Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Most Expensive Bullpens on Opening Day 2008

Okay, so this post is a week late, two days late, one day late, or (thanks to weather) right on time, depending on your favorite team's schedule. One of the most important parts of a team's composition is the bullpen. The average starter in the major leagues last season lasted about 5 2/3 innings per game, leaving 3 1/3 innings for his team's pen. Those ten outs per game (sometimes seven, occasionally more) can spell success or failure for a team's season. Some teams prefer to look for cheap arms to fling against the wall to see who sticks while others prefer to splurge on the free agent market to acquire arms to staff the pen.

What I want to do here is find the bullpens that are drawing the highest combined salary for this season. I've used the depth charts on mlb.com in combination with the active rosters on mlb.com to figure out each team's bullpen as best I can. Further, I've checked injury reports to include players that, if healthy, would be in their team's bullpen (B.J. Ryan, Mike Timlin, etc.).

For salaries, I used the excellent Cot's Baseball Contracts and assumed players without salary data (usually rookies or other young players) are making $400,000 this year. I know the major league minimum is actually $390k this season, but most teams kick in bonuses to their players, so $400k seems fair as a ballpark estimate.

2008 Opening Day Bullpens by Total Salary (in millions of dollars)
  1. Milwaukee Brewers, 26.850
  2. New York Yankees, 26.175
  3. Los Angeles Angels, 22.100
  4. New York Mets, 20.775
  5. Philadelphia Phillies, 17.950
  6. Chicago Cubs, 17.560
  7. Minnesota Twins, 17.525
  8. St. Louis Cardinals, 17.350
  9. Cincinnati Reds, 16.375
  10. Colorado Rockies, 15.774
  11. Toronto Blue Jays, 15.615
  12. Tampa Bay Rays, 13.858
  13. Chicago White Sox, 13.175
  14. Washington Nationals, 12.450
  15. Detroit Tigers, 11.875
  16. Houston Astros, 11.025
  17. San Diego Padres, 10.970
  18. Boston Red Sox, 10.936
  19. Baltimore Orioles, 10.660
  20. Cleveland Indians, 10.650
  21. Oakland Athletics, 10.100
  22. Kansas City Royals, 9.041
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks, 7.975
  24. Texas Rangers, 7.592
  25. Los Angeles Dodgers, 6.240
  26. Atlanta Braves, 6.000
  27. Pittsburgh Pirates, 5.535
  28. Seattle Mariners, 5.400
  29. Florida Marlins, 5.228
  30. San Francisco Giants, 5.188
Here are the members of the most expensive and least expensive bullpens:

Milwaukee: Eric Gagne ($10M), David Riske ($4M), Derrick Turnbow ($3.2M), Salomon Torres ($3.2M), Guillermo Mota ($3.2M), Brian Shouse ($2.0M), Seth McClung ($0.75M), Randy Choate (Disabled List - $0.5M)

San Francisco: Brad Hennessey ($1.6M), Vinnie Chulk (Disabled List - $0.8375M), Tyler Walker ($0.750M), Brian Wilson ($0.4M), Jack Taschner ($0.4M), Erick Threets ($0.4M), Merkin Valdez ($0.4M), Keiichi Yabu ($0.4M)

It's interesting that the Brewers' bullpen costs almost as much as the bottom six teams on the list combined. I was also surprised how highly Tampa Bay is on the list; I know they don't have the lowest payroll in the league anymore, but I didn't expect to see their bullpen in the upper half.


Harry Pavlidis said...

The Brewers? I never would've guessed it.

TheJay said...

Yeah, that's what happens when you decide to pay $10 million for a guy who digs the unkempt look and decide $3.2 million is the magic salary for middle relievers.