Marlins firmly asked to spend more on players

Evaluating the DHs
Left field closing arguments: Xavier Nady

In New York, the Yankees are used to being on top. The team has won more World Series than any other in baseball history, and they’ve done so by spending more money than everyone else. In fact, in the decade that just ended, the Yanks spent $1.685 billion to reach the playoffs nine times, appear in the World Series four times and win the trophy twice.

Elsewhere, teams do not enjoy widespread wealth. They play in metropolitan markets with fewer people and a lesser television audience. They aren’t world-renown brands or international symbols of success. Many of the teams scrape by economically. They take advantage of baseball’s generous revenue sharing system to help fund the product on the field while owners struggle to break even or make a profit. And then we have the Marlins.

The Florida Marlins, purchased by Jeffrey Loria with help from MLB in a three-way deal that saw the Expos land in the hands of baseball and the Red Sox in the lap of John Henry, are among baseball’s most successful teams. They have never lost a playoff series; they’ve won two World Series titles since 1993; they are the game’s top profit-maker; and they have the city of Miami building them a stadium. Yet, all is not well in the state of Florida (shocking, I know).

As we covered briefly in the spring, the Marlins pocketed over $40 million in 2008 and probably did so again in 2009. Despite average just 18,770 fans per game, second worst in the Majors, the team is shoveling in the dough, largely through revenue sharing payments. By some accounts, the Marlins have now earned more money from MLB’s revenue sharing pot than Loria paid to buy the team in 2002. Today, this profitable house of cards Loria built nearly came crashing yesterday.

The fun started in the morning with a Clark Spencer article in the Miami Herald. Spencer reported that officials with both the Commissioner’s Office and the MLB Players Association were urging the Marlins to spend more money. According to Spencer, some unconfirmed reports claim that the Marlins, with a 2008 payroll of $27 million, took in $35 million in revenue sharing payments alone. Technically, then, all of the revenue sharing money was going to the on-field product, as mandated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but every other revenue dollar generated by the team was pure profit.

Later in the day, the MLBPA, MLB and the Marlins announced a semi-confidential agreement that nearly mandates the Marlins to spend more money on player contracts. Michael Weiner, the new executive director of the PA, issued a statement:

“In response to our concerns that revenue sharing proceeds have not been used as required, the Marlins have assured the Union and the Commissioner’s Office that they plan to use such proceeds to increase player payroll annually as they move toward the opening of their new ballpark. Today’s agreement, which covers the period 2010 through 2012, calls for ongoing communication among the Marlins, the Commissioner’s Office and the Union as the Marlins proceed with that plan. It also permits, after consultation among all parties, adjustments in the Marlins’ plan to respond to unforeseen developments, and calls for arbitral intervention if disagreements arise. We greatly appreciate the willingness of the Commissioner’s Office and the Marlins to engage with us and ensure that all terms of the Basic Agreement are met.”

The Marlins added their two cents. “The Marlins have consistently made every effort to put the best product on the field and our record supports the fact that we have been successful in that regard,” team president David Samson said. “Throughout the discussions, the Marlins maintained that there had been no violation of the Basic Agreement at any time. While we know that the Marlins will always comply with the Basic Agreement, we were happy to work cooperatively with the Union and the Commissioner’s Office on this matter.”

Samson’s statement is very telling, and it highlights the complicated economics of the situation. On the one hand, the Florida Marlins are very adept at building a very good team for little amount of money. As TSJC said earlier tonight, the Marlins have simply decided not to spend on players after free agency and instead have built a farm system where they can get top talent on the field for cheap. They won 87 games last year and weren’t eliminated from the playoff hunt until the end of September with a $38 million payroll. They pay approximately $436,700 per win while the Yankees paid over $2 million per way last year.

On the other hand, the Marlins barely make an effort to supplement revenue sharing viz-a-viz their payroll. If Loria and Co. bit into their profits and spent another $15-$20 million on the field, Larry Beinfest could probably build a playoff team, and the Front Office would see added revenues from playoff games and a pennant race. In fact, it might not make economic sense for the team to be so stingy with its money. It’s hard though to question the Marlins’ own brand of efficient team building.

And so we arrive at the question of the hour: What does this has have to do with the Yankees? The Yankees are the game’s number one payer of revenue sharing funds. Maybe the team, if it has to dole out some dollars, doesn’t want its opponents to put a product on the field that is too superior. After all, the Yanks have suffered through a World Series defeat at the hands of a Marlins team with a $63 million payroll.

But beyond that seemingly superficial reason, the Yankees and the Red Sox and the Mets and the Dodgers and the other big spenders should fear a salary floor. If the Marlins are forced to spend, who is to say that they will spend wisely? Nothing is stopping the Marlins from fulfilling their MLBPA-mandated payroll quota by signing some utility player to an overinflated contract and sticking him on the bench. That is, after all, what the union should want. As these role players make more money, though, the salary ramifications echo up to the top of the food chain. Suddenly, top-flight players can demand even more money, and everyone suffers.

Right now, it’s far too early to know how this move will pay out, but it’s an opening salvo in a war that will erupt between the haves and have-nots when the CBA expires in December 2011. Big-market teams shouldn’t see other owners pocketing the revenue-sharing profits, but enforced spending isn’t the answer. As baseball steps nearer to this abyss, the economics of it all could get very, very interesting.

Evaluating the DHs
Left field closing arguments: Xavier Nady
  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Yet, all is not well in the state of Florida (shocking, I know).

    Cheap shot, Kabak.

    • Joey

      What? We finished the recount for Gore v. Bush a 2 weeks ago, everything’s great now! (Orange/Broward County represent!)

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        My rebuttal: The Jaguars.

      • Rose

        As much as all Presidents and Presidential candidates suck, I’m kind of glad Gore lost. Especially since they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize for narrating a documentary about something that doesn’t exist. And to add insult to injury…he won the award over an 80-something year old woman who saved several Jewish children during WWII and hid them in her house…saved their names…and personally tried to help them find their loved ones after…if they were still alive. But no, give it to Gore…because his voice sounds like velvet mixed with peanut butter (Note: I certainly don’t think so).

        /End of unnecessary rant…my apologies haha

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Especially since they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize for narrating a documentary about something that doesn’t exist.


          • Rose


            What did we say this meant again? lol

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              That you massively and thickheadedly oversimplified the issue you’re speaking about, just like our good friend BoSalGrantLanny always does.

              • Rose

                You’re welcome.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Eh, I would have gone with “completely false,” but your way was a little nicer.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Well, whether you believe in global warming being real or not is a separate matter. But Gore didn’t get the Nobel for narrating An Inconvenient Truth. Gore got the Nobel for being one of the most prominent public figures to advocate for international climate change policy reform for the past 20+ years, the pinnacle of which was the highly successful An Inconvenient Truth.

              Gore’s been pushing his agenda (whatever you think of its validity) since he was a Congressional member from Tennessee back in the 70s. It’s not just some movie from nowhere, it’s a lifetime dedicated to the issue.

              • Rose

                Regardless. I feel the 80-something year old woman saving several Jewish lives during WWII is more deserving…but like I said above…this is merely JMO. If you think, on a day like today (15 degrees), that “warning” everybody about Global Warming is more admirable…that’s JYO.

                • Benjamin Kabak

                  I really don’t want to get into a debate about the validity of global warming, but a few points:

                  1. The scientific community has long ago reached a consensus that man-made omissions are having a significant impact on the global climate.

                  2. It’s not about warming. It’s about changing climate patterns. Some places will be cooler; some will be warmer. Scientists don’t know the impact of it all. Maybe we’ll see the polar ice caps melt — as they are right now. Maybe we’ll see a mini-ice age — as some are warning against now. Either way, it’s climate change and not warming everywhere.

                  3. Highlighting one spell of cold weather and saying it disproves global warming is like calling Shelley Duncan good at baseball because he hit a lot of home runs over a small period of time. Small sample size warning to the extreme. That’s how Sarah Palin interacts with science.

                  Anyway, that’s it. No more. Everyone have their final says and that’s it.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Here’s my final say:

                  Global warming is just some made up overanalysis by a bunch of geeks who don’t really like the earth. I grew up with the weather reports on my broadcast television, they’re fine with me, we don’t need all these newfangled stats to try and explain stuff.

                  I watched the weather today with my own eyes. It’s cold today. Global warming thus does not exist.

                • Rose

                  2. It’s not about warming. It’s about changing climate patterns. Some places will be cooler; some will be warmer. Scientists don’t know the impact of it all. Maybe we’ll see the polar ice caps melt — as they are right now. Maybe we’ll see a mini-ice age — as some are warning against now. Either way, it’s climate change and not warming everywhere.

                  Now see THIS I agree with. Bulldozing hundreds of trees at the base of a mountain to either build or do whatever…drastically changes the wind patterns and may kick up enough dirt to melt a lot of what’s already there.

                  Just like the different architecture of Yankee Stadium III has changed the wind patterns, bulldozing and tampering with mother-nature will on a much grander scale. But again, I’m not scientist…this is merely IMO. But I agree with this.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  “If you think, on a day like today (15 degrees), that “warning” everybody about Global Warming is more admirable…that’s JYO.”

                  That’s asinine and I think you’d know it if you put a little more thought into it. You’re really arguing that global warming doesn’t exist because it’s 15 degrees in New England today? You really want to stick with that argument?

                  Just because it may be cold in your particular small corner of the planet, don’t confuse that with an argument that the global climate hasn’t warmed and isn’t still warming. I mean, that would be Hannity-esque, and that’s beneath you. Now, the U.S. is just one small portion of the globe, and we’ve experienced some freakish record low temperatures in the last 10 years… But we’ve experienced even more record highs and, in fact, the ratio of highs to lows has risen every decade, including the 2000s, since the 1960s.

                  I agree with Ben that it’s not just about global warming but more about global climate change… But, at the same time, global warming does exist and is a significant part of and cause of a significant portion of such global climate change.


                • Rose

                  Clearly, the weather being 15 degrees today, wasn’t my main focal point…I just felt like adding it in there because it sounded nice.

                  I’m aware of the weather fluctuations. I know that it’s probably gotten freakishly hotter in August and remained there more frequently over the years than it has gotten freakishly cold and stayed put.

                  There are several factors involved though. It’s not the magical “O-Zone layer” or the entire 1980’s (what can I say, they liked hairspray then…) that did it. I’m not saying that everything is exactly the same and hunky dorey. I just don’t agree with some of the content of reasoning being tossed around. And it’s perfectly normal for you to disagree with me.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  It didn’t sound nice, it sounded ignorant. I’m sorry to be harsh and I hope you realize I’m talking about what you said and not you as a person.

                  What don’t you agree with that’s been said here? And if you disagree with it, what’s your reasoning? Is it an educated opinion based on awareness or familiarity with the findings of the scientific community, or is it just your off-the-cuff opinion?

                  I agree it’s normal for me to disagree with you, because you’re wrong. Again, I’m sorry to be harsh, and I hope that if you want to form an educated opinion on these matters and engage in these discussions, you’ll actually do a little research so that you’re better prepared to participate in the discussion. It’s like with baseball… Don’t you hate it when someone comes around with some half-assed opinion that completely disregards clear evidence to the contrary? I think you’re a smart guy and I think you’d agree with that statement… All I’m saying is, apply that to how you’re talking about climate change.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  You’re a dirty pinko leftist commie, Mondesi.

                  SalBoGrantLanny and Januz

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Heh, guilt as charged.

                  (Actually… Just in case (1) DHS, the RNC or any other prying eyes are watching, or (2) I ever decide to gain citizenship in the US and resign from the Dominican legislature in order to run for office in the US… I, The Honorable Congressman Mondesi, am not a communist.)

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Btw, I honestly didn’t see where Ben asked us all to have one final say and leave it be. So, Ben – My bad, I apologize. No more responses from me.

                • Rose

                  It’s based on my own familiarity, what I read, several discussions, classes, etc. And I would have shared all of this had I thought it were entirely necessary. I went off on a tangent rant and apologized. Ben asked us to quit it and put his opinion in the mix…I agreed…and then more kept piling up on top of it.

                  I agree with you, if I felt like I knew absolutely nothing at all and just based my opinions on a whim…sure. I can understand how you’re upset or disagree. I just didn’t think going all out throwing facts and statistics around about something entirely irrelevant was necessary. Now, bringing it up in the first place wasn’t necessary either…but it was a mere small rant that actually had at least something to do with what had just been said previously. Was it right? Probably not. But I’ve been trying to drop it ever since.

                  Anyway, I respect your opinion although I think it’s misunderstood…and rightfully so. Had I felt comfortable talking further about it in depth…I certainly would have…but with my past reputation and the fact of pulling out references, quotes, and studies in the middle of a thread on the Marlins’ payroll seemed like it would go too far.

                  So that being said. Sorry I ever brought it up in the first place…I respect all of you and your opinions. Now let’s go eat!

        • Accent Shallow

          You know what this blog needs? More political discussion.

          /get that out of here

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


            Let’s talk about religion instead. My god is way better than your god.

            • ColoYank

              Oh yeah? Well, Buddha your god infinity!

            • jsbrendog

              you have angered the flying spaghetti monster

            • Rose

              “Oh yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!”

          • Bo

            It needs more lame movie quotes from Eric. Cue one now from him…

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime (Optimovelist Primus)

    Nicely said.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    Elsewhere, teams do not enjoy widespread wealth. They play in metropolitan markets with fewer people and a lesser television audience. They aren’t world-renown brands or international symbols of success. Many of the teams scrape by economically.

    My ears are burning…

    John Henry

    • Ivan


  • shatner

    asked firmly*

    Firmly asked is like boldly go

  • JeffG

    I wonder if the the Yanks have been ordered by Selig’s office to spend less… perhaps that is why the budget is so important?

    • Bo

      a commish cannot tell an owner how or who to spend on. Thats not his place.

  • UltimaK

    The Marlins are a great team. They almost signed Chapman and are in the works for a long-term deal with Johnson. They’re payroll will increase somewhat next year if they keep Uggla (which it now seems they will) and secure Johnson. They’re a starter and a reliever away from the playoffs.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      That’s definitely one of my points. Yet, they don’t seem willing to spend that money — which they have — one a starter or a reliever or another bat.

    • Bo

      Almost signing someone is now considered good???

      They’re a joke. A team with no loyalty and no continuity.

  • MikeD

    How can MLB ask the Yankees to pay yet even more in revenue sharing with the new pending CBA when it’s clear that teams like the Marlins are simply pocketing the money the Yankees are already sending? It’s a good question, and one that scares both MLB and the Player’s Union. Both want more Yankee money and the Marlins are screwing up their plans!

  • Ben

    I dunno how this whole revenue sharing system works, but why can’t they do that a team can get a maximum amount of revenue sharing matching their payroll? or maybe just a percentage of it?

  • Nostra-Artist

    This is bad news for those of us who were hoping the Marlins and Josh Johnson wouldn’t be able to reach a deal for a contract extension, which would then prompt trade talks.

  • Will

    If the Marlins are smart, they will use their revenue sharing windfall to lock up players like Johnson and Ramirez and then can continue to use their strong player development to fill in the gaps around them.

  • Richard Deegan

    Rather than mandatory conversion of revenue-sharing funds into a given payroll amount, revenue-sharing should be viewed in terms of its supposed purpose: to make “small” market teams competitive. The only fair way to do this is to link the continuity (or cutoff) of RS funds to a team’s success. Thus, if a team is among the losingest 5-10 teams two years in a row, they should lose 50% of their RS funding. If they’re among the losingest 5-10 teams three years in a row, they should lose it all. How they achieve that success (moving off the bottom) is up to the individual team: player development, increased scouting expense, better coaching / preparation in the minors, etc.
    During the last few years, the Mets have been sending on players, but cutting down scouting and other development expenses. So they spend money for free agents and young players, but without having a clue as to what they are worth. Ditto the Cubs with their bloated salaries for garbage-time players (LOOGY Grabow at $4 MM is a fine example).
    It was those teams that undertook development and farm teams in the 30s and 40s (NYY, Brooklyn, St. Louis) who found success, not those merely paying higher salaries (compare the salaries for some of Tom Yawkey’s Dropos, Stephens and Jensens in the 50s early 60s with the Yanks for Berras, Fords and Bauers).
    Look at the bonus-baby signings with the two-year ML roster requirement: the “big market” Yanks, Dodgers and Giants got their share, but the lowly Senators got Killebrew, and the Tigers got Kaline (just to name two).
    To me, the bloated salaries for free agents came about not with Winfield for $2 MM a year (or whatever the figure was), but for Bob Baylor sitting perched on a cliff, getting $1 MM for three years. Forcing the use of RS funds for payroll or signing free agents would just lead to more of the same bloating for mediocre players (you know that the latter is what any union wants, but that doesn’t make it right).
    Make teams show RESULTS from their use of revenue-sharing finds

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


      • pete

        except here it makes some sense. no child left behind just means that bad schools get worse instead of better. this would just force teams to try to be competitive. although at the same time you could envision a scenario in which teams like the marlins stay out of the bottom 5-10 without spending money.

        • A.D.

          Well bad teams would continue to get worse, especially think about if you’re a small market team right now, and you decide to invest a bunch in the draft, that won’t pay off for at least 4-6 years, while every year you’re going to get funding cut, meaning you can spend less and thus can’t continue your strategy (which one would need to continue given the high attrition rates of draft picks).

          The thing that makes the most sense is not really putting strings (as they have been) and in a case by case scenario if someone appears to be abusing the rules then take some action.

          Of all the small market teams out there the Marlins are one of the most successful, both in terms of the product they put on the field, and their profitability. If the Pirates & Royals could operate like the Marlins, they’d be better off

  • Jake H

    I saw this article and I couldn’t tell if it was a joke article or an actual one. I think it’s good that MLB is making them spend something. They need to appear as if they spend money.

    If you look at their payroll from 06. It was $14,998,500 on the mlb team and spent $5.1 million on the draft or 34%.

  • Rose

    Teams that don’t have a lot of money or are in Metropolitan areas…should considera different procedure, perhaps. Here’s what I would do…I would invest most of my money on management and scouting…THEN use the rest to put whatever team I can out there. You suck for a little bit (like most do anyway?) you collect top talent via draft…trade them off when they become too expensive for MORE top talent…while continuing your successful drafting year after year…and continue this over and over.

    The Rays have caught on a little bit. The Twins and Athletics have used this successfully…other teams seem to struggle mightily with it.

    There is obviously more to it than just this…but this is a broad example of what teams like this could do. IMO

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    Instead of mandating that teams like the Marlins spend more money, is there any way to limit their revenue sharing payments based on how much money they spend on payroll? If you took, say, the bottom 10 teams in terms of payroll, and apportioned the money they receive in revenue sharing by how much each team paid in payroll, respectively, would that help the situation? At least then we wouldn’t be handing money to teams as pure profit, like the Marlins situation, and we also wouldn’t be mandating that teams spend more money and potentially confronting the problems that will create.

    This is a very quick, off-the-cuff reaction… Does it make any sense?

    • Jake H

      Not yet but they could change the cba. The CBA says that they have to spend on it but not what to do if they don’t spend it.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Well obviously any change would have to be made through the CBA, I didn’t mean I thought they could change rules today without going through the proper channel, I was wondering if that idea would be plausible/effective if it were to be adopted through the proper channels.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


      Or perhaps more basically, instead of revenue sharing, it should be profit sharing. You get money from a collective pool of funds to improve or maintain your team only in proportion to how much less spending money you have on hand to buy players with.

      So the Marlins wouldn’t qualify for revenue sharing if they only made 40M in revenue, because they only spent 20M in total expenses and thus, they’re not broke and don’t need public support.

      The problem with that idea is, it will correct the injustice of small market teams pocketing the straight-profit revenue sharing payments they are eligible for under the current system, but it will never eradicate the thing revenue sharing was designed to eradicate permanently: the large gap in BOTH revenues and expenses between large and small market teams.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Yeah… Wouldn’t you also create a situation in which certain teams, like the Marlins, flip-flop in and out of the system every other year? I guess that’s a necessary by-product of that type of system, and that by having a team like the Marlins flip-flop in and out of the system you’re trying to teach them how to act so that they’re not flip-flopping anymore. But, in practice, it’s a problem to have that happen, because you could really harm an organization that relies on revenue sharing funds and then suddenly doesn’t have those funds one season. Again, though, the counter-argument might be that you’d be weeding out bad owners/organizations, but the goal is to keep these organizations viable, not to weed them out of MLB.

      • Ed

        Or perhaps more basically, instead of revenue sharing, it should be profit sharing. You get money from a collective pool of funds to improve or maintain your team only in proportion to how much less spending money you have on hand to buy players with.

        Wouldn’t any team with their own sports network totally break that system?

        The sports networks are classic Hollywood accounting schemes – they’re independently businesses that buy the rights to broadcast the team’s games at low prices. The network turns a massive profit, and the team ends up breaking even or losing money. It hides a lot of revenue from the revenue sharing system.

        • A.D.

          Yes it does, see the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays

    • A.D.

      What I think your saying is if max revenue sharing payments a team could receive is 40M, and they only have a payroll of 30M, then that’s all they get?

      This is essentially the same as a floor. You’re saying here’s a free 10M as long as you spend it on players, thus they have no incentive to really spend the money wisely, or to save it for MLB’s sake.

  • Accent Shallow

    It’s irrelevant whether the Marlins are competitive or not — that they have been is a testament to their GMs, as well as the player development teams. What matters is that the owners run the team with an eye on profit, not necessarily with putting the most competitive team on the field, which is a violation of the Basic Agreement.

    Loria and Samson have been stealing money for years, and it’s good to see MLB finally do something about it, even if it appears to be relatively weak action.

    • ColoYank

      Whether we like to countenance it or not, putting a competitive product on the field is secondary to making a profit, for all owners of MLB teams. The Yankees recognize a higher burden, a higher standard for their own, and put a competitive product on the field because it has a bearing on how much money they make. The same cannot be said for several teams that could be named. They don’t see the same correlation between on-field success and profit.

  • Bo

    It’s sorry for their fans that their owners would rather make a profit instead of win. The yankees could certainly do that but long term it is terrible for the brand and the franchise. And ends up costing money. You build no loyalty with the Marlin approach.

    • ColoYank

      Other teams don’t see their brand the same way the Yankees do. As I said in a reply to Accent Shallow, profit comes before competition for all teams. Owners are in it to make money, plain and simple. That doesn’t always translate into an interesting product on the field.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Right, but if owners are in it to make money, they should be investing money into their clubs and trying to put the best possible team on the field.

        Organizations that don’t spend money on their teams may see a profit, but that’s a short-term gain and does nothing to improve the health of the organization, it only improves the financial health, in the short-term, of that specific ownership group. Organizations that spend money on their teams and build winning teams set themselves up for long-term success, both on the field and on their balance sheets.

      • A.D.

        Other teams don’t see their brand the same way the Yankees do.

        Other brands also aren’t like the Yankees, so they shouldn’t. The Yankee brand is essentially built on the mystique of yesteryear & the recent success of today, along with being an iconic team in one of the major cities in the world. Thus most teams really cannot replicate that no matter how hard they try, because they cannot recreate the past & they can’t suddenly make their home market a major city in the world.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          That’s a point we can’t overlook as Yankee fans.

          Do I think George Steinbrenner’s tireless pursuit of a title and willingness to spend whatever is necessary to obtain that title makes him the best owner in sports? Yes. But, Steinbrenner had a MASSIVE structural benefit that enabled him to do that. He had the Yankee brand and the NYC metro area customer base.

          He had a gigantic supply of wealthy customers just itching to spend money on a quality product, so he could be supremely confident in his ability to triple his expenses and still turn a profit in short order. He could afford to go into debt building his team with the secure knowledge that it would start generating correspondingly large revenue streams before he went broke and had to sell the club.

          Other teams may not really be able to do that. I’m not sure that “If you build it, they will come” really works in places not named New York or Boston.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            It does.

            There have been plenty of studies done (see: Horowitz – If You Play Well They Will Come—and Vice Versa: Bidirectional Causality in Major-League Baseball; and Noll: Attendance and Price Setting, among many others) to confirm for us something very intuitive and simple – if you build a winning team and provide a winning experience, fans will buy tickets to your games and watch your team on television and buy jerseys and hats and videos of your triumphs.

            And do the Marlins have the built-in advantages of the Yankees? No. Do they have the built-in advantages of any other team in a major market? Yes, especially when they move into their new stadium. Let’s not forget that when George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973 he (and his fellow investors) paid $10 million for it. In 1998, with the Yankees in the middle of a successful run, the Yankees had the second highest payroll in the game. In 1990, the Yanks had the 4th highest payroll (and were within $1 million of the five teams right behind them), and I assume the Yanks have been near the top of the payroll standings since the 70s… But their payroll/revenue advantage, until the 2000s, was certainly not as significant as it is today. And as far as popularity, during the late 60s/early 70s and the 80s the Mets routinely outdrew the Yankees at the gate. The point being… The Yankees do not have an advantage simply because they exist in NYC and have a storied history, but also because they’ve BUILT that advantage over the last 15 years or so.

            Now, none of this is to say the Yankees didn’t have SOME sort of advantage from the start. They DO play in NYC, they do have a lot of history… But they also had those things before the 2000s (and other teams exist in NY that do not enjoy such a financial advantage, whether they exist in sports without salary caps, like the Mets, or even in the salary capped sports – just look at history before the institution of those caps), and their payroll/revenue advantage, if it existed, didn’t grow to outsized proportions until the 2000s. What happened? They invested shrewdly and pressed their advantages. They built a winning product and never looked back, building a television network and a (ridiculous) new stadium on the back of that winning product. And, in the end, they built themselves a very nice financial advantage.

            Does ‘if you build it, they will come’ work as well in every MLB market as it does in places like New York and Boston? Of course not. But it does work. I’m not saying the Marlins can do exactly what the Yankees did nor that they can do it as well, but they can follow a similar blueprint, adjusted for their particular market and situation, and be successful. There are plenty of teams in markets not named New York or Boston that do very well by investing money into their team and marketing, etc. Just off the top of my head… I’d say the Orioles of the 90s were a good example of a team that put a winning product on the field and was rewarded financially, the Mariners have done well for themselves, the Astros are very popular in Houston… And I’m just thinking of teams that do not have either the NY/Boston advantage or the ‘storied history’ advantage. I completely disagree with the notion that the concept of ‘if you build it, they will come’ doesn’t work outside the NY/Boston-type markets.

            (Just btw, if anyone notices some similarity between the comment above and comments I’ve posted in the past, that’s because I borrowed liberally from other comments I’ve written instead of bothering to write this stuff again from scratch.)

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              (golf clap)

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Thanks… A little too Yankees-centric, I know, but I didn’t feel like looking up the necessary info to discuss those other teams. That’s been done, like in the studies cited above, by smarter and more motivated people than me.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Agreed. While it’s all well and good that the Marlins make money using their approach, they’d make more if they put more money into their team and put a team on the field that not only contended every few years on the cheap, but also attracted fans and fostered fan loyalty. I won’t bother citing the studies I’ve cited before, but suffice it to say that, basically, if you put a winning product on the field, the fans will come.

      • ColoYank

        I don’t have an argument with your statement. I would never say the management approach of some of these franchises was wise or far-sighted. Like in a lot of American businesses, ownership is in it for this year’s return on investment, and next year’s and then they plan to sell.

        A winning product on the field may well add to attendance, and maybe even TV ratings and internet hits, but judging from their behavior there are owners who don’t see these results as adding to their bottom lines.

      • Ed

        You’re right in general, but the Marlins differ for two reasons:

        1) They receive a large portion of their revenue via revenue sharing. As they make more money, they receive less in revenue sharing. It’s not a 1:1 ratio, as that would encourage them to not increase their revenue, but it is a concern.

        2) Their stadium lease is atrocious. The Miami Dolphins get about 80-90% of the revenue generated at the stadium. If they were to suddenly drastically increase the average attendance, they wouldn’t actually get that much more money.

        So for the Marlins, the sweet spot for a large profit comes from putting in minimal effort and keeping expenses as low as possible. Fortunately, this should change when they move into their new stadium.

  • A.D.

    Nothing is stopping the Marlins from fulfilling their MLBPA-mandated payroll quota by signing some utility player to an overinflated contract and sticking him on the bench.

    Luckily there’s nothing about the Marlins existence so far to lead one to believe they will do this, and frankly the GMs in KC & the Mets (aka the contest) do a good enough job of this already, that the Marlins may not be able to make significant economic change in baseball.

    Hopefully if the Marlins are smart (and everything points to they are), they’ll buy out FA years on their young players, and they’ll be getting all kinds of new revenue as the Miami Marlins when their new park opens (and they can’t really make less revenue or get less fans then they do now). The beauty of it is MLB can look to force them to sign players longer term, they can buy out FA years on their kids, and then still trade them as they get more expensive under their buyout contracts.

  • Ban Bud

    What this story is basically about is poormouth teams like the Marlins using Bud’s “revenue stealing” scam to fatten their bank accounts. Free money is too much of a temptation for wealthy owners to expect them to use that money in a responsible manner.

    Get rid of the “revenue sharing” scam and let the owners spend what they want. MLB shouldn’t be telling ballclubs where to spend their money or how much cash should be allocated to a specific aspect of the team.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Get rid of the “revenue sharing” scam and let the owners spend what they want. MLB shouldn’t be telling ballclubs where to spend their money or how much cash should be allocated to a specific aspect of the team.

      You do that, and you widen the discrepancy. I bet the Marlins would have folded by now if there was no revenue sharing and each team could just spend whatever they wanted to.

  • gfd

    I would like to see the teams that accept the Corporate Welfare field a min of 70M per annum on their team.

    These teams rake in free money, between Revenue sharing, Luxury tax, and the 30M MLB sends all teams from the National TV profits, and all MLB products. They yield between 60-90M before any fans come through the turnstile, and this doesn’t include the gate receipts,concessions, or local Tv,Radio advertising revenues.

    Most of these teams or paying off the buying cost of the team, and pocketing the rest. While the Yankees and other successful teams are taxed for running successful franchises.

  • cameron

    Yankees were bought for 10m, and are now worth 1.5 billion.
    They worked hard to promote their brand in the USA and internally, and are now expected to subsidize the other lazy, ill prepared owners that don’t know how to run a sports franchise.
    The live blood of a sports franchise, is in income streams, the Yankees do this text book well!

  • Zack

    I dont care if the Marlins have a payroll of 20m or 50m, revenue sharing should only cover 75-80% of the payroll, not 150%.