If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you read USA Today baseball writer Jorge Ortiz’s team capsule of the A’s. And I mean read all of it. There are some choice quotes from Billy Beane, like this one on trading Cahill/Gio/Bailey:
“We’re not doing it to be mean,” says Beane, aware of the trades’ impact on the team and its shrinking fan base. “It’s not like I come into this office like I just jumped off the stage of Wicked with a green-painted face and go, ‘How can I trade my guys?’ We do it because we have no other choice.”
Cue someone in the RF bleachers pasting a giant, green-tinted, smiling Beane face on Elphaba. Or maybe Brad Pitt’s face? It’s hard to tell them apart these days.
Then there’s ESPN Magazine cover boy Brandon McCarthy, who may have displayed a little too much of his trademark candor when he said this about how the A’s operate:
“It makes team-building and the competitive aspect that much harder here,” says right-hander Brandon McCarthy, the A’s likely opening-day starter. “It’s not even being a small-market team. It’s being a dead-market team.”
Later in the article, Wolff provides two crucial pieces of information that I had not known previously.
- Moving the team to San Jose should increase revenue $80-100 million annually.
- The TV rights deal with CSN California runs 25 years with an opt-out at 15 (2024).
In last October’s post titled “$230,000,000“, I attempted to estimate what the A’s revenue model could look like if they moved into Cisco Field in 2015. I figured it would be $64 million more than they get currently. Clearly, Lew Wolff is aiming higher, though he may be using a lower 2010-11 revenue estimate of $150 million or thereabouts to make the comparison (which would fall in line with a +80 million target). In any case, he and the rest of the business side seem to have a pretty good idea of where they’re going.
The A’s TV rights deal with Comcast, which unlike most other recently negotiated team TV deals, did not have its numbers or length revealed, is of similar length to others negotiated by the Rangers, Angels, Astros, and Mariners. I hope the deal isn’t a flat, non-escalating deal, because if it is the A’s will surely be forgoing revenue during what should be considered their competitive window from 2015 through 2020 and beyond. The flipside of that is that at least it’s comforting to know that the A’s are locked in somewhere for at least 15 years. That’s a lot of time to build brand equity, and it’s a damn sight better than the broadcast musical chairs the A’s had to deal with during the pre-cable days.
I had theorized that the A’s were getting $15 million per year via their cable deal, though I’ve been too lazy to actually verify this. Based on the actual revenue the A’s report or the Forbes reported figures, I can’t see how it’d be much higher than $20 million. Either number is a pittance compared to what the division foes are getting, and will be even less competitive once the M’s negotiate a new deal in the near future. While the A’s can’t control what other teams get and appear to be locked in with CSNCA, they should at the very least have the opportunity to get the $80-100 million Wolff claims he can get via a new ballpark. Because if he can’t, Brandon McCarthy will be more correct than anyone would’ve had the temerity to suggest. For all intents and purposes, the A’s will be in a dead market. Or as he said towards the end of the article:
“It’s a major issue,” says McCarthy, who also has pitched for the Rangers and Chicago White Sox. “I think it’s one of those things that’s crippling this franchise. I’ve never seen anything like this where something like that could just become the rolling avalanche of things not being the way they should. A decision has to come.”
No fan wants to hear this type of thing, whether they’re in Oakland, San Jose, or Springfield. It belies the optimism that spring should bring. But whether you believe McCarthy is simply regurgitating the team line or he’s a blunt, independent thinker as he’s repeatedly shown, he’s right. Something needs to happen. Hopefully McCarthy will stay healthy enough to get a nice payday next year, even if it isn’t with the A’s.