The Phillies could have a record payroll of more than $106 million come Opening Day.
People figure out Opening Day payrolls differently, but here's how we did it: We projected a 25-man roster, and also included four other players (Jim Thome, Wes Helms, Kris Benson and Chris Snelling) who figure into their budget in some way, shape or form.
So, obviously, this projected number can change before March 31, when the Phillies open their season at Citizens Bank Park against the Nationals.
The Phillies will play $6 million of Thome's contract with the Chicago White Sox this season. (They pay him $3 million next year, too.) The Phillies so far are on the hook for just $100,000 with Benson. But if Benson eventually makes the 25-man roster as expected, his salary jumps to $500,000 for $600,000 total. He then can make up to $5.1 million based on incentives. Helms is owed $2.15 million in salary, plus a $750,000 buyout for his 2009 club option, to bring his figure to $2.9 million. Snelling is just $450,000, but he also figures into the equation. Both Helms and Snelling seem caught in a numbers game, but could be competing for a bench job if the Phillies decide to carry 11 pitchers.
Here are the salaries for everybody other than Thome and Benson: Pat Burrell ($14 million), Ryan Howard ($10 million), Brett Myers ($8.5 million), Chase Utley ($8.5 million, which includes a $1 million signing bonus), Adam Eaton ($8.125 million, which includes a $750,000 signing bonus), Jimmy Rollins ($8 million, which includes a $1 million signing bonus), Tom Gordon ($6.5 million, which includes a $1 million buyout for a 2009 club option), Brad Lidge ($6.35 million), Jamie Moyer ($5.5 million), Geoff Jenkins ($5 million), J.C. Romero ($3.75 million, which includes a $750,000 signing bonus), Pedro Feliz ($3 million), Wes Helms ($2.9 million, which includes a $750,000 buyout for a 2009 club option), Jasyon Werth ($1.7 million), Ryan Madson ($1.4 million), So Taguchi ($1.05 million, which includes a $125,000 buyout for a 2009 club option), Chad Durbin ($900,000), Eric Bruntlett ($600,000), Cole Hamels (a projected $500,000), Shane Victorino (a projected $490,000), Kyle Kendrick ($445,000), Chris Snelling ($450,000), Greg Dobbs ($440,000), Carlos Ruiz ($425,000), Clay Condrey ($420,000), Chris Coste ($415,000) and J.D. Durbin ($402,500).
Moyer gets an extra $500,000 when he reaches 165, 175 and 185 innings pitched. He threw 199 innings last season, so it's not a stretch to think the Phillies will be paying him $7 million. Other players have incentives and bonuses in their contracts, too.
Tack on Benson's incentives and it's easy to see how the Phillies' payroll could surpass $110 million.
I've heard about how cheap the Phillies are ever since I got on the beat. But that argument has become a bit of a cliche. I always say this to people, "If you want to rip the Phillies about money, don't rip them for not spending enough. If you can't win spending $90 million or more, you have bigger issues. You have front office issues. (The Diamondbacks, Rockies and Indians had some of the lowest payrolls in baseball last season, but they made their league championship series.) If you want to criticize the Phillies, criticize them about how they spend their money. Because they're spending enough money to give them a chance to win a World Series."
For example, Eaton is the fifth-highest paid player on the team.
That's not money well spent.
Top prospect Carlos Carrasco impressed Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee yesterday, but he's been pitching with plenty on his mind other than baseball. Just before he left for spring training, two men robbed his family's home in Venezuela -- with one of the men putting a gun to his sister's head.
The Phillies opened their Grapefruit League scheduled yesterday with an 8-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Jim Salisbury writes the scene.
Rule 5 Draft pick Travis Blackley is trying to make the team, either as a starter or a reliever. He threw three scoreless innings yesterday, so he's off to a good start.