With the off season officially beginning, the various teams in the division have indicated what they estimate their opening 2011 payrolls will be, and knowing this can keep you from worrying that the Dodgers will add Cliff Lee or the Giants Carl Crawford. The downside is that it also shoots down any dreams you might harbor that the Rockies would do likewise.
At the moment, it looks like the Giants will lead the payroll pack for the NL West and cross the $100 million barrier, with the Dodgers second a few million behind, and the Rockies in third a few million behind them. After that, there's a significant $20 million drop to the D-backs and Padres, both of whom will be hard pressed to keep up with the other three teams at those levels of funding. The following is a brief breakdown of each team, with links to the published reports indicating the payroll estimate.
Arizona: $60-65 million - even at the beginning of 2010, the Diamondbacks were reasonably close to the Rockies payroll but two miserable seasons in a row have taken them back to non-contention levels of funding. Despite the low levels of payroll, they have hopes of luring Paul Konerko in free agency.
Colorado: @ $85 million - I'll talk about this more in the off season, but as in 2009, the Rockies are once again in a position where they might need to make the playoffs to sustain the engine or have a significant restructuring of the team next winter. As with the Giants and Dodgers, there are built in salary increases that may make signing outside free agents difficult at best. They are targeting their own free agent Jorge De La Rosa and a bat.
Los Angeles: More than $93 million - despite the large number, the Dodgers have a long shopping list to fill and a lot of money already committed to players that haven't quite lived up to expectations. Recently re-signed Ted Lilly may prove to be the Dodgers most significant off season expenditure, but Ned Colletti is especially looking for another starting pitcher and an impact bat with what he has left.
San Diego: @$60 million? - I can't find if there's been a clear indication of a dollar range, just that Jed Hoyer will increase payroll significantly on last year's bottom level $40 million range. Even with the increase, however, the Padres couldn't afford to keep the contending 2010 team together and are facing the prospect of having to trade stars Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell at some point before the July deadline.
San Francisco: Over $100 million - the defending World Series winners figure to have a financial windfall from their success and appear poised to have the division's largest payroll in 2011. Arbitration raises and significant bumps in salary to free agents Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe (should they re-sign) figure to eat most if not all the payroll increase.
Jim Armstrong breaks down the free agency picture for the Rockies. The short story is that if they can't sign JDLR or Martinez, the picture is one of a trade or two rather than free agency.
Kyle Parker and Clemson rallied to beat Russell Wilson and N.C. State yesterday, although Parker was actually benched earlier in the game for another INT.
Quickly, I want to thank Russ Oates publicly for all of his work on Purple Row over the last few years and for all the work putting up with my various neuroses. I wish him the very best going forward.