The Ownership Question: Part I

First off, hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The break was great and hopefully it got Cardinal management recharged and ready to make some moves.

On one of my brief trips online this weekend, I found someone again making the tired “ownership is cheap and doesn’t care” argument at CCH. While I outlined my thoughts there, it led me to do some research.

I found a great site that listed out payroll on a yearly basis, so I took the payroll totals of every team from 1995, the year this ownership group took over, to 2007. The general data can be found here, but I’m going to spend a couple of days going through what I learned.

Let’s take the most basic idea first. Where have the Cardinals ranked out of 30 teams (well, 28 before 1998) in total payroll?

Year Rank
1995 16th
1996 9th
1997 10th
1998 6th
1999 15th
2000 11th
2001 9th
2002 13th
2003 8th
2004 9th
2005 6th
2006 11th
2007 11th

So, without taking into account market size, we can see that the Cardinals have been in the top half of baseball every year save 1995 (which had a number of the Brewery contracts on the rolls) and in the top 10 six times. That would seem to indicate a pretty good layout of resources.

That doesn’t really take into account dollars, though. I mean, if half of baseball decides to go bargain-basement, obviously it’s not hard to be in the top half.

So I took the Cardinals payroll and divided it by the total dollars paid out in baseball that year.  If the Cardinals were a perfectly average team, you’d see a 3.33% result (3.57% in those years with only 28 teams).  What did I find?

Only two years (1995 and 1999) were the Cardinals ever under that median mark.  Five different times the Cardinals were over the 4% level in payroll.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how the money compares to our divisional rivals as well as if the money is being spent well.

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