There is no doubt that St. Louis Cardinals ownership and management deserve major credit for their summer acquisitions to strengthen the organization's Major League roster. The additions of Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday, Julio Lugo and now John Smoltz have helped turn the club from a contender to the leader and favorite in the 2009 National League Central Division race.
The organization has also received kudos for their amateur signings this summer, a key area of focus since the farm system provided at least four top-ten prospects traded away to acquire DeRosa and Holliday.
This is the area I will probe further as the positive vibes will surely increase in intensity this week. First-rounder Shelby Miller is scheduled to be paraded in front of the coaches and media at Busch Stadium on Tuesday before reporting to A ball with Quad Cities the next day.
Prior to the August 17 signing deadline for June draftees, the Cardinals closed deals with 43 of their 50 players drafted, an 86% success rate. That was almost identical to their 43-of-51 (84%) rate in 2008 and almost identical to their 2007 take of 87% (45 signed of 52 drafted).
The Cardinals seemed to have gotten the players they wanted, securing signed contracts from their top 15 draftees and 19 of their first 20 selected. The cornerstone of the draft was the last to sign.
Miller, the 19th
overall selection, came to terms on the final day. His take was a record bonus
for a Cardinals draftee at $2.875 million. The big money given the
Overall, the Cardinals spent just
over $4.5 million over the first ten rounds this year, according to Baseball
However since different organizations have different numbers of draft picks due to compensation matters, it may be more informative to also look at the average spent per player over the first ten rounds. The Cardinals' average of just under $451,000 placed them 19th in MLB this summer, right behind the Brewers and just ahead of the Twins and Blue Jays.
In 2008, the Cardinals spent more in the first ten rounds, as they had an extra pick. They committed just under $4.9 million for 11 players. The average per player was within a few thousand of this season at $448,000.
In other words, the club spent almost the same amount per player across the top ten rounds in 2009 as they did in 2008 and fewer absolute dollars this year.
The year before, in 2007, the club
signed ten of their 12 picks in the first ten rounds. That was the year they
notoriously passed on
They most notably missed on
Average spend per player increased from 2006 through 2008 before leveling off in 2009. Total spend over ten rounds hit a spike in 2008 before declining in 2009.
Cardinals spending, amateur draft, first ten rounds, 2006-2009 (source: Baseball America)
avg $ 2009
The biggest-ever amateur signing
of any kind by the organization was the reported $3.1 million bonus bestowed
this July upon
The Mateo contract dwarfed the club's previous largest international deal, the $1.1 million given Mateo's countryman, third baseman Roberto De La Cruz in 2008.
Yet the Mateo signing has been the
only one from
Last summer, the Cardinals spent their money differently. Along with De La Cruz, the Cardinals announced five other big-figure ($100,000 range and up) signings that totaled just under $2.5 million. One contract, that of Santo Franco for a reported $570,000, was later voided over the winter due to background irregularities.
Yet after those six contract amounts were announced last July, the Cardinals were still actively pursuing Venezuelan Yorman Rodriguez right up until he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in mid-August for a reported $2.5 million.
Therefore, it is clear the Cardinals were willing to commit well over $4 million to international amateur bonuses in 2008 (though they apparently spent less than $2 million when all was said and done). In 2009, they have spent $3.1 million to date.
It seems the Cardinals have at
best held the line for amateur bonuses across the
That is not an indictment of the Cardinals organization in any way. As noted above, they have directed considerable financial resources at the Major League level while still maintaining middle-of-the-pack spending levels on amateurs.
That is how it should be properly represented however, with "maintained" instead of "dramatically increased" being the operative descriptor for their 2009 amateur financial commitments.
Update: I have been informed the Cardinals manage their budgets on a fiscal year that runs from November through October. As a result, "later" signings from last winter such as Jose Pena are applied against the current budget, not last year's. This means the exact timing of signings are important in trying to make year-to-year comparisons.
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