Earn What You Get: Why I'm Glad (Insert Giants Pitcher) Is Getting Paid
The San Francisco Giants pitching staff is widely regarded as one of the best in baseball. At the same time, the San Francisco Giants pitching staff is not the highest-paid pitching staffs in baseball. For now.
Take a look at these numbers from 2011 (numbers c/o Cot's Baseball Contracts):
Halladay ($20 million) + Lee ($11 million) + Hamels ($9.5 million) + Oswalt ($16 million) + Blanton ($8.5 million) + Kendrick ($2.45 million) = ~$58 million
Beckett ($15.75 million) + Lackey ($15.25 million) + Matsuzaka ($10 million) + Lester ($5.75 million) + Buchholz ($0.555 million) + Wakefield ($2 million) = ~$50 million
Sabathia ($23 million) + Burnett ($16.5 million) + Hughes ($2.7 million) + Garcia ($1.5 million) + Nova ($0.433 million) + Colon ($0.9 million) = ~ $45.1 million
4) San Francisco Giants
Lincecum ($13 million) + Cain ($7 million) + Bumgarner ($0.45 million) + Vogelsong ($0) + Zito ($18.5 million) + Sanchez ($4.8 million) = ~ $45 million
That Was Then...What About Now?
So...last year, the Giants had one of, if not the best, starting staff in the league. And they didn't pay out the nose for it, compared to the rest of the league. Granted, it HELPS that you had five of your main six come out of your own farm system, which will save money. But also, one of those starters is Barry Zito, who is getting paid $20 million a year to do nothing.
And another is Tim Lincecum, who for the second year in a row, has filed a record number for arbitration and settled for a contract worth about as much as he asked for.
Does it matter that in 2012 the Giants will be paying for having such a good staff? I'd say no. And even so, will they really be paying that much?
Here's the 2012 numbers, based on what we can guess the rotations are going to be.
1) Philadelphia Phillies
Halladay ($20 million)
+ Lee ($21.5 million)
+ Hamels ($15 million)
+ Blanton ($8.5 million)
+ Kendrick ($3.585 million)
+ Willis ($0.85 million)
= $69.435 million
These guys are ridiculously good. Blanton is not.
But $41.5 million for Halladay and Lee?
Yeah. That's OK with me.
2) New York Yankees
Sabathia ($23 million)
+ Burnett ($16.5 million)
+ Kuroda ($10 million)
+ Garcia ($4 million)
+ Hughes ($3.2 million)
= $56.7 million
The Yankees have always paid a lot for everything. Always. So is this really surprising? Not really.
3) San Francisco Giants
Lincecum ($18 million)
+ Cain ($15 million)
+ Bumgarner ($0.45 million)
+ Vogelsong ($3 million)
+ Zito ($19 million)
= $55.45 million
4) Miami Marlins
Zambrano ($18 million)
+ Johnson ($13.75 million)
+ Nolasco ($9 million)
+ Sanchez ($8 million)
+ Buehrle ($6 million)
= $54.75 million
What? Who? The MARLINS? Their entire 2011 payroll was $57.695 million!
Note: The Marlins will pay $2.55 million of Zambrano's salary.
5) Boston Red Sox
Beckett ($15.75 million)
+ Lackey ($15.25 million)
+ Matsuzaka ($10 million)
+ Lester ($7.625 million)
+ Buchholz ($3.5 million)
+ Miller ($1.04 million)
= $53.165 million
Half of that goes to pay for the wings and beer. I'm assuming the other half goes to pay for personal trainers.
OK, so the Giants moved up when it comes to paying the guys on the mound. But for the quality of arms that the San Francisco farm system and front office has been able to put together, can we as fans complain?
Is this not an elite pitching staff that deserves to be in the top three? And if you take out Zito's contract ($19 million), EVEN if you also subtract Burnett from the Yankees ($16.5 million), Blanton from the Phillies ($8.5 million) and Matsuzaka from the Red Sox ($10 million), the Giants are even farther down that line.
Other teams aren't that far behind the Giants in spending on their rotation but lag far behind in the quality of arm and what they mean to the team as a whole. Look at what those other teams spend on the rest of their players and you'll see some disparity there as well.
The Yankees, with their hitters, will pay their starting staff a little more than 25 percent of total payroll. The Phillies will be closer to 35-40 percent, with the contracts to Papelbon, Utley and Howard in there as well.
The Marlins are a different story, but they almost doubled their payroll, which is projected at about $110 million right now, so their staff is right around 50 percent. And the Red Sox, with their projected payroll at $190 million, are paying about 25 percent, just like the Yanks. The Giants' pitching is their lifeblood. The Giants will spend about 43 percent of their $130 million payroll on those five pitchers in 2012.
What About All That Money?
When it comes to using that rainy day fund to load up on pitching, I'm inclined to agree with those who picked pitching over hitting. The Giants did that. Good hitting will help, but look at the Rangers in the past. Look at the Blue Jays. Look at the Brewers.
Teams with great offenses get far, but as we saw in the 2010 World Series, good pitching will win out over good hitting every time.
Sure, there are going to be situations where we look at the lineup this year and think, "This is what $130 million gets you?"
But then Matt Cain throws 225 innings with a 2.80 ERA, Tim Lincecum wins 20 games for the first time in his career, Madison Bumgarner wins the Retroactive Rookie of the Year Award, Ryan Vogelsong wins Comeback Player of the Year: The Sequel and Barry Zito donates 75 percent of his salary to Colbert SuperPAC.
We'll all look back and think about how grateful we are that our ticket stubs helped keep these guys around.