Well in his case, let’s just say you should not worry about how his investment is doing. John Brattain from The Hardball Times documents it nicely.
Look, the effort to shed light on the Marlins finances is not meant to be an attack on the organization. As I’ve tried to make clear, they have acted in a manner consistent with their interests and other MLB teams in similar circumstances. It’s just that on this issue – the veil of secrecy re MLB finances – our interests [mine as a fan] do not coincide. To be fair, Mr Loria has his fans, even science writer Natalie Angier champions his cause.
Actually, a good case can and was made by a prominent sports economist, J.C. Bradbury, that the Marlins are one of the most effective organizations in MLB. He ranked them #1 for the years analyzed in his book, 2003 through 2005. In addition he recently posted a lengthy argument on his baseball blog titled, Defending the Marlins, which I believe makes excellent points, including a very interesting statistical analysis about the effects of free agent signings on attendance, but most relevant to this blog was the following:
“While some of this might be luck, I think good management explains most of the difference. Some of that money not going to player payroll is going to baseball operations devoted to scouting young talent that is cheap. And because this practice yields substantial savings over signing expensive free agents, then this is a good use of funds. At least the Marlins deserve credit for putting a better field on the team than most teams with similar budgets.
If the Marlins can build a good core with cheap players, why doesn’t its front office fill out its roster with quality free agents in order to make a stronger bid for the post-season? Another point that I want to make is that Marlins fans don’t seem to be as sensitive to winning as other major-league franchises. Thus, buying free agents doesn’t yield the return at the turnstiles like it does for other teams.”
I would just note that until it can be better explained how the Marlins impressive scouting performance would equate to having spent a significantly greater amount of money in that area – i.e. How did they differ appreciably in their operations from what other MLB teams do? – then I think it makes sense to assume that their results have more to do with the quality of the work of Larry Beinfest, Michael Hill and their scouts as opposed to having invested more money into their infrastructure than other MLB teams. I start out with the assumption that most teams do roughly the same things in scouting and development, but that some are just better at it.
In practical terms, do they have operations in 10 countries as opposed to only 5 for most other teams? Are their scouting operations consistently staffed at significantly higher levels and with better paid scouts? Do the number of baseball academies they run exceed what the other 4 lowest revenue teams do?
That aside, I think Mr Bradbury makes a good case for teams relying more on prospects than free agents. But if those teams are receiving Revenue Sharing [RS] monies, it also means they probably violate the CBA’s provisions regarding what they are supposed to do with those monies. Why shouldn’t the fans participate in the RS windfall with a drop in ticket prices? If MLB prefers not to enforce a salary floor on the RS receiver teams, why not force teams like the Marlins to slash ticket prices? It would reduce their RS driven operational profits, create goodwill and an incentive for the team to spend money in the future.
My point is not exactly how the Marlins should spend their monies. But that given their current levels of payroll and national revenues, there can be no ‘rational’ doubt as to the Marlins’ profitability at the levels which Forbes estimates and that they are violating MLB’s provision regarding what they should be doing with the revenue sharing monies received.
So the answer to the question – Could we have afforded Miguel Cabrera [at Detriot Tiger rates]? – might be yes, but no thanks, we’ve got a better plan. But among reasonable people, the answer can’t be no, because we don’t have the revenues.