The Braves have been frugal – well except for Derek Lowe – in recent years but the SABR President says they should rethink that strategy.
Last night on the MLB Network’s Clubhouse Confidential SABR President and author of Diamond Dollars Vince Gennarro listed six teams who he said have the “biggest financial incentive to spend in 2012.” He based his selection on a series of factors including the number of empty seats, the price of tickets, negotiation of new TV contracts, were they are moving to a new ballpark, market size and competitiveness (how close to winning is the team already) then factored in how much payroll was coming off the books.
He explained that the Los Angeles Angels were:
- Close to winning the division in 2011,
- Negotiating a new TV contract and
- Are in an area containing the largest Hispanic market in the country.
The signing of Albert Pujols significantly enhanced the Angels brand because not only is he the best player in the country but as a Latino Superstar coming to an area where 20% of the population in Latino he increases the value of the TV contract and fan interest in the team the all of which generate a huge return on investment. In addition to the Angels who topped the list other teams who netted out as most likely to see a huge financial return on wisely spent larger investment were in reverse order:
- The Yankees based mostly on market size,
- The Miami Marlins who have a new stadium,
- The Rangers as back to back AL Champs trying to get back to and win the World Series
- The Toronto Blue Jays who’ve always had a good fan base and are seen as a team on the rise in the AL East and in second place behind the Angels. . .
- The Atlanta Braves
Mr. Gennarro didn’t elaborate on benefits for teams other than the Angels but looking at the factors he considered it’s easy to understand why the Braves made the list.
- Arbitron lists Atlanta as the 6th largest media market in the country
- Turner Field is rarely sold out these days but in big games we’ve seen big crowds. Last year the Braves drew 2,372,940 fans. That’s an average of 30,037 a game or about 60% of capacity.
- Braves ticket prices in 2010 were 20th among major league teams about $7 the below MLB average
- As witnessed by how close we came, the Braves were a player or two away from the post season last year.
Braves ownership then should have invested significant money in order to make significant money this year. I’m not sure Liberty Media (or whoever sets the payroll for the Braves) understands this though John Schuerholz and Frank Wren have said many times they have experienced no payroll restrictions from Liberty.
Rehashing what could have been is useless as is expecting a bargain shopper like Frank Wren to start shopping alongside the Phillies or this year’s Marlins. It would be nice however, if Liberty Media – or any future owner – took this into consideration when planning payroll for the coming years.