What a difference 10 years make

In 2003, the Braves’ $106 million payroll was the third-highest in baseball, behind only the Yankees and Mets.

In 2013, they ranked 16th, with $89 million committed to player salaries. In 2014, the Royals and D’backs appear primed to have higher payrolls.

I hate to be keep being a wet blanket, but those who think the Braves will re-sign either Jay Hey or Freddie are dreaming. It ain’t happening.

Blame Liberty, and the man who made their ownership possible:

I said, ‘YOU SUCK!’

Martin Prado, Josh Wilson

Keeping up with the Arizonas

The Braves and Diamondbacks had nearly identical payrolls in 2013. Arizona’s local TV contract is a little better — they receive $31 million annually for their broadcasting rights — but the Braves made up for it in attendance, drawing 5,000 more fans a game than the Snakes.

The similarities end there.  According to Ken Rosenthal, the D-backs should be considered “major players” for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka.

While the D-backs did not make Choo a formal offer, they knew his price and likely would have intensified their interest if they had failed to acquire outfielder Mark Trumbo, according to major league sources.

Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, had informed teams that they only could enter the discussions by bidding in the seven-year, $140 million range, sources said. The Yankees reportedly made such an offer. The D-backs, after including ownership in their internal discussions, were open to the idea, sources said.

While  Braves beat writer Mark Bowman says he’d be surprised if Freddie Freeman is signed to an extension, Arizona shrewdly locked up their young first sacker, Paul Goldschmidt, through 2019. They also signed Martin Prado to a four-year, $40 million extension after the Braves said they couldn’t afford to. That contract already looks like a bargain considering the money that’s been thrown around this offseason.

How long before the Braves are being outbid by the Rays and A’s?

Braves more profitable in 2013, yet payroll stays the same

According to to Liberty Media’s quarterly filing with the SEC (h/t Willie Montanez), the Braves reported revenues of $251 million for FY 2013 (through 9/30) with a operating income – the difference between operating revenues and operating expenses — of $52 million.

That’s an increase of $21 million from the same period in 2012, when the team reported revenues of $216 million and an operating income of $31 million.

And that doesn’t count the extra $25 million in national TV revenues. If the Braves spent half of their additional $46 million in profits on players their payroll would be about what Washington’s was in 2013.

Instead we’re told the payroll will probably end up at around $95 million — roughly $5 million above last year’s.

You don’t need me to tell you where the other $40 million is going.

 

What will Braves spend their $25 million on?

DOB reports:

The Braves’ payroll is likely to rise to about $100 million in 2014, up from approximately $90 million in 2013. That’s right in the middle of the pack of 30 MLB teams. All major league teams will receive about $25 million more annually beginning in 2014 from the new national TV contract.

The Braves will be spending less than half of it on players, A $100 million payroll won’t be middle of the pack for long.

Braves always round down when it comes to payroll

We assumed the trade of Tommy Hanson meant the Braves had around $14 million to spend for LF and the bench. Not surprisingly, that number shrunk over the weekend.

According to DOB, “indications are that have a total of about $10 million or slightly more to spend on those positions.”

Oh, but Terry McGuirk tells us Liberty doesn’t set any limits on payroll. So I guess that makes T-Mac the cheap bastard.

As an aside, isn’t it about time someone asked The Worst Commissioner in the History of Sports to name one franchise that was enriched by corporate ownership? Fox and the Dodgers? Disney and the Angels? Liberty and the Braves?

More revenue coming in, but Braves payroll to remain same

The new national TV contracts mean each team will receive an additional $27 million, starting next year.

Alas, Liberty won’t be using that money to acquire new talent. According to Mark Bowman, the Braves’ payroll will remain around $94 million.

The descent into small marketdom continues, thanks to indifferent ownership.

Braves soon to be a small market club, thanks to Time Warner

You’ve probably heard about those new regional TV contracts that have allowed teams like the Rangers and Angels to spend big this offseason. That got me optimistic, since the Braves, more than most, are truly a regional team.

But the Bravos won’t be able to take advantage of that enhanced revenue stream for 20-plus years, thanks to the team’s previous corporate overlords.

“Whenever old [TV] deals are up and new deals get realized, there are big jumps in value. I have predicted that, knew it was coming,” McGuirk said. “And I think we have an undervalued local rights [deal].

“That being said, we inherited a deal that was done under [previous owner Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner] a little over four years ago, before the sale, that lasts out through 25 years. So there is no opportunity for a different deal than the one we have. Every single set of games on the different networks that we are seen on [Fox Sports South, SportSouth and Peachtree TV] are all 25-year deals or thereabouts.”

McGuirk said the deals call for “cost-of-living type increases” each year, but contain no options for renegotiation.

Corporate ownership sure has been good for the Bravos, hasn’t it? Score another gutter ball for Bud.

Wren on the record: Payroll will increase

GM Frank Wren told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM Radio that the Braves will increase their payroll in 2012, but that doesn’t mean they’ll pursue top free agent shortstops (all Twitter links). Wren indirectly ruled free agents Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes out by expressing a strong preference for one-year deals.

Though the Braves remain open-minded regarding possible trades, Wren explained that a free agent signing is more likely. Shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky is not ready for full-time MLB duty, according to Wren. Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta’s shortstop since July 2010, hits free agency with a Type B ranking (Reyes and Rollins are Type As).

Could the Braves have the lowest payroll in the NL East?

Probably not in 2012, as Ken Rosenthal reports the Braves are likely to raise payroll, although I’m guessing it will be a modest (think $5 million) increase, if any.

It’ll be a slight jump compared to the Nats and Marlins, who are reportedly bidding on the likes of Pujols, Fielder, C.J. Wilson and Reyes. Signing just one of those players would bump their payrolls — $63 million and $56 million in 2011, respectively — into the Braves’ neighborhood.

That neighborhood will also likely include the Mets, looking to shed a significant amount from the $118 million it spent last season. How does you spend $118 million and end up with R.J. Dickey as your ace?

If the Braves are going to add, they’ll have to subtract

According to MLBTradeRumors, raises for arbitration-eligible players Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, Eric O’Flaherty, Michael Bourn and Peter Moylan will add up to roughly $21 million against next year’s payroll. Combine that with their other contractual agreements and you get around $88 million, not including minimum salary players. So you’re pretty much at this year’s $91 million payroll.

Those arbitration raises, which include an additional $3 mil for Bourn,  projected to make around $7 mil next season, negate shedding the contracts of McLouth (who will be bought out for $1.25 million) and Kenshin. I’m trusting MLBTR’s math, assuming, for instance, they didn’t include McLouth’s contract against next year’s payroll.

So if the Braves are going to add an innings-eater or another bat, they’ll have to do so through a trade, subtracting players like JJ and Martin. MLBTR estimates those two will make a combined $9.5 million in 2012. And they alone won’t get you a difference-maker; that would require a prospect or two.

The $15 million owed D-Lowe continues to limit FW’s options. He has only himself to blame, of course, and fans can only hope that contract remains the current administration’s biggest mistake.

Holding Liberty accountable

I just paid $54 for two upper box seats. The cheap seats, they used to call ‘em.

Three years ago, those seats were $12 apiece. The team raised the price slightly for “premium” games in the ensuing years — $16, $18 most. Suddenly they’re $27, despite a recession. No wonder attendance is down.

Typical of the tone deaf ownership of Liberty Media. And let’s not give figurehead CEO Terry McGuirk a pass, as he must’ve hired he guy or gal who decided “Gone with the Wind” night was a good idea. Ticket prices have gone up while the stadium experience has worsened.

Now we approach another trading deadline with ownership clinging to austerity even though Liberty’s CEO, Greg Maffei, makes $87 million — three mil more than this year’s payroll. Three mil could be the difference between another first round exit and the team’s first World Series berth of the 21st Century.

You can bet it won’t be spent. Hell, Greg Maffei has probably never attended a Braves game. What does he care if they reach the Fall Classic?

That indifference marks Liberty’s tenure, though, to be fair, it could be worse.

The 'spirit' of Atlanta ownership groups

Storm clouds, and a stupid quote from Fredi

Fredi commenting on Proctor post-game: “And you feel really comfortable with Scotty Proctor in that situation to handle those guys.”

  • As for Proctor’s replacement, don’t count Kris Medlen anytime soon:

Medlen suffers a second setback in elbow surgery recovery

  • Speaking of injuries:

Jones considering skipping All-Star game to address right knee

  • And don’t count on the Braves spending much money to address their holes:

Braves need some creative financing

Ellsbury just became more available

The Red Sox are about to acquire Adrian Gonzalez for a package of prospects. Jacoby Ellsbury is still with the Sox – for now. 

Buster Olney sez Boston has enough payroll flexibility to afford either Crawford or Werth. If they add one of those All-Stars, Ellsbury appears the odd man out. I’m assuming Theo Epstein will try to swap him for prospects, having depleted his farm system to get Gonzalez.

It’s revealing that Boston can acquire an elite power hitter and STILL be shopping in the gourmet section while we cross our fingers hoping management splurges for mac and cheese knowing we’ll have to settle for Ramen noodles. Perhaps FW can convince them Ellsbury, or someone like him, makes the Braves legit World Series contenders, but I’m sure John Malone could care less.