The Ownership Question: Part III

OK, Part I we looked at payroll in relation to the rest of the league. Part II, payroll in relation to market size. Now, let’s compare how the Cardinals are doing against their divisional rivals. Because it’s possible to be in the top 5 in baseball and only the top 3 in your division–ask the teams in the AL East how that spending goes for them.

Let’s take a look at the average payrolls for all the NL Central teams over this 13 year span.

Team Average Payroll
Chicago $66,299,059
Cincinnati $48,007,281
Houston $58,985,789
Milwaukee $38,514,390
Pittsburgh $32,493,298
St. Louis $66,698,830

So, with this ownership, the Cardinals are outspending everyone in their division. While that doesn’t guarantee titles, obviously, it should indicate a competitiveness and a willingness to win.

Chicago, a much bigger market team, is the only team close to the Cardinals in spending, even though Houston laid out a lot for Roger Clemens for a couple of years. Which then brings up the question–is this a consistent thing with the Cardinals, putting out the money, or are the totals skewed by some outlying years?

Let’s go back to comparing the percentage of total payrolls. I divided the payrolls for that year for each team into the total payrolls in baseball. Let’s take a look:

As you can see, the Cardinals have stayed consistently at the top of the division in payroll. When you look at the spending, it really divides into those that are (St. Louis, Chicago, Houston) and those that aren’t (Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh). Cincinnati was the major spender when this ownership took over, but they quickly dropped into the second division.

So we’ve proven that the Cardinals’ ownership spends in relation to the league, in relation to their market, and in relation to their rivals.  Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the years pre-Dewitt for a comparison and wrap it all up.  And don’t forget, Friday is the Cardinal Blogger Awards!

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2 Responses to “The Ownership Question: Part III”

  1. Deaner Says:

    More great stuff!

    Although the Pirates payroll was so low in 1997, you may remember that they had a remarkable season finishing 79-83 (2nd in the NL Central).

    I would have expected that the Cubs spent much more in 2007 than 2006, but I guess not.

    From the looks of things this offseason, Cincinnati may be rising into the first division again.

  2. cardinal70 Says:

    That is a good point about the Pirates. It’s very possible to win with a low payroll if you go about it right. It is hard to consistently contend on a shoestring, though.

    I mean, you could put together a team that could win a lot of games if you were able to get players like Dan Haren, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, etc.–players that have the talent but haven’t hit arbitration or free agency. So you can’t say that there is a perfect correlation between winning and spending.

    Still, either you go into peaks and valleys (like the Twins and As) or you spend money to stay consistent. I like the consistent approach, really.

    As for the Cubs, I think a lot of the contracts they signed in last year’s offseason were backloaded, so their payroll should rise pretty noticably in the next couple of years, if they don’t sell anyone off.


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