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Twins cutting payroll by $15 million in third year at Target Field

Nov 8, 2011, 10:15 AM EDT

pohlad ryan st.peter

Lost in the shock of Minnesota firing Bill Smith as general manager and replacing him with the man he replaced in 2007, Terry Ryan, is that they dropped another bombshell on Twins fans, with Ryan revealing midway through the press conference that the team’s payroll will decline to “somewhere around $100 million.”

If true that would represent a $15 million drop from this year and leave little room to re-sign Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan, let alone add other free agents. Based on the current roster the Twins already have about $82 million committed for 2012.

As a Twins fan that’s incredibly frustrating because they need all kinds of help following a 99-loss season and Target Field was built on the notion that the increased revenue would lead to sustaining a large payroll. Instead they’re slicing the payroll by 10-15 percent in Year 3 of the taxpayer-funded ballpark and coming off arguably the worst season in team history.

Ryan replacing Smith was positive news for Twins fans, but he has a very difficult task ahead of him, significantly less spending money than expected, and plenty of holes to fill.

  1. JB (the original) - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    Not too surprising really. The 1st year at Target Field they could have sold twice the tickets they did (and as it was most all the games were sold out, and the scalpers were in heaven) and the team played fairly well. Then, based on that, they essentially sold out 2011 **before the season started** based on how 2010′s team performed and the newness of Target Field. Well, after the injuries, poor play, poor player pickups, etc. people stayed away in droves by the middle of last season. Even though the tickets were mostly all sold, I’m sure the souvenir and concessions aspects of the business took a big hit. With the Twins run as a ‘stand-alone’ business where the Administration and Player Payroll split the previous years revenues 50/50, it was pretty obvious that the payroll would come down quite a bit. You have to remember as well, that the Twins went outside their ‘comfort level’ going to $115M in the 1st place. They were aiming to be in the $105-$110M range.

    • JBerardi - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      Yeah, the taxpayers didn’t pony up $400 million for Target Field just so for Twins ownership to turn around and not turn a massive profit off of it. What a terrible investment that would be.

      Now, when does the dividend get paid, again?

      • paperlions - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        I’m sure this is exactly the kind of thing that will enthuse voters to support using more tax dollars to build the Vikings a new stadium.

    • Bryz - Nov 8, 2011 at 6:05 PM

      The 1st year at Target Field they could have sold twice the tickets they did….

      They sold out nearly every game. How could this have been possible?

      • JB (the original) - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:12 PM

        If the park had more seats…..
        as it was, they made the decision to sell 100′s (1000′s?) of “standing room” tickets to the balance of the games midway through the 1st season to help meet demand (and improve the profit margins as well). People were pissed at the fact they couldn’t even get tickets from the Twins at all and all the aftermarket “resellers” were naming whatever price they wanted.

  2. pkiguy22 - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Honestly, I don’t see much out there in the FA market that would really help this team out. The farm system needs some help and the current MLB team needs too much help that can’t be fixed by a few FA signings.

    If anyone could turn this team around in a few years, it is Ryan.

  3. SmackSaw - Nov 8, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    They’ve reverted back to being the Twins. Shoulda listened to Pohlad and contracted.

    • kopy - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      No.

    • JBerardi - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM

      If you mean they should have called his bluff… yeah.

      • SmackSaw - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        Minnesota hates ponying big money for pro sports. The list is long and about to get longer. The Twins will wallow for years until they get a fresh supply of players of players produced.

  4. El Jefe - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Honestly I’m not that worried. I see contracts that could be easily shed in the starting rotation. Pavano, Liriano, Baker and Slowey could all be traded away (or in Slowey’s case non-tendered). Granted this leaves the rotation rather thin but those players are all 3-5 starters anyways and there are always 3-5 starters out there willing to sign for cheap.

    • Cris E - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      League average-ish starters that can eat innings aren’t as common or cheap as you think. The main reason you seem so willing to dump the guys listed above is because they aren’t healthy, consistent or cheap, yet somehow you want to go grab another basket of the same thing. Pavano makes $10m because he’s been taking the ball for 200 IP the past few years and performing OK. Liriano is far better than average… some days, and Baker is good when he isn’t hurt. They all have flaws, but so do all the guys that are good enough to sign but aren’t #1 or #2 starters. Go find another heap of #4 guys that are cheaper and healthier and as good as these, I’ll wait.

      Frankly I’d see what the market for Liriano is, and Slowey is enough of an over-thinker that I might try to find someone so smart that they can fix him. But the money to be saved is coming from the bullpen (Nathan and Capps). I expect them to get Nathan back at a lower rate — they might be able move him down $4m in exchange for more years with a fat buy-out option at the end.

      • El Jefe - Nov 8, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        Challenge accepted. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/03/2012-mlb-free-agents.html How about half of that list. Not to mention Swarzak, Hendriks, Bromberg, Manship and others in the minors. I know, I know, the minors are not the majors. But If the Twins are truly in cost-cutting mode then the minor league players will become major league players sooner rather than later.

        And I’m not suggesting we drop Baker, Pavano and Liriano for nothing. I’m sure we could get at least one reliable starter in return for trading one of those guys.

  5. 78mu - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    This is another example of why taxpayers should not spend money for billionaire owners and millionaire players.

    Besides, if total revenues and payroll are so important to a team’s success, how do the Florida Marlins have two championships in less than 20 years while the Cubs have zero in 100.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 8, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      You had me until the Cubs comment.

  6. sknut - Nov 8, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    @Paperlions

    Football and baseball are different, with the salary cap its easy to tell if your owner is being cheap and one thing you can say about the Wilfs is they haven’t been cheap.

    I can’t get too worked up about this, I would rather have them spend the money the right way then just throwing it away. Of course when one guy makes 23 million that handicaps the construction of the rest of the roster a bit. If they take a step back to move forward I am ok with that. At least now I have more confidence in how the money will be spent.

    • paperlions - Nov 8, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Yes, but pretty much all stadium deals that include public money are bad deals for the local economy….voters (and even fans) are starting to realize this…the differences between the sport are almost irrelevant when it comes to voter opinions…if they are going to raise taxes…why not use those tax dollars to support something useful to those paying the bills, instead of as welfare for billionaires? Throw in the fact that football teams play 8 home games year and such facilities are not particularly useful for other events….and you have a hard sell in this economic climate.

      • wonkypenguin - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        Agreed with this. I’m against taxpayer funded stadiums altogether. BUT whether it is some sort of perception error on my part, I cannot possibly see justifying a stadium that is used 8 times a year. Why they couldn’t have decided to share the U of M stadium (if they insist they have to play outdoors and remove the home field advantage of the dome) that was just built? Then the thing would have been used, what? 14 times a year instead?

        I love Target Field and the fact that we get outdoor baseball here, but it just doesn’t make any economic sense.

  7. CJ - Nov 8, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Clearly they can’t remain competitive in their current stadium, it’s must be time to build a new stadium on the taxpayer’s dime to give the team a boost.

    That always works!

  8. greatminnesotasportsmind - Nov 8, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    That’s bullsh!t. You said a new stadium would bring a bigger payroll. For 2 tracking years?!? After raising prices last year to watch a Jap who can’t hit, run, or throw? Players like Tosoni and Butera? The least you can do is raise another 10 million. Your family is the richest family in baseball. Stop sitting on your profits from 9 dollar Budwater and spend it on making our team better. Twins have and always will be a cheap worthless a$$ team. Screw you all.

    • JBerardi - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      Way to help the cause, buddy.

  9. dickclydesdale - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    The pirates of the american league. Losers!

    • wonkypenguin - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      This has to win for worst comparison of the day, right?

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