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  • Twins Should Follow Blue Jays Bold Lead

    Originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com

    I’ve been feeling under the weather the past couple of weeks and that tends to make me grumpy. I’m feeling much better, but apparently the grumpiness is not wearing off quickly. The Toronto-Miami trade announced Tuesday didn’t help my mood much, either.

    We really should have seen this coming. It’s not like Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has never cleaned house before, right? True, in the past, he’s dumped his high-priced stars after winning World Series Championships and pleading poverty because he didn’t have a shiny new stadium like other teams did. But in retrospect, we really can’t be surprised that he is once again overseeing the complete dismantling of his roster. What did surprise us, however, was that this time he unloaded almost his entire remaining cadre of recognizable stars to one single team and that team was the Toronto Blue Jays!

    All-Stars Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes are now Blue Jays, as are Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck, who’s actually returning for a second engagement in Toronto. The Marlins are also sending a few million dollars in cash along, but not enough to even make a dent in what I’ve seen estimated to be $160 million of remaining salary owed to the new Jays players. In fact, it appears the cash included in the deal is primarily just to cover most of Buck’s salary.

    In return, Toronto sent the Marlins Yunel Escobar and several young (read: cheap) players that are several years from their first big paydays. A couple of those players are legitimate prospects that could eventually play major roles on a Big League roster, so it’s not like Toronto didn’t give anything up in the deal.

    But this is a Minnesota Twins blog, so what does any of this have to do with the Twins? Simply this… the Blue Jays, like the Twins, saw themselves at or near the bottom of their Division after yet another disappointing season and faced some choices concerning how to change their fortunes. They could promote young talent from within the organization to fill some of their needs and look to fill a few other holes via trade or fringe free agents… or they could find top-shelf talent available on the trade market and use some of their better young prospects to acquire it. They obviously chose the latter path.

    As Twins fans, I think we’re entitled to pose the question, “Why shouldn’t the Twins do the same thing?”

    I know we’ve been brainwashed for years by the Twins to the point where we now believe that the only way for the Twins to become competitive again is to trade away established stars like Denard Span, Justin Morneau and/or Josh Willingham for the starting pitching so desperately needed and middle infield help that certainly could stand to be upgraded, while replacing the departing players by backfilling with young guys. That’s what the Twins have always done. It’s a much more accurate description of “The Twins Way” than is the long-established myth that they play sound fundamental baseball between the lines.

    The Blue Jays, however, have examined a very similar set of circumstances and decided instead to be bold. Of course, it helped that they found a crazy-assed owner who overpaid for several stars a year ago and now wanted to dump them all.

    So let’s return to the question posed… what would keep the Twins from doing the same thing the Blue Jays did (other than the obvious… an ultra-conservative management team)?

    Do the Twins not have young talent comparable to what the Jays had? I find that hard to believe. Most of the Major League ready players sent to Miami appear to be nothing more than temporary fillers to replace the guys they gave up and only two of the prospects appear to be even potential above-average ballplayers. One of them is a Jake Marisnick, a “five tool” outfielder who’s probably going to repeat AA and the other is lefty starting pitcher Justin Nicolino, who has only had one year of full-season minor league ball. Nicolinao is arguably a better pitching prospect than the Twins have in their pitching-poor organization, but the Twins appear to have several outfielders with greater value than Marisnick.

    Is it a money issue? Let’s put it this way… it probably IS a money issue in that the Twins under current management have never been inclined to take on the kind of salary commitments that Johnson, Buehrle and Reyes represent. However, it SHOULDN’T be a money issue. The Blue Jays had an opening day payroll in the mid 80 millions a year ago, without the benefit of a ballpark like Target Field. They barely cracked the 2 million mark in attendance and even that was about a 10% increase over 2011.

    But here’s the thing. The new national media rights deal for Major League Baseball is going to put something like an additional $25 million in revenue straight in to the pockets of every MLB team starting in 2014. Does that mean that teams like Toronto and Minnesota should just go indiscriminately crazy and overpay a bunch of has-beens and never-weres? Of course it does not. But it should open the door for teams to rethink their past operating models.

    The Twins have historically told the public that their model is to spend about 50% of revenues on their Major League payroll. That goes back all the way through the old Metrodome days when the team had one of the worst revenue streams in MLB and it has continued through the “boom” years of their new ballpark. If they hold to that model, only half of the “new money” from the media deal will see its way in to their payroll budget.

    But why should that be the case? What additional expenses come with that $25 million in additional revenue? Absolutely none. It is simply “found money” that comes with no strings attached and if the Twins have indeed been realizing revenues at twice their MLB payroll, it represents at least a 12.5% increase in revenues! I’m sorry, but I simply can’t buy any excuse that might be proffered for why the team should not sink most, if not all, of that money in to putting a better product on the field.

    But wait… the Jays, while not drawing as many fans as the Twins lately, are at least seeing their attendance rise over the prior year while attendance at Target Field is dropping off dramatically. So shouldn’t the Twins be more conservative? Heck, no!

    Don’t you think the phone lines going in to Toronto’s offices are heating up today with people signing up for 2013 ticket packages? Reasonable debate may be offered as to just how many additional wins the new Blue Jays players can be expected to add to their record, but the Jays front office sent a clear message to their fan base that they intend to get serious about ending their also-ran status in the AL East. I refuse to believe the same wouldn’t be happening at the Target Field offices of the Twins today if it had been Terry Ryan who had pulled off a similar deal yesterday.

    I’m fine being patient for a few more weeks to see what kind of improvements Ryan can make to the Twins roster. After all, even if he did want to follow the Blue Jays’ lead and pull off a similar monster deal, there aren’t many crazy owners like Jeffrey Loria out there. Even the A’s, who can almost annually be counted on to trade away anyone with a pulse, are reportedly looking to add talent this offseason rather than trade away what they have.

    But Twins fans should not have to listen to more crap from the front office about how payroll doesn’t matter and how $85-90 million is more than Terry Ryan ever used to have at his disposal so there’s no reason to spend more than that now. That’s complete and utter bullcrap.

    If the Twins want more people to attend games in 2013 instead of fewer, there’s one way and one way only to accomplish that. It’s not by adding pitching at the expense of having to trade away a number of your best position players and it’s sure as hell not just by adding a drink rail in right field.

    You get more fans at the ballpark and more viewers on television and more sales of your merchandise by making bold moves to improve the crappy product you’ve put on the field for the past two years.

    The Blue Jays finally seem to get that. I’m not sure the Twins ever will.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Should Follow Blue Jays Bold Lead started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      I agree. Morneau, Span, and Willingham should've been moved last trading deadline. I worry that Ryan will move Parmalee instead of Morneau or Willingham. Intercourse the money left of the former's contract. And Willingham is due to regree and/or get injured.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I agree with Jim, they should be willing to do this, but will not do this. I do not for a moment think they'll sign 3 legit free agents. I do not think they'll deal really good/great prospects for MLB players.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      i think the most intriguing thing about this trade might be that new marlins manager, mike redmond, had been managing in toronto's system and might have been personally responsible for many of the prospects miami will receive, both as pieces of the trade and as a minor league manager. i think redmond managed marisnick this season in class A at dunedin of the florida state league. redmond may be sly like columbo, and the owner of the marlins may have just cleaned the canvas for more painting, and not be done...... but jeff loria has done some kinda shady/slanted (expos to mlb/then buying marlins with a loan for the difference from mlb in 2002) dealings in the past. oh, as an aside......... i think it should just be world series championship - not .....ships - , as the first marlin's championship loria was not a part of as owner.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      that's true... technically Loria was only responsible for one post WS championship dismantling, although pretty much the exact same thing happened after first Fish championship under prior ownership.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      I was confused that this was the wrong posting.
      Article: Twins Should Follow Marlins Bold Lead

    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris in Osaka View Post
      I agree. Morneau, Span, and Willingham should've been moved last trading deadline. I worry that Ryan will move Parmalee instead of Morneau or Willingham. Intercourse the money left of the former's contract. And Willingham is due to regree and/or get injured.

      Ummm...I agree with everything you said except intercoursing the money.....
    1. LastOnePicked's Avatar
      LastOnePicked -
      Couldn't agree more. TR has proven that he's only capable of thinking small. For all of the praise he got for signing Willingham and Doumit, we need to keep in mind that the few moves he made last offseason netted the team exactly three wins over their dismal 2011 campaign. The current Twins simply cannot see the big picture, and seem completely adverse to any free-agent risk -- other than their death-by-a-thousand-cuts dabbles in the mlb dumpsters. I doubt TR was even in on any of the trade conversations with Miami. The fans will have to demand change soon.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Toronto was a last place team--but a much better team than the last place Twins. Doesn't Toronto consider all of Canada "local broadcast revenue"--thus not shared with the rest of MLB? If so, that amount could easily dwarf what the Twins collect. Sorry, I don't have a figure for Toronto's local broadcast revenue. I do think that blaming Ryan for the deal between Toronto and Miami is unfair. There may not have ever been any discussion between Minnesota and Miami, or when the terms were "add $35MM/year in payroll...", Ryan's answer was likely "Not permitted."
    1. ssmart's Avatar
      ssmart -
      Agree 100% with J.C.
      Let's give Terry Ryan a little time here. Pitchers and Catchers don't report for 3 months yet.
      Trades are always great fodder for the Hot Stove League. Connie Mack dismantled 2 World Champion teams, in the teens; Frank 'Home Run' Baker, Eddie Collins et al. Then again in the 30's with Jimmy Foxx, 'Lefty' Grove, Al Simmons and others.
      I remember growing up ... Harvey Kuenn for Rocky Colovito ... man I was knocked back on my 10yr. old butt by that one!
      Let's wait a bit to see what TR does.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Toronto was a last place team--but a much better team than the last place Twins. Doesn't Toronto consider all of Canada "local broadcast revenue"--thus not shared with the rest of MLB? If so, that amount could easily dwarf what the Twins collect. Sorry, I don't have a figure for Toronto's local broadcast revenue. I do think that blaming Ryan for the deal between Toronto and Miami is unfair. There may not have ever been any discussion between Minnesota and Miami, or when the terms were "add $35MM/year in payroll...", Ryan's answer was likely "Not permitted."
      The Jays television contract with Sportsnet (also owned by Rogers), essentially makes all of Canada the Jays region.As lucrative as that may sound, it's not, according to the Globe and Mail it netted them $36M last season. Part of the reason for that is that the Jays actually fight for market share with a number of teams outside of Toronto, Manitoba easily has as many Twins fans as Jays fans and the Red Sox are very popular in the Maritimes.

      That and fans being forced to listen to Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler 162 times.

      One other downside of the national agreement is that is makes every Blue Jays game a blackout throughout Canada on MLB.TV.
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      The Jays television contract with Sportsnet (also owned by Rogers), essentially makes all of Canada the Jays region.As lucrative as that may sound, it's not, according to the Globe and Mail it netted them $36M last season.
      If another company owned the Blue Jays that figure would be substantially higher. The Jays are owned by a cable company which owns sports networks in Canada. The 36M is a figure they made up to pay themselves and doesn't reflect the reality of the situation.

      This is from Forbes magazine.

      But Toronto is owned by $14 billion-in-sales Rogers Communications, which also owns sports channels that pump through Blue Jays games as well as those of its other two teams, the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs. The company’s strategy of using sports programming to boost profits has been paying off and shares of Rogers have been outperforming the market recently. On top of the increase in carrier fees Rogers can command from its sports programming, last year Rogers Sportsnet paid the Blue Jays a rights fee of $36 million. So Rogers gets a doubleheader from its sports programming. The Blue Jays have a much larger cable television audience than the Marlins and thus star power on the diamond can translate into much more money from advertisers.

      It does dwarf the twins revenue, the 36 million is a fee they basically pay to themselves and really doesn't represent anything. Rogers Tv network paid Rogers sports team. They could have made the figure higher for example 180 million if they were selling the team to show how much revenue it brings in. So where they make their money is in advertising, cable company carrier fees (from competing cable companies for example Shaw in canada) and shares in the Rogers company. It's a different model.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by robbie111 View Post
      The Jays television contract with Sportsnet (also owned by Rogers), essentially makes all of Canada the Jays region.As lucrative as that may sound, it's not, according to the Globe and Mail it netted them $36M last season.
      If another company owned the Blue Jays that figure would be substantially higher. The Jays are owned by a cable company which owns sports networks in Canada. The 36M is a figure they made up to pay themselves and doesn't reflect the reality of the situation.

      This is from Forbes magazine.

      But Toronto is owned by $14 billion-in-sales Rogers Communications, which also owns sports channels that pump through Blue Jays games as well as those of its other two teams, the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs. The company’s strategy of using sports programming to boost profits has been paying off and shares of Rogers have been outperforming the market recently. On top of the increase in carrier fees Rogers can command from its sports programming, last year Rogers Sportsnet paid the Blue Jays a rights fee of $36 million. So Rogers gets a doubleheader from its sports programming. The Blue Jays have a much larger cable television audience than the Marlins and thus star power on the diamond can translate into much more money from advertisers.

      It does dwarf the twins revenue, the 36 million is a fee they basically pay to themselves and really doesn't represent anything. Rogers Tv network paid Rogers sports team. They could have made the figure higher for example 180 million if they were selling the team to show how much revenue it brings in. So where they make their money is in advertising, cable company carrier fees (from competing cable companies for example Shaw in canada) and shares in the Rogers company. It's a different model.
      Then is it fair to conclude that the Jays "swim in money" and can easily afford to take on the added payroll from the Miami trade?
    1. robbie111's Avatar
      robbie111 -
      If your parent company is making $14 billion in advertising sales I'd say so. Plus the added payroll could easily be negated with increased advertising costs due to an increase in market share expected from the new look Jays. As I mentioned in another thread if they were to add Justin Morneau (Captain Canada in baseball), he alone would probably bring in many new sponsors and advertisers to Rogers Sportsnet and increase views of their games which would boost the ammount they could charge for advertising on their stations. Rogers is also the largest owner of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment which owns the NBA's Toronto Raptors and tried this already with huge money that was offered to lure Steve Nash (Captain Canada of basketball) even though Nash took much less to sign with the Lakers. So anyone who thinks Rogers (Jays owners) wouldn't accept Morneau's contract isn't looking at the big picture.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      The point is that the Twins could do the same thing... they could add players that would generate greater enthusiasm by the fan base and thus with advertisers. But nibbling around the edges of the talent pool won't bring an extra nickel of revenue in. To sell more tickets and advertising, they would need to be bold enough to convince people they're serious about getting back in the hunt this year. That's what the Jays have done and there's no reason the Twins couldn't do the same thing.
    1. Curt's Avatar
      Curt -
      "The Twins have historically told the public that their model is to spend about 50% of revenues on their Major League payroll. That goes back all the way through the old Metrodome days when the team had one of the worst revenue streams in MLB and it has continued through the “boom” years of their new ballpark. If they hold to that model, only half of the “new money” from the media deal will see its way in to their payroll budget.

      But why should that be the case? What additional expenses come with that $25 million in additional revenue? Absolutely none. It is simply “found money” that comes with no strings attached"

      Exactly. There is no reason an increase in revenue should equate to an increase in operating expenses. I always thought that way with the new stadium revenue. Does it cost more to operate from the new stadium? I doubt it. But you have found the perfect example. There is NO WAY that getting additional TV money increases costs.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I've been posting for two years that the "52 percent of revenue to payroll" model of the metrodome no longer made sense. I'm sure there are added expenses to running TF, but nowhere near the added revenue.

      Most of their other-than-Payroll expenses--minor leagues, travel costs, spring training, other salaries, etc--didn't change.

      The only thing that makes sense is, they're using that extra revenue to pay for their share of building the stadium. The Pohlads promised to contribute their own money, but aren't actually contributing a penny. The borrowed the money, and are paying it off from stadium. The state, taxpayers, and those who attend games are, in effect, paying 100 percent of the cost of TF.

      And that's why the Twins don't have a $125m payroll, which they could, if the Pohlads were contributing to stadium construction costs, as they promised to do.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I would imagine there are also differences between the Twins being recipients of revenue sharing dollars while playing at the Dome and being contributors of revenue sharing dollars at TF, but because the Twins are uber-secretive about their finances, we'll never know. And as long as they're unwilling to share even the broadest levels of information about their revenues and expenses, as far as I'm concerned, they're fair game for critical speculation as long as they continue to try to pawn off a crappy product on the field to their fans as being Major League Baseball. If they put a high quality product on the field, I don't give a damn how much money they line their own pockets with.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      No the Twins shouldn't follow the Blue Jays Bold league, taking on one awful contract and another huge contract that most likely will be bad is not a good way to run a team, it will fail for the Dodgers and it will fail for the Blue Jays long term.

      Holy hell you would think the Blue Jays learned their lesson after Rios and Wells, but nope!!
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Well the Twins would have to find another Marlins-esque team willing to just give immense talent away for a very questionable return. So . . . no one else is going to do that. The Marlins organization is just barbaric!
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by robbie111 View Post
      The Jays television contract with Sportsnet (also owned by Rogers), essentially makes all of Canada the Jays region.As lucrative as that may sound, it's not, according to the Globe and Mail it netted them $36M last season.
      If another company owned the Blue Jays that figure would be substantially higher. The Jays are owned by a cable company which owns sports networks in Canada. The 36M is a figure they made up to pay themselves and doesn't reflect the reality of the situation.

      This is from Forbes magazine.

      But Toronto is owned by $14 billion-in-sales Rogers Communications, which also owns sports channels that pump through Blue Jays games as well as those of its other two teams, the NBA’s Raptors and NHL’s Maple Leafs. The company’s strategy of using sports programming to boost profits has been paying off and shares of Rogers have been outperforming the market recently. On top of the increase in carrier fees Rogers can command from its sports programming, last year Rogers Sportsnet paid the Blue Jays a rights fee of $36 million. So Rogers gets a doubleheader from its sports programming. The Blue Jays have a much larger cable television audience than the Marlins and thus star power on the diamond can translate into much more money from advertisers.

      It does dwarf the twins revenue, the 36 million is a fee they basically pay to themselves and really doesn't represent anything. Rogers Tv network paid Rogers sports team. They could have made the figure higher for example 180 million if they were selling the team to show how much revenue it brings in. So where they make their money is in advertising, cable company carrier fees (from competing cable companies for example Shaw in canada) and shares in the Rogers company. It's a different model.

      You're just talking about Rogers, not the Blue Jays. The Pohlads also make a tonne more money from avenues other than the Twins, it doesn't all funnel back to the team, unless they want it to.

      Rogers is a massive communications corporation, it's wireless communications division is the reason for it's increased share price, which brings in over 3 times the amount of it's cable operations. They are not the major shareholder in the MLSE, they own 37.5% of it, so does Bell Canada while Kilmer Sports own 25%, none of which has anything to do with the Blue Jays anyway, it's just one of their many assets.

      Do they undervalue broadcast rights? Sure they do, so they can increase profit from ad revenue, again nothing to do with the Jays. In fact, part of this spending spree has more to do with the 25 million they are getting from MLB than anything. As opposed to the Twins, the Jays are blowing the wad on payroll, it's free money for them.

      Sorry, if someone was to buy the Blue Jays and Rogers told them the broadcast rights were worth 180 million, I want to meet that guy, I have a Ford Focus he can buy for 3 million.

      Finally and most importantly, Rogers is a publicly traded company, they can't simply put whatever they want into a baseball team just because they want to, not without their shareholders revolting on them anyway. They are committing more money to the team, I'll concede that but at great risk if it does not work out, if this team does not perform to expectation and bring in the expected increase in revenue through a more attractive product, there is going to be some pretty unhappy wireless investors.
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