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Wednesday Rockpile: Evaluating End Of Year Payroll Data

Because there's really not much going on with the Rockies (and let's be honest, there won't be much going on for several weeks), this Rockpile will consist of some general baseball links with analysis on how they relate to the Rockies where appropriate. That isn't to say that you should just abandon Purple Row until pitchers and catchers report in February. We'll have plenty of great content up in the next few weeks. When I get more time in the coming weeks I'll be cranking out the rest of the 2010 Audit series, plus there will be more Player Reviews (including one later today) and plenty more baseball analysis along the way.

The payroll geek in me couldn't resist a few observations about the wonderful Maury Brown's list of end of year MLB payrolls. Brown describes why end of year payrolls are such useful data:

The final salaries in MLB show totals that include the 40 man roster, and shows how clubs ramp up, or shed payroll as the season progresses. ... When coupled with one or more years in the data set, it’s a good trending tool to see how clubs might be making a push for the playoffs when their development window is seen as open, or the shedding of payroll when clubs are reloading.

In all, a little over $2.9 billion was spent on player salaries in 2010, about 43% of the estimated MLB revenue figure of $7 billion. Overall, this is down 0.88% (about $26 million) from 2009. In any case, Brown's chart shows that the Rockies spent $87,974,390 in 2010 on player salaries -- that's about $3.75 million more than Colorado's ODP, which was $84,227,000. This stands to reason, as the Rockies were in contention for the playoffs until very late in the season and purchased such help for their run.

This number is significant in that it shows that Colorado's 2011 ODP target of around $86-87 million (again, this shows the Rockies' confidence in their team) will be pretty much the same as the EOY spending in 2010. This falls in line with the trend exhibited by the front office when comparing 2009 EOY spending ($84,450,797) to their 2010 ODP ($84,227,000). This is the sign of a team with playoff aspirations, one that believes a playoff run is worth spending a little extra for.

Looking at the NL West: the Rockies' EOY spending increased 4.17% from 2009 to 2010, the Dodgers cut 16.54% of their payroll (from $131.75 to $109.7 million), the Giants increased 6.53% (from $95.2 to $101.3 million), the D-Backs reduced their payroll by 4.43% (from $73.8 to $70.5 million), and the Padres held pretty steady while contending, raising payroll only 1.03% (from $43.21 to $43.65 million).

I encourage you to look over the chart in the link and see what teams jump out at you.

A few more links after the jump...


Very interesting to me was this analysis of 2010 NL offenses, which only looked at OBP and strand rate. According to that analysis, the Rockies had the second best offense in the NL last year with a .336 OBP and 55% strand rate. Of course, this can be grossly misleading without adjusting for Coors Field. Per wRC+, Colorado's offense was slightly below average -- they posted a 99 wRC+ in 2010, 1% below average (and 6th in the NL). So no, the Rockies weren't awful on offense, but they were hardly the world beaters that the linked article shows them to be. I am optimistic about their prospects going forward, but to characterize Colorado's 2010 offense as a juggernaut is pretty inaccurate.

Mike Axisa of Rotographs writes about the Rockies' backup closer for 2011. Of the three names he mentions (Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, and the recently acquired Matt Lindstrom), I see both Betancourt and Belisle regressing from their 2010 levels simply because they were really really good in 2010 and because there are serious red flags for both (age for Betancourt, workload for Belisle). That leaves Lindstrom, a guy who was very effective last year in a closer's role until he got hurt. I for one am perfectly fine having Lindstrom come on in late inning situations (and he'll be the guy), though I think (and have thought for some time) that someone like Esmil Rogers could make a decent closer in a pinch.

As you might have read, LA Dodgers middle infielder Chin-Lung Hu was traded to the Mets for a minor league pitcher. Okay, so Hu is a replacement level player being traded for a minor league journeyman. But then again, there are the puns. And now let's never do that again.

Want to get into baseball? Try starting by purchasing a minor league franchise.

Finally, because every Rockies fan wants to relive this memory, MLB Network will be featuring the 2007 National League West tiebreaker between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres in a new episode of MLB Network Countdown: Games of the Decade, 2000-2009 tonight at 7:00 p.m. MT.