Same song, different verse, eh Walt?
MVP-caliber first baseman with bright future? Check. Injury prone third baseman? Check. Potentially talented pitching staff led by innings eater who is signed through the next several seasons? Check. Talented young nucleus mixed with veteran leadership and experienced bullpen help? Check.
Sound familiar? We’re either talking about the current Cincinnati Reds team or the Cardinals under Walt Jocketty. It’s hard to argue that Jocketty doesn’t have a philosophy and a will to stick with it. The question is whether or not the Reds can afford it. A quick glance at their roster and payroll numbers suggests that the Reds are headed to an opening day payroll of around $75-78M which isn’t a substantial increase over where they ended 2010. The real work begins after 2011, because that’s when the Jay Bruce and Joey Votto contracts begin to accelerate. Assuming that they pick up the team option on Brandon Phillips in 2012, consider what they will have committed to just 6 players for that season.
- Scott Rolen – $6.5M
- Bronson Arroyo – $12M
- Jay Bruce – $5M
- Joey Votto – $9M
- Brandon Phillips – $12M
- Aroldis Chapman – $1M
That’s $45.5M for 6 players, and that doesn’t include a $12M team option for Francisco Cordero that I expect the team will politely decline in favor of the $1M buyout. Those same 6 players cost the team just $30.74M in 2010, so imagine how challenging it will be to build a roster around them with approximately the same amount of money (or less) left over in 2012 as in 2010. Keep in mind that the Reds could have 5 players from the 2010 roster who will be arbitration-eligible for the 1st time prior to 2012. Now, please don’t mistake this analysis for criticism of Walt Jocketty. I don’t think he’s been in his position long enough to earn complete grades as of yet, but I do think that some long-time observers may recognize history repeating itself.
Will Walt continue to fall back on the familiar and maintain the same approach to team building, or will he adapt to the current reality and build a sustainable program in Cincinnati? As a Cardinals fan, I’m hoping that he hasn’t lost the phone numbers for Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan, Aaron Miles, David Eckstein, and So Taguchi.
TIDBIT: The Reds already have $36M committed to the 2013 payroll to 3 players (Arroyo, Bruce, and Votto), and that’s the contract year for Votto.
MORE BITS OF TID: The Reds have also just announced a contract extension for Johnny Cueto which keeps him in the fold through 2014 with a team option for 2015.
Like it? Are you hoping that the 4 yr / $27M deal for Cueto blows up all over Jocketty? Follow me on Twitter, and we’ll politely golf clap every walk that Cueto gives up for the next 4 years.