FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. So this leaves Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Tigers, Phillies, Giants and Cardinals.

    Comment by Allan G — March 21, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

  2. the orioles added jason hammel last offseason. not this one.

    Comment by Luis Matos — March 21, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

  3. Wendy –
    I notice here that you say that Blue Jays fans may award their ownership via increased attendance, yet in the last post you said this about the Padres attendance: “it’s certainly not enough to inspire the new owners to spend more”

    What a slap in the face to Padres fans. The team has spent less money than every team in baseball since 2009, has perpetually and habitually lied directly to its fans (on anything from team payroll to uniform consistency to trade compensation to keeping players to ballpark amenities), and its biggest new free agent signing ever is Orlando Hudson’s 11.5 million (which is including his buyout).

    Yet, despite all this BS, (which has included trading our team leader in HR in consecutive seasons with a Headley deal obvious to occur) we’ve managed to STILL attend at over 2 million per season. However, after getting burned by our last two ownership groups, we’re supposed to give this new one — comprised of many of the previous minority owners — the benefit of the doubt and show up to “inspire” them to spend more? WHAT A CROCK!

    In no other industry is there the expectation in which you have to “inspire” the product creator to make its product better by spending on them prior to an improvement in the product. If we all went out and bought 10 tubes of crest toothpaste, Crest wouldn’t think: “Boy am I inspired. Let’s give these toothpaste users a better product.” They’d think: “These suckers are already pleased with the product, clearly. Let’s give ourselves lucrative bonuses, buy back our stock, and offer large dividends to our shareholders.” What makes you think that owners in general AND the Padres new owners in particular wouldn’t behave the same way? We’ve already seen that here in San Diego: the previous a-holes walked away with >$200 million in up-front TV money that was supposed to be the team’s.

    Such a slap in the face.

    Comment by Marver — March 21, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

  4. How close was Washington to the top tier? If they get the TV deal resolved favorably and attendance goes up this year, will that put them in the top tier?

    Comment by cass — March 21, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  5. In all fairness to Wendy, Blue Jays fans last year DID call management on their bluff and showed up to the games in greater numbers than the year before, despite the team not increasing payroll in any noticeable sense (they did bring in the right player for our market in Brett Lawrie, though).

    In fact, I believe total attendence was up 15% Y/O/Y in 2012.

    Now, after the 2012 season, Farrell embarrasses Rogers Communications and makes them out to look like a second rate organization leading to a chain of events where Paul Beeston threatens to quit unless the Blue Jays payroll is increased to 120 Mil. We also find out that Rogers is not in the bottom ten revenue teams and is not owed a new 2013 revenue compensation draft pick, despite having a bottom ten payroll for the last couple of years.

    The Toronto Blue Jays fans again respond after the moves:

    Apparently, season ticket sales are up 20% Y/O/Y heading into the 2013 season. The Toronto Blue Jays mgmt is projecting over 3 Million at the gate based on current sales, which according to the above stats is nearly a 50% increase in gate attendence Y/O/Y.

    Comment by AIS — March 21, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  6. Deeeep breath. It’ll be ok.

    Comment by scott — March 21, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

  7. The TV contract info isn’t bad but I would just go to Forbes for this type of info. It gives a much more complete picture even if it is just estimates which probably vary at least 10-20% against actual figures.

    Comment by MG — March 21, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  8. putting all the teams and their data in a graph form would be awesome. more so with the first two metrics.

    Comment by Will — March 21, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  9. The media revenue for the Blue Jays is way low because Rogers owns both the team and the broadcasting rights to the Jays. If the TV and radio rights were to be put on the open market the media revenue would be substantially higher. The Blue Jays are broadcast across Canada ( a market of 34 million) and there is spill over all along the Canada-US border.

    Comment by RL — March 21, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  10. From everything I’ve read the Blue Jays have very high TV and radio ratings. Rogers is cutting out the middle man on both of those.

    They are making a mint from TV and radio.

    Comment by omar little — March 21, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  11. I trust Wendy a lot more than I trust Forbes.

    Comment by byron — March 21, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  12. Wow! Mid-tier teams have up to $115M payrolls, up to $50M local TV revenues, are in cities as large as NYC, and have over 2M attendance. Mid-tier!

    Comment by Baltar — March 21, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  13. Sure, mid-tier. After all, teams have actually moved out of NYC, Washington, and Seattle; the White Sox almost moved, the Twins threatened, and the Diamondbacks went broke.

    Comment by Mr Punch — March 21, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  14. It should be noted that some of the White Sox’s attendance issues are due to the unusually high prices they have been charging over the past several years. They also have a disincentive to increase attendance, due to their leasing agreement with the city that charges them a fee per ticket sold, but waives that fee if they are under a certain attendance figure (c. 2,000,000, IIRC). Jim Margalus at South Side Sox has chronicled these attendance/pricing issues for several years, though it appears to be improving this year.

    Comment by Newcomer — March 21, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

  15. Depends on what happens with other teams in the coming year.

    Comment by Wendy Thurm — March 21, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  16. That’s an interesting point. I wasn’t aware of that issue. I will follow up.

    Comment by Wendy Thurm — March 21, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

  17. The Twins didn’t cap their payroll at $80m, they just left it there because the team is so bad spending that money wasn’t going to be useful.

    Comment by Tim — March 21, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

  18. Its sad to see a team like the Brewers outdraw everyone on this list, but be held back due to market size. I suppose it is one of the things that makes MLB different from the other major sports.

    Comment by Bob — March 21, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

  19. In terms of pure money making power, I think the Yankees stand head and shoulders above the rest, with LAD and Boston coming in 2/3.

    Comment by Random Thought — March 21, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  20. While I can’t state this with 100% certainty, Atlanta’s TV deal is estimated between $20-$25 million annually. While it’s not cripplingly bad at the moment, there’s two factors that make it a completely ridiculous deal.

    1) Atlanta is the 9th largest media market in the country, but 24-25 other teams are making more money in TV revenues.

    2) The Braves are locked into this deal, at the same price, UNTIL 2027! Julio Teheran, the youngest Brave on the roster at the moment, will be 37 years old before the Braves can get a new TV deal done.

    Comment by Bronnt — March 21, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  21. Absolutely. You can’t discuss the Blue Jays’ finances without focusing on its Maple Leaf joint venture (see here for some background: http://tinyurl.com/brvh7td). If Rogers’ business plan is to be a fully integrated sports/media company, then the Blue Jays are very much a top tier team.

    Comment by Will — March 21, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

  22. MG’s point is that you don’t get a good picture of the entire team’s revenue.

    Comment by Daniel — March 21, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

  23. As a White Sox fan, I’m not at all insulted. Anybody who pays attention understands that the White Sox are essentially a mid market team with fans that are tough to impress. They also understand that the Cubs attendance numbers are very inflated by the fact that a huge proportion of the people in the ball park – something like 25% – come fom over 100 miles away. There are actually about as many White Sox fans in the six county area as there are Cubs fans. But that narrative doesn’t sell newspapers.

    Comment by MikeS — March 21, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

  24. Hate to break it to you, but nothing sells newspapers anymore. Not even Cubs stories.

    Comment by Johnny Come Lately — March 22, 2013 @ 1:40 am

  25. Future article idea! I am interested in this point. Also, if you compared the ratio of a team’s market compared to ticket sales in a way of determining the most engaged fanbase, that would be neat as well. It would have to be reasonable market though (I live in Iowa so no the Royals and Cubs aren’t really my market if you know what I mean).

    Comment by Richard J — March 22, 2013 @ 4:59 am

  26. I get that Cincy is in the smallest media market, but they finished 16th in attendance last year. That’s hardly something to brag about when your team is winning and has been for several years.

    Comment by stan — March 22, 2013 @ 9:39 am

  27. I lived in Chicago area for half my life and I don’t agree with you at all. There are far more Cub fans in the six county area as Sox fans. Its not remotely close. I’d put the proportion of Cub fans to Sox fans at something like 75/25. I thought your complaint was going to be that the Cub fans aren’t actually baseball fans and therefore don’t pay any attention, and that’s true. The Cubs sold a lot of tickets last year (though far less than usual) but the stadium was pretty empty because people weren’t using the tickets. Stubhub had tickets for every game for less than $10.

    Comment by stan — March 22, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  28. Agreed, I live in San Diego (but I’m a Giants fan) and the Padres are filled with excuses on why the team sucks every year.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — March 22, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  29. As she states, they have topped 2 million seats sold all but 3 times since 2001. Much of that time they were quite bad, yet fans remained loyal and steadfast. Being such a small, loyal market, there is not much as room for growth during the better years as for teams in larger cities with more fair-weather fans. New York has 8.2 million people. Cincy has 300 thousand. Selling more tickets than the Mets and 15 other teams is how they can even remotely be considered “middle tier” in their tiny market.

    Comment by Jason — March 22, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  30. Aren’t Kansas City and Milwaukee both smaller markets than Cincinati?

    Comment by Phrozen — March 22, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  31. Home attendance per capita was higher for the Reds last year than the Yankees.

    GABP attendance for Reds games is up 35% from 2009 levels. In 2009 GABP had an average attendance of 21.5K per game, in 2012 they had 29K per game and there is no reason to think it won’t continue to climb.

    In addition their tv ratings are superb:

    Viewership for Cincinnati Reds telecasts on FOX Sports Ohio reached an all-time high in 2012. The network’s 145 games averaged an 8.53 household rating in the Cincinnati DMA, according to The Nielsen Co., up 18 percent from 2011. Of the network’s 145 game schedule, 93 prime time games averaged a 9.09 household rating. Additionally, the Reds averaged an 8.81 household rating during the Olympics.

    I’d say those figures are fantastic considering from 2001 to 2011 the Reds have had just 1 winning season; most of that time under Carl Lindner’s ownership. During this span they had a streak of 9 consecutive losing seasons and only one playoff appearance (being swept in the 2010 NLDS).

    Comment by M W — March 22, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

  32. http://www.sportstvjobs.com/resources/local-tv-market-sizes-dma.html

    Comment by M W — March 22, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

  33. Right. The Blue Jays have the 2nd or 3rd largest “local” media market in baseball, depending on how you count it. They also get internet blackout rights for all of Canada courtesy of mlb.

    Comment by Mike Green — March 22, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

  34. The Jays’ fans have rewarded the team’s spending. I’m pretty sure they could average around 30K with flex packs alone.

    Comment by GordieDougie — March 22, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  35. I agree 36 million seems way too low. Toronto (or GTHA) is either the 3rd or 4th biggest city-area in MLB and the other 3 are all split with multiple teams. Plus the supposed Canada-wide audience (per MLB blackout rules)

    Comment by Crc — March 22, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

  36. A little simplistic. Look at the competition other teams have in their markets. Not just other baseball teams or sports teams either. Perceived competitiveness of the team too. Not much to do in Milwaukee. It’s also not THAT far from the enormous Chicagoland area. Not much competition and a good team. The financial stuff is sad though.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 22, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  37. So apparently Rogers is “paying themselves” 35 million a year for the next 2 years for their tv rights. So the corp. is making the mint while the team doesn’t necessarily see that much of it

    Comment by Crc — March 22, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  38. So apparently Rogers is “paying themselves” 35 million a year for the next 2 years for their tv rights. So the corp. is making the mint … Not the team.

    Comment by Crc — March 22, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  39. What about mobile device deals? When the cable market collapses and everyone is out a bunch of money, will they be able to make more through media people actually use and will grow?

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 22, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  40. Again you guys are looking at this way too simplistically. Look at the population and also what else people could be doing. Look at average income, infrastructure, a LOT more than just attendance/population.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 22, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  41. That’s one reason reason that I don’t worry much as an Atlanta fan. Very few teams have really ventured into the mobile market, (though I don’t know how much MLB.tv prevents this), but the Braves are well situated to take advantage of any national consumer product. If the bubble breaks on these regional sports deals Atlanta’s national following will be a huge asset, I’d be surprised if the Braves weren’t in the top 5 in national popularity. Even if the market transitions to a pay per channel service the Braves would likely make substantial progress towards closing any gap.

    I’d also point out that the current deal looks less set in stone all the time. Certain rights have already been renegotiated giving the Braves a not insignificant bump in revenue just this past off-season. Also important is that the deal also limits what SportsSouth makes per subscriber, so it seems unlikely that if current market conditions hold that the deal will remain in place. It may be the case that SS gets bought out entirely to become a regional network or the deal itself is bought out. Liberty certainly has the coffers to make this happen, and if they plan to stay in the MLB game long term then it will likely make financial sense to do so. Basically, if Liberty doesn’t think this is a bubble the deal will get fixed, if they do then there’s no need to. I usually would never say trust a corporate owner, but I will always expect a corporate owner to figure out the best way to maximize profits.

    Comment by deadpool — March 23, 2013 @ 12:13 am

  42. In the late 90s and up until probably the mid 2000s I’d say so. Now I bet the Yankees, cards, dodgers, giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are all more popular. Braves are in that middle tier. Mlb.tv is definately hindering it and I guarantee that because the yanks, sox, and dodgers all have their tv deals, there is going to be HEAVY resistance from them if Atlanta starts to capitalize in the future.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 23, 2013 @ 1:12 am

  43. In February, Fred Wilpon announced to the media gathered at the Mets’ spring training facility that the family was now “debt-free,” but there is little evidence to suggest Wilpon was telling the truth.

    Actually, Wendy, there is a lot of evidence that the Mets may have turned the financial corner. Alderson said this winter that he had extra money to spend but chose not to spend it because he didn’t like the options out there:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/mets/post/_/id/60314/alderson-dishes-to-season-ticket-holders

    No, the Mets aren’t able yet to spend big-time on free agents — not that that would be a good thing for them at this point — but they do have extra resources to spend right now. Alderson has been taking a conservative course until he gets out fully from the big contracts left behind by Omar Minaya. After this year, Bay and Santana’s contracts come off the book.

    I would caution you to use Medgdal at Capital New York for your source of Mets information. He is widely known to have a strong bias and agenda against the current ownership, as well as a tendency to heavily spin his stories. For example, Megdal likes to say Picard settled the lawsuit because he felt the Mets owners couldn’t pay a higher price. Yet Piacard’s side didn’t get to examine the Mets financial records until after the settlement was made. Megdal knows this too. He was just so heavily invested in the Mets losing the lawsuit that he felt the need to justify why the trustee settled for so little. I think Picard settled for so little because Rakoff, the judge presiding in the case, had been heavily siding with the Mets side, and Picard wanted to avoid risking getting back almost nothing. (Rakoff had been siding with most of the defendants in the Picard lawsuits he was handling; not just the Mets, but also the banks.)

    I have been enjoying reading many of the pieces you do for Fangraphs, Wendy. Keep up the great work.

    Comment by caseyB — March 23, 2013 @ 6:54 am

  44. Most major league markets are similar as far as income (or more so cost of living/ticket price), infrastructure, and “what else people could be doing”.

    Comment by M W — March 23, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

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