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Dodgers' 2011 payroll reaches $94.5 million; now Frank McCourt just has to pay it

January 21, 2011 |  3:07 pm

Now maybe you think I just unmercifully hammer Frank McCourt and never have an encouraging thing to say about him. You are so wrong, my little naysayer.

Here’s something positive: He spent money this off-season!

I get that this goes against reams of stories detailing he’s out of money and has gone begging for loans all over town and had to get some advanced spending money from Fox apparently just to cover organizational payroll.

Yet here are two hard facts: 1) He spent approximately $80 million on free agents this winter, and; 2) The team payroll will be at least $15 million higher than last season.

For the actual product on the field, I estimate the team payroll will be $94.5 million to start the season. Add in his ever-popular deferred payments, and the total payroll shoots up to $110.8 million.

Which pretty much ends today’s positive spin.

Because the bad news is he spent that money just to be competitive, not to bring in major pieces to win a championship. All just to stay above water competitively. To try and remain in the mix.

And the worse news is it appears to be a short-sighted solution. Maybe the guy should run for Congress.

Those deferred payments are going to come due, maybe about the time he’s trying to figure out how to pay off the wife. And then what? A major hit on the payroll? A belated awakening that he has to sell? Commissioner Bud Selig looking the other way when Fox tries to come to his rescue?

Here is a look at the 2011 Dodgers payroll:

Rafael Furcal           $12 million
Andre Ethier            $9.25 million
Hiroki Kuroda          $8 million
Ted Lilly                  $7.5 million
Matt Kemp               $7.05 million
Jonathan Broxton     $7 million
Chad Billingsley        $6.27 million
Casey Blake             $5.25 million
Juan Uribe               $5 million
James Loney            $5 million*
Jon Garland             $3.5 million
Rod Barajas             $3.25 million
Vicente Padilla         $3 million
Hong-Chih Kuo         $2.9 million*
Jamey Carroll           $2.5 million
Matt Guerrier           $1.5 million
Dioner Navarro         $1 million
Marcus Thames         $1 million
Tony Gwynn Jr.       $675,000
Jay Gibbons            $650,000
Clayton Kershaw      $500,000*
Ronald Belisario       $425,000*
Kenley Jensen          $420,000*
Blake Hawksworth    $420,000*
25th Dude:               $420,000*

Total:                       $94,485,000

Deferred salary
Manny Ramirez         $7.67 million
Juan Pierre              $3.5 million
Andruw Jones           $3.37 million
Jason Schmidt          $1.5 million
Brad Ausmus             $150,000
Octavio Dotel          $125,000

Total:                      $110,813,000

That’s a lot of money to spend for essentially the same team that went 80-82 last season. The Dodgers should be competitive, but what happens if they’re not and attendance takes a hit? What if it just takes a hit because people are weary of McCourt and stay away in protest?

There’s a lot of gambling going on here, and McCourt is not eager to relinquish the dice. He’s a businessman who you assume has a plan that he believes in. One he presented to Major League Baseball executives in New York two weeks ago, that apparently fell on deaf ears.

He deferred much of the money used to sign Uribe, Guerrier, Lilly and Kuroda. And Furcal and Kuroda may come off the books after next season, but there will be large payroll increases coming to Ethier, Kemp, Billingsley, Kershaw and Loney.

Like Shakespeare said, at some point you have to give the devil his due. And it could be scary when it comes.

-- Steve Dilbeck