Mariners Analysis

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mariner budget declining

As we wait to hear what Matsuzaka's posting will be, there still persists much speculation on why the Mariner's didn't bid. The fit is obvious- the M's need pitching, he's Japanese, no trade assets required (which is good, since the M's don't have much to play with), he would be a fan favorite etc... yet in the end, the M's declined.

There is no question the Boras factor scared a few teams off. With numbers being thrown out like $30 million just to start the conversation, a fiscally conservative team like the M's is almost always out of the conversation. After all, until Beltre and Sexson, this team has never played in the mega-contract arena, and we all know the jury is still out on those two signings.

The plain truth is the M's don't have the money to sign a player like Matsuzaka. Attendance is declining, and it will be interesting to see if the M's even hold the same budget this year, much less increase it. Let's look at payroll for the M's the past few years- (courtesy usa today)

2006 $ 87,959,833
2005 $ 87,754,334
2004 $ 81,515,834
2003 $ 86,959,167
2002 $ 80,282,668
2001 $ 74,720,834

As you can see, the M's payroll was the highest it has ever been this season. Attendance was down, so we have to assume if the M's hold the same budget, that money will need to be replaced. Either the owners will pay down less debt then usual, or they might even need to invest (gasp!) money to keep it even.

The problem with holding your payroll the same is to ignore the competitive landscape. Baseball is awash in cash. There is so much money in play, the owners and players were even able to reach a labor agreement. Literally everybody wins in todays game. With the average baseball player set to make almost $3 million a year, payroll is going up, up, up.

So for the Mariners, if you hold your payroll the same, you are literally falling behind from a budget perspective. Having an extra ten million dollars in your pocket doesn't get you what it used to. It's like hyper-inflation. It seems like you have plenty of money, but everything is so expensive you are broke before you know it.

The Mariners aren't going to tip their hand on what the 2007 budget will be. They also aren't going to tell us if trading Beltre or Sexson is currently on the table.

Take every free agent out there, and increase what it will take to land them in your head. It's like buying a house in a hot market. You know that house should only cost $250k, but you end up having to spend $400k because that’s the new rate. The Mariners are going to find with all the money pouring in, everything is more expensive.

Gas costs more. Housing costs more. Food costs more. Baseball players costs more.

It's entirely possible the M's don't achieve their off season goals, due to sticker shock and the market. This is a bad time to have to fill out your starting rotation with free agents.