that the reason Baker won’t be wearing a Twins uniform in 2013 had nothing whatsoever to do with money.

    Here’s something I’ve learned from working in Corporate America for the past 30+ years: Whenever someone in senior management tells you, “It’s not about the money,” that means that money is exactly what it’s all about.

    As Twins fans, we’ve become programmed to just accept the “company line.” We’ve been hearing it since the days of Calvin Griffith and on through the Pohlad era at the Metrodome. Sure, there were hints that having a new stadium and the revenues it would generate might change things, but by and large, the fan base has continued to just accept the, “we’ll spend 50% of revenue on payroll,” line of crap that has always come out of the Twins’ offices.

    It has become second nature, to the point where Twins fans seem to almost think that’s how every Major League team does business and we act surprised when other teams behave differently.

    The Tigers went to the World Series, but clearly needed to improve at a corner outfield position. They looked for the best option on the market, moved quickly and signed Torii Hunter to a deal that seemed like it was a little excessive, given his age. How can they do that? Won’t that mean their payroll might exceed half of their revenues? Ah, but they’ve got an old owner who wants to win a World Series before he dies, so that’s why they can do what the Twins won’t, right?

    The Blue Jays saw themselves needing much the same kind of help that the Twins need. They agreed to take on more years of higher salaries than they might have really been comfortable with, but they made the deal because they want to compete. But that’s ridiculous, right? Boy, they’ll sure regret having Buehrle and Reyes on the payroll toward the back end of those contracts because in a couple of years, their payroll might exceed half their revenues! Ah, but they’re owned by a giant Communications conglomerate and that’s why they aren’t limited as to payroll.

    I’ve got a news flash, folks. Every team starts the offseason with a self-examination that identifies what their biggest needs are. The next step for most teams that are committed to being competitive is to identify the best options available via free agency or trades to meet the identified needs. Unless you’re the Rays (who have a whole bunch of financial issues unrelated to the quality of their team), your front office knows that the quality of the product on the field drives revenue.

    But if you’re a Twins fan, you’ve been conditioned not to ask who would best fill the team’s needs, but who would fit in to the Twins’ designated payroll limit. That’s because the Twins have historically seemed oblivious to the basic business tenet that product quality drives revenues.

    They’ve brainwashed fans in to believing that the only reasonable way to operate a business is by subscribing to the theory that a drop in revenues last year means they must cut payroll next year. It’s time for fans to become deprogrammed from that mindset and let the Twins know that their fan base is not as stupid as the club has treated them as being.

    Maybe I’m being premature with this criticism. After all, it’s still early in the offseason and the Winter Meetings are still a couple of weeks away. Terry Ryan may actually sign honest-to-goodness legitimate starting pitchers to fill the Twins’ needs in that area, regardless of the cost. He may make a trade or two that will improve the middle infield, even if it means making his bosses nervous. Maybe he’ll prove that his words about payroll not hindering him from doing his job were more than just more of the same BS we’ve heard for the past decade.

    But until the Twins start ACTING like money doesn’t matter, they should stop saying it. It just makes them look like fools… or like they think that’s what we are.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Money Matters started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 90 Comments
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      The only thing I agree with on this artcile is yes money does matter, but then to say the Twins don't spend money or are cheap is totally wrong. It's already been brought up - The Twins have had Top-10 payroll in 10, 11 and Top-15 in 12. So we are crying they don't spend enough? It seems it's brought up Mauer doesn't count and that's why we are in the Top-10 in payroll. He's part of the team, they signed quality guys last year. Willingham got a three year deal. The Twins spend money. If they have a payroll between 85-115 million we are lucky compared to other clubs. The Twins have finished with the 2nd worst record in 2011 and the 4th worst record this year and we didn't sell off every player we have and it looks like we will still be a Top-15 team in Salary for 2013. The Twins spend enough money to compete. If you worked in the Corporate World the business is in it to make a profit. For Detroit the Owner wants to win not make money. That's fine but I don't see why we should expect the Polads to think that way. They want to make money, and that's their right. What they are spending is fair and it should give the Twins a chance to win. Signing Tori Hunter a muli-year contract at age 37 for 7 figures is dumb. Toronto took a huge risk on guys with a history of injuries and/or back loaded and long contracts. They play in a tough division the Twins do not. With all the payroll they took on they still will probably have a payroll around 115 million and took on huge risk. The Twins can complete with a payroll between 85-100 million right now and for less in the future if guys like Rosario, Sano, Arcia, Gibson, Berrios, Hendriks, Revere and Hicks turn
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      You probably also wouldn't mind if the starting salary at your company was $450,000 per year. I know I wouldn't!

      I just want to say, "thanks" to everyone who's read and contributed to the discussion of this article. Whether you agree with what I wrote or not, I've enjoyed the sprited, yet generally respectful, debate. It certainly goes to show just how difficult Terry Ryan's job is right now.

      As we near Thanksgiving, one of the things I'm personally thankful for is the Twins blogging community, in particular my co-bloggers at Knuckleballs and the TwinsDaily crew who have provided this venue for Twins-based discussions like this. Being a Twins fan isn't easy these days, but it's a heck of a lot more fun having so many great fans here with whom to share the experience, for better or worse.

      I hope everyone has a terrific holiday!
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      Oh, so now you're saying they're spending too much and really going out of their way for payroll? Everyone should be thrilled with what they spend and feel lucky we have such generous owners?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Same to you, Jim. Thanks for all the great contributions.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      Oh, so now you're saying they're spending too much and really going out of their way for payroll? Everyone should be thrilled with what they spend and feel lucky we have such generous owners?
      No, but thanks for playing.
    1. Blake's Avatar
      Blake -
      Jim, there is another possibility that is being ignored. There are signs the economy is sliding back into recession. I suspect Twins management is probably caught on the horns of a dilemma from a financial standpoint. Suppose the team makes some expensive moves and manages to get in contention, but people just don't have the money to attend games? Were I the Twins, I'd be crunching a lot of numbers, trying to figure out if the decline in attendance can be completely attributed to putting a bad product on the field.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      Oh, so now you're saying they're spending too much and really going out of their way for payroll? Everyone should be thrilled with what they spend and feel lucky we have such generous owners?
      So what teams beside the Marlins for the obvious choice keep their payroll under 50% of revenue?

      The 50% of revenue would be perfectly acceptable if the paid for their own stadium and didn't force taxpayers to help the pocket so much money every season. I just can't wait for the day when the Pohlads are no longer involved with the Twins.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      Oh, so now you're saying they're spending too much and really going out of their way for payroll? Everyone should be thrilled with what they spend and feel lucky we have such generous owners?
      No, but thanks for playing.
      That is exactly what your post implied...
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by darin617 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      I would love it of my company spent 50-52% of revenue on payroll....although I wouldn't have my job for very long under those circumstances.
      Oh, so now you're saying they're spending too much and really going out of their way for payroll? Everyone should be thrilled with what they spend and feel lucky we have such generous owners?
      So what teams beside the Marlins for the obvious choice keep their payroll under 50% of revenue?

      The 50% of revenue would be perfectly acceptable if the paid for their own stadium and didn't force taxpayers to help the pocket so much money every season. I just can't wait for the day when the Pohlads are no longer involved with the Twins.
      Tampa Bay, Oakland, most teams other than a handful peg payroll somewhere around 50%. Wish the Pohlads away if you like, I think you'll be disappointed if you expect more from somebody else.
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