"Screwing Tomorrow" 

That chewy little phrase is from the brain of a regular reader, Peter Baum, who commented over on OBM that with the backloaded contracts of Vizquel and Benitez, the Giants were doing well for 2005 but frigging the future, shagging mañana, tupping the time to come. You get the picture.

(Note to Giants' marketing team: perhaps the team slogan should change from "The Place to Be!" to "Back-Loaded by the Bay!")

Seeing what a rotten shambles the Arizona Diamondbacks have become, thanks in part to a lot of deferred salary paid to big stars such as Randy Johnson, any mention of deferred money or backloaded contracts should give long-term fans pause. Unless you're a long-term fan locked into a long-term seat license, in which case it should give you ulcers. Today's World Series winner could be tomorrow's half-eaten Sandwich Cubano on Calle Ocho, ¿entiendes?

But is it really so strange, I mean, bad? Are the Giants mortgaging the pooch?

According to the figures we've heard regarding the Vizquel and Benitez contracts, here's what the Giants have committed for the first few years of the post-Barry Bonds era, i.e., 2007, 2008 and 2009. Keep in mind that the Giants are paying Barry $5 million a year in deferred money through 2011 (according to this site):

2007: $16.6 M ($7.6 for Benitez, $4 for Vizquel, $5 for Bonds)
2008: $7.6 M ($1.6 for Benitez, $1 for Vizquel, $5 for Bonds)
2009: $7.35 M ($1.6 for Benitez, $.75 for Vizquel, $5 for Bonds)

I think it's safe to say the 2008/2009 numbers aren't a big deal, especially if revenues rise and payroll rises.

The 2007 figure could be more of a problem, but let's assume by then the Giants payroll will rise 10%, putting it around $90 million. (Is this assuming too much?) That would mean about one-sixth is tied up in three players: one retired to Beverly Hills, one over 40 and way past his prime, and one...who knows? Benitez might still be throwing smoke at the age of 35, or, like Nen, he might be on the shelf.

With Sabean's penchant for trading young talent for proven veterans, it's impossible to know who else will be around in 2007. But let's run through one possible scenario:

In 2007, Jerome Williams, Noah Lowry and one or two other youngsters (Cain? Valdez? Foppert? Hennessey?) will be in the starting rotation and earning relatively low wages. Aardsma will be in the bullpen, learning how to close, along with another low-wage homegrown kid (Foppert? Valdez? Correia?) and a cheap veteran long man/emergency starter. Let's estimate four starters and three bullpenners will be earning $10 million. (That's assuming Jerome Williams continues to improve and gets a few million in arbitration that year.) Let's also say, just for fun, that Jason Schmidt continues his dominant run, the Giants extend his contract, and he earns $10 million in '07.

Now we're up to $36.6 M for five starters, four relievers, and a 40-yr-old shortstop who may or may not be starting. (Or healthy.) So we have $55 M for 15 more players. If the Giants sign another superstar to anchor the team and sell tickets in the post-Barry era, there goes another $10 million.

$40-45 M for 14 players. That's a little tight, unless they find several Dustan Mohr/Yorvit Torrealba types -- i.e., cheap, solid performers -- to fill the bench and a couple starting spots. But more likely in this scenario, either the Giants' payroll goes higher than $90 M or they don't splurge on a post-Barry superstar. I'll guess the latter.

Thoughts? Is this scenario totally unrealistic? Are the Giants screwed in '07 and beyond?


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