Because the math this year is damning for the Twins. The math says that this year, the year after the Twins gained a ballpark on the public's dime, they're going to cut payroll. The only question is, how much?
Here's the numbers, with reasonable estimates of those players who will be entering arbitration:
Major league baseball's revenues have increased around 9% in the last year, and the Twins spent a little over $70 million last year. Which means that the Twins could have been expected to increase their payroll to around $80 million - if they were a team that wasn't due a huge boost in revenue.
But of course, that's exactly what they are due. On top of the increases that every other team is expecting, the Twins can expect a $30 million boost, by their own estimates, fueled by the new ballpark. So you tell me what a reasonable payroll level would be? $85 million? $90 million?
But like a gloriously bad infomercial, just wait, there's more. Because the estimate above contains Johan Santana's salary, and most Twins fans would conclude that the likelihood of him being on the payroll on Opening Day is slim. Which means the payroll would be closer to $53 million.
That's about $30 million less than it should be. That's more than A-Rod will make this year. And it's $18 million less than it was last year. Which is more than Torii Hunter will be making in Anaheim.
Think they'll just put that money towards some long-term deal? Wrong. That's not the way business works. It's not like it's going to go into some trust account to be used in case of an emergency. That money is for THIS year. And even if it rolls over to next year, it certainly isn't rolling over to 2010, which is when the real budget crunch hits. And it certainly isn't going to extend the number of years offered to Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. That money needs to be there in 2011 and 2012.
This may not be the result of outright greed - personally I think it's more the result of the risk adverse nature of the organization - but it's certainly going to be perceived as such. And, frankly, as one of the bigger defenders of the frugal nature of some of their signings, they deserve any and all criticism they get, regardless of the cause. Maybe they were painfully conservative, afraid to offer big money to a free agent until they had moved Santana. Or maybe they were just unsuccessful in wooing a free agent that we don't know about. Either way, it doesn't reinforce a sense of confidence in managment. Or competence of management.
Or maybe the popular perception is right, and their owner is a greedy sucking pig. Certainly, the math seems to suggest as much. Hopefully the participants of the caravan (and Twins Fest) may soon find out that arithmatic is still alive and strong in Minnesota's eduational system.