Tom Haudricourt has a very good interview with Brewers owner Mark Attanasio in today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, in which he discusses everything from pitching depth to payroll concerns to the future of Prince Fielder. The whole piece is a good read, but Attanasio’s hand-wringing over the payroll was the thing that popped out the most to me.
Two things were clear. For one, the Brewers wouldn’t be able to be competitive this year if it wasn’t for the fact that the team has drawn over 3 million fans in each of the past two seasons. And secondly, the team is at the outer boundaries of what they can realistically spend on payroll. That’s not something a lot of fans want to hear, especially those who are convinced that the team would be able to expand its spending to the mid-to-upper $90 million range in order to keep Fielder.
“I’m a little nervous, but that’s kind of my job,” Attanasio told Haudricourt. He seems to be half-joking, but there has to be a lot of truth in that statement, too. He said his worries were calmed a bit when the team sold its first million tickets so quickly, but after reading his comments, I was left believing that he thinks the team needs to hit the 3 million mark consistently if the payroll is going to stay this high.
Possible payroll cuts aren’t fun to talk about on the eve of pitchers and catchers officially beginning workouts, but it’s the reality of following this team. Yes, the team has a lot of payroll coming off the books after this year, but will they be able to re-allocate all of it if Attanasio is this worried about the current payroll? And will that be enough money to go out and get a significant upgrade or two next winter?