Good morning, Viva El Birdos! Greetings from COVID-ville, home of sore throats, congestion, fever dreams, and plenty of “I don’t wanna and ya can’t make me” laziness. I’m on the mend now but still not cleared for full baseball (writing) activities. You all demand mental acuity and all I could provide right now is mental ... uh... see I couldn’t even come up with anything funny. How depressing.
That means you get an open thread this morning. But you also get one with a little meat to chew on. A suggested topic, if you will, for your long day of waiting for a west coast game.
Anyway, Albert Pujols is on his way toward 700. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are setting a record every time they pitch/catch. The Cardinals are coasting to an easy division win. The stadiums are full of fans paying bonus bucks to see their favorite big leaguers play ball.
The Cardinals are set to sell out every remaining home game of the season. They are already at 3.18 million fans drawn on the season. With three home games left, they are going to pass 3.3M in attendance this season.
That’s a significant number considering the state of baseball over the last few seasons. In 2020, attendance was 0 fans because of COVID. The club was halfway into the 2021 season before all seats became available for sale, and the stadium did not start seeing large crowds until the end of the year.
The lockout tempered season ticket and single-game sales for the early part of the season but it didn’t take long for Cardinals fans to return to their favorite summer activity. Some history and legacy-chasing moments have only helped, and the Cards are back on their normal attendance-drawing pace.
3.3 million is short from their peak seasons of 3.4-3.5 but it’s close enough to call this year an unqualified attendance success. And that means the DeWitts are raking in DeDollars this season.
Good for them. Because no matter what we want to say about the Cardinals' spending habits there is no doubt that they lost substantial revenue in 2020 and they have been trying to recover it ever since. They cut payroll significantly for the 2021 season, if you properly account for Nolan Arenado’s extremely complex contract. Spending increased heading into 2022 — Opening Day Payroll was about $151M this year — but it was $15-20M below the pace the Cardinals were on before the pandemic.
Fans are back. Profits are back. The team is competitive. The farm system is producing. They are the clear class of the division with the Brewers taking a step back and staring at a budget problem. Could 2023 be the season where we see payroll climb back up to where it was pre-pandemic?
Or with a farm system overflowing with quality prospects alrighty fighting for a handful of positions on the active roster and very little turnover in the rotation (especially if Wainwright returns) or the starting offense, will we see payroll continue to remain low?
I’m setting this up to get opinions I can use in a more in-depth article in a few weeks (or maybe after the season). For now, though, I just want to hear from you. Considering who the Cardinals have, who they have coming, and who they have going, do you expect them to spend up, adding significant talent to make up their payroll gap, or continue as they’ve been — spending to finish out their roster in their normal “Dr. Thunder” (credit to the Ben’s) way?
You let me know! This is an open thread. The floor is yours.
Now excuse me while I go blow my nose. Again.
Happy Wednesday, Viva El Birdos!