Through uncertain, back-channel means, Deadspin got its hands on some financial documents running down the sundry incomes and expenditures of a number of Major League Baseball teams. And, Monday morning, they were posted online, in two parts:
Part 1: 2007 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008 LAnaheim Angels, 2009 LAnaheim Angels, 2008 Florida Marlins, 2009 Florida Marlins, 2007 Tampa Bay Rays, 2008 Tampa Bay Rays
Part 2: 2007 Seattle Mariners, 2008 Seattle Mariners
Ordinarily, this sort of stuff wouldn't sound very interesting. But the information contained herein never sees the light of day, with teams generally exercising their right to keep it to themselves, so that changes the picture, as boring + secret = intrigue. Let's follow along with Maury Brown as he breaks down some of what we find!
We've got information covering two consecutive seasons for five teams, and of those teams, the Mariners come out on top in broadcasting revenue, pulling in four times more than the Marlins and five times more than the Rays. Interestingly, the Angels and Pirates are just about tied, suggesting that team success doesn't play a huge role, here.
I think everyone who's ever spent $15 on a beer and a shallow plate of nachos has figured that the teams must make a killing from the concession stands. Turns out that isn't really true. I mean, the money most definitely isn't negligible, but it's small relative to most everything else. The Angels did well, here, which you'd expect, since the Angels tend to pull in big crowds, and more people in the seats means more people buying snacks. The Marlins, however, get a double whammy - low attendance, and attendees who spend the least. The Marlins spent more on Jorge Cantu in 2009 than they earned from concessions.
Low-payroll teams earn money through revenue sharing, and some of the revenue sharing money goes towards player development, so of our five, we see the Marlins spending nearly twice as much as the Mariners and Angels on the system. Of the $60 million they spent on player development between 2008-2009, roughly $11.5 million went to player bonuses.
The Angels and Mariners have been high-payroll teams, so they've been revenue sharing payors. The Rays, Marlins, and Pirates have been low-payroll teams, so they've been revenue sharing payees. The Marlins pulled in more than $90 million over the two years covered, while the Angels paid out more than $30 million.
And this is the big one. When fans show an interest in team finance, what they really care about is the bottom line. Organizations and owners are often accused of spending less than they can on the team so as to line their own pockets, and here, we get a window (albeit a limited one) into how things have actually gone. Results? Of the ten individual seasons covered by the documents, nine were profitable, with only the 2008 Mariners taking a loss. Seven of the ten seasons resulted in income in the ~$11 - 16 million range. The 2007 Rays came away nearly $22 million in the black. And, head and shoulders above the rest, we see the 2008 Marlins, at +$39 million. This figure should only fuel further speculation and accusations along the following lines:
It's interesting to see how these figures match up with those calculated by Forbes. Looking at the 2008 season numbers:
I'm not sure how Forbes comes up with their numbers, but you can see two notable discrepancies in there, as the Mariners and Rays came out well below what Forbes had reported.
Anyhoo, as with any release of previously unseen legal documents, there is a ton of stuff in here, and while we've hit on some of the big things, there's plenty more to digest. When you get a few minutes, or a few weeks, you might want to dive in and see what else you can find. Do you know how much the 2009 Florida Marlins spent on furniture and computer equipment? Because I do, now, and I assure you I'm a better person for it.