Whats so big about $100 million?
Question: What does a $100 million dollar payroll mean?
Answer: A payroll that is $1 above a $99,999,999 payroll.
I've seen a fair amount written about whether or not the Cubs will allow their payroll to exceed the $100 million level. I want to challenge the question, not necessarily answer the question. However, to do so, I'll ask a few more questions.
Do you actually expect baseball salaries to stop rising? Will all 750 major league players wake up tomorrow morning, or the next day and say: "I want less money?" Most likely the answer to these questions is no.
So, if player salaries aren't going anywhere but up, and the Cubs are already at $90 million, they'll either have to turn into the Devil Rays, or they'll eventually pass the $100 million mark. The issue then isn't if, but when. When will the Cubs break this magic barrier? Unless the team decides that competing to win is too costly, it will be soon. This year, next year, maybe even the year after that, but it will happen.
The reason the $100 million mark is important is the same reason the Dow 10,000 was a big issue. Its purely psychological, and thus it takes something extraordinary to do the trick.
I would argue, and I'm betting Jim Hendry is arguing, that extraordinary something is named Carlos Beltran. Its simply a question of whether the club perceives Beltran as worthy of putting them over the top.
You don't break a barrier like this by signing Neifi Perez to a $1 million, 1 year contract. No, you smash through barriers.
Dropping $15 million on the best free agent on the market makes a statement. It tells your fans that you are willing to push the budgetary boundaries to win. On a business level, it forces the team to work harder to remain profitable. In the mean time, it increases the value of the underlying asset, strengthening the company from the inside out.
The Yankees didn't get to the point where they can afford a $200 million payroll by luck. They have consistently pushed their organization to find new ways of financing a top-tier, high payroll ballclub.
I believe the Cubs are seizing an opportunity to do the same. This organization has decided that its going to play with the big boys, and is backing it up with action. We've seen the revenue grabs, now its time to see the players.