There has been alot of debate about whether Walt should spend more money on payroll next year and possibly have a winning record or use that money to invest in the farm which will payoff in 5 years or so.
First let's lay out some facts.
1. Payroll is not an allowance from Uncle Walt. This is a business. Payroll is a function of revenue. Revenue is a function profit. Winning seasons increase ticket sales and advertising revenue, therefore increasing profit.
2. The current 25 man roster is the best team the Reds have had going into spring training in a very very long time. At least the last 7 years. This is mainly due to a impressive pitching staff. Improvements in pitching >>>> loss of Dunn's power.
3. Everyone knows that without any setbacks in the development of our young talent we project better in 2010 than in 2009. Therefore money spent should not handcuff 2010 payroll. This team should be very good in 2010, 2011, 2012 and beyond, we need to plan payroll accordingly.
Here are some things we should think about.
1. A short term 7-10 million investment that would possibly make this team have a winning record could increase the 2010 payroll due to increases in revenue. This will not happen if this 7-10 million is invested in the farm.
2. The main argument against playing for a winning record is the classic "Moneyball" argument stating if you believe that you are not going to make the playoffs, then you should lose with the lowest payroll possible while investing the difference in the farm. I agree with this to a point. If a team has a high payroll with several bad contracts and players of value, and loses.... then they should purge payroll and invest efforts to acquiring young talent. BUT if a team has relatively few bad contracts and has a solid core of young super-talent, then you should make an effort to WIN. Look at what Beane did this year with acquiring Holliday and Giambi. He took a team with good pitching and bad offense and turned it into a solid team in order have a winner next year. Holliday and Giambi are his short-term investments in a winning record, because I doubt he thinks he can beat the Angels.
3. The Reds payroll is getting very financially fit and will look even better next year with Ramon, A Gonz, and Weathers coming off the books after this season. Short term commitments do not effect this. Also 10 million is not going to bankrupt the franchise. Bob is making money off the Reds, even when we lose.
4. We have a glut of young talent in the high minors. There is no reason to go into spring training with all of Maloney, Masset, Bailey, Owings, and Ramirez. EE, Frazier, and Francisco cannot all play 3B in Cincy. Do we really need Hairston, Keppinger, Rosales, Castillo, and Richar? If we are trading for an outfielder, why do we need Dickerson when we have Stubbs on the brink?
So what should we do?
I think we need to acquire one of Nady, Dye, or Swisher via trade. I would prefer not to trade Bailey or Owings. I think we could build a package around Roenicke or Frazier and a couple prospects. Will we win the division with one of those 3 guys? Probably not, but I bet we'd have a winning record.