By Mike Steffanos
One thing that we heard repeatedly was that the previous version of revenue-sharing in major league baseball actually discouraged struggling small-market teams like the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates from trying to become more competitive. Large-market teams such as the Mets watched as their revenue-sharing dollars were pocketed by the ownership of clubs like Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Kansas City with no appreciable effect on the product they put on the field. It was a given that a revised version of this system would have to give these teams more incentive to take this money and spend it where it was intended.
At CNNMoney.com, Chris Isidore writes that the new agreement finally does indeed removes the disincentive for small market teams to use revenue-sharing dollars to actually improve their franchise:
In the past few labor agreements, teams had to put a share of their ticket sales and local broadcast deals into a pool to be split with the other teams. What that did was reduce teams' incentive to go out and spend money that might be needed to improve the team's popularity, and hence, its revenue.
Now, according to Rob Manfred, the owners' chief labor negotiator, teams that generate better revenue growth than the rest of the league will get to keep all of that additional money - the most powerful incentive possible to bring fans, and their dollars, into the game.
On The Biz of Baseball web site, Maury Brown goes into this further:
... if you're a club, and you're better at growing your revenues than the league, then the tax hurts less. On the other hand, if you're sucking wind compared to the other clubs in terms of revenue growth, then the tax eats up a larger percentage of your revenue. It's a chance for you to not only keep up with the Joneses, but it incentivizes you to work to kick their rears in the revenue growth department.
Yes, you still will have to pay a 31% tax on marginal income, but if you're outpacing the league in revenue growth, then your split-pool contribution should become less and less of a factor. Yes, your straight pool tax goes up, but it goes up by a lot less than it did before. Plus, under the previous system you'd get hit with more taxes for making more money on your split-pool component.
What these changes from the prior revenue sharing plan to the new should do is establish healthier incentives to encourage clubs that are receiving revenue sharing to spend them on growing revenue. As part of growing revenues, you would place hiring better players to increase your winning percentage at the top of your list. With clubs investing in themselves this way, you should theoretically promote competitive balance. At least, that's the plan. With this many moving parts, there are bound to be places where unintended consequences will arise.
As a fan of a team in a large market, my concern has been and will continue to be that I don't feel it is fair to ask me to pay higher prices in order to subsidize baseball in smaller markets. Although to an extent this in inevitable under any revenue-sharing system, the new system seems to do a better job of forcing some of the have-nots to at least make an effort to generate more local income. We'll keep an eye on it to see if it has the desired effect. As Brown points out, anything as complicate as this agreement is bound to have unintended consequences.
Hot Stove Tidbits:
Newsday: Lobbying for a bigger payday
Although it's generally known that Jason Schmidt would like to stay on the west coast, his agent tells Ken Davidoff:
I think it's real accurate to say that geography is not going to eliminate anybody. That's a safe thing to say. We talked to [Schmidt] about it. Just because a team is in a location is not going to take them out of the race.
I would imagine at least that it would take a more money and possibly an extra year to get Schmidt to come here. I see him as a pitcher on the decline, and I'd be very leery of giving him too much.
New York Post: Adam Kennedy
Speaking of lobbying, Adam Kennedy's agent tells the Post's Mark Hale tha this client has "definite interest" in signing with the Mets. I know I don't get a vote, but I'd pass. Kennedy is just okay both offensively and defensively. I'd rather see the Mets find a decent right-handed 2B to platoon with Jose Valentin.
Hale also mentions Rich Aurilia, who is a much more attractive offensive player, but at 35-years-old would be very risky to sign for more than 1 year. Julio Lugo would be interesting, although after seeing him in the division series against the Dodgers it's painfully obvious he has a lot of work to do to become a decent 2B.
New York Times: Sounds like a plan
Ben Shpigel does a good job of presenting an overview of the off-season.
Hot Foot: Soriano
Hot Foot cites a Washington Post article that Alfonso Soriano is seeking a contract similar to the 7-year, $119 million one that Beltran signed. This is pretty much what I expected, and why I consider the chances of Soriano wearing a Mets uniform next year extremely remote.
ESPN: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Sean McAdam profiles the Japanese pitcher, and tells us that he may not sign with any US team this season.