So says ESPN's Jayson Stark. He writes:
Two years ago, the Dodgers' payroll was almost $119 million when the season started, and at about $122 million when it ended -- a number that doesn't even include all the salaries (Manny Ramirez's, most prominently) that were being paid by other teams.
By last year, the Dodgers' opening-day payroll had dropped to just more than $100 million, according to ESPN.com's calculations.
But this year, it looks as if the payroll is going to be somewhere in the 80s -- a plummet of approximately $40 million from just two years ago. And clubs and agents that have dealt with the Dodgers this winter keep coming away reporting: "They have no money."
Well, they led the major leagues in attendance last season. So you can't blame those folks for asking: "Where'd that money go, anyway?" Excellent question.
Well, barring a further salary purge, the Dodgers will open 2010 with a payroll in the $90 millions according to Jon Weisman's math. That's not important, though. What matters is that the club is pretty much broke. Not in a can't-pay-its-bills sense, I don't think. But certainly in a can't-operate-as-a-contending-team sort of way.
I don't mean the 2010 Dodgers don't have a chance. You know I'm very hopeful about the upcoming season. But I do worry that in the case of injury or unexpected poor performance, the Dodgers might not have any flexibility to patch a hole in the ship mid-voyage.
It's going to be a tumultuous spring at Chavez Ravine. For the life of me, I can't find or remember the source, but I believe a baseball season must be 46 games old before what has happened in that particular season matters more than what happened in the past. Game 46 for the Dodgers is May 26 at Wrigley Field. Coincidentally, I'll be at the next day's game.
Also coincidentally, the divorce litigation will have recently concluded its third day. By the time Commissioner Gordon determines the long-term future of the franchise, we'll have a very good idea about the rosiness (or not) of the team's short-term outlook.
Baseball's quite the hurry-up-and-wait game, isn't it? Unless the parties unexpectedly settle, it's going to be until the kids are out of school before we know who's going to own the team. And unless a key player is unexpectedly injured, it'll be at least that long until we know what we've got with the 2010 Dodgers.
Also, if you're dying to know how I feel about the Royals' Rick Ankiel signing, you can check that out here.