The Atlanta Braves have never been very forthcoming about how much their payroll actually adds up to. Most of what reporters tend to get are shrugs and grunts when they ask Braves' executives about possible shortfalls or extra cash they may potentially have laying around. Mark Bowman tries to get to the bottom of how much more money the Braves may or may not have left to spend:
Like many of you, I had been putting these salaries in a data base and essentially finding a payroll that added up to something in the neighborhood of $85-87 million. During the 2009 season, the Braves spent closer to $95 million.
When Schuerholz responded, "(The payroll) won't be diminished at all", I basically knew I'd be spending a portion of the evening trying to dissect his words to determine how he was expressing a falsehood in a truthful manner. [...]
While the Braves spent approximately $95 million last year, a portion of this total was utilized via insurance funds provided courtesy of the fact that Tim Hudson missed the first five months of the season.
When you subtract these unspecified funds, it's easier to see why the Braves say their payroll will once again rest around $90 million.
"It's just the way we do the accounting, you see." This smacks of the way they averaged Mike Hampton's salary out over his tenure in Atlanta, so much so that (1) we didn't know they had averaged out over the years until his second to last year in Atlanta and (2) we have no idea how they ultimately budgeted that money. It seems to me that the Braves' executives are just finding creative ways to cover up the fact that their corporate owner is tightening the purse strings year after year.
That said, there is something to be said for keeping a little money in the bank to address mid-season needs should you need to. Of course, around that time I'm sure we'll get some cryptic answer from the team about how much they have to spend.