Mark Purdy takes all of the stuff we’ve learned over the past couple of weeks and neatly summarizes it, with a few more tidbits thrown in for good measure.
- The January owners meetings will by January 11-12.
- Lew Wolff says that he has not been any discussions about selling the team.
- San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed craps all over Oakland’s plans (such as they are).
I get the feeling that a lot of San Jose boosters are very excited this holiday season. Their gift will have to wait until after the New Year.
Updated 11/22 1:30 AM – Susan Slusser also adds to the story, describing Wolff’s trip to Scottsdale to meet with Selig two weeks ago. This time, Billy Beane was reportedly on board. Here’s the sure-to-be-controversial bit:
Oakland lost money last season for the first time this century, with an expected shortfall of several million dollars, according to Beane. The team is consistently a recipient of $20 million or more in revenue sharing, and Oakland’s attendance actually went up in 2011, but the payroll also went up $15 million, from $52 million to $67 million.
In past years, when the A’s were clearly out of contention close to the non-waiver trade deadline, the team’s modus operandi was often to sell off players. Part of the reasoning was to get young players (probably with little-to-no service time), part of it was to dump salary. 2011 was different in that despite the team was mired near the cellar for much of the second half, yet Beane and David Forst did not sell off Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, or any of the starting staff. The only notable trades were of Brad Ziegler and Mark Ellis, and in Ellis’s situation the A’s actually sent the Rockies a little cash to make the deal work. While it would make sense to hold onto Willingham if they weren’t receiving anything they wanted in trade, if they held on they’d potentially get a first round or sandwich pick as compensation when some other team signed Willingham.
By not trading any of the veteran free-agent-to-be outfielders (Willingham, Crisp, Matsui), the A’s kept $3-6 million on the payroll. That’s probably the difference between breaking even and losing money in 2011, if Beane is to be believed. Keep in mind how this works from an accounting standpoint: unlike moneymaking teams who get virtually all of their revenues either in advance or throughout the course of the season, the A’s revenue sharing check only comes in December, well after the season is over. They and the other have-not teams don’t consider the revenue sharing receipt as part of their P&L because it’s not there when it can make a big impact. (No, the check is not going to impress Scott Boras if Beane calls about Prince Fielder.) On the other hand, it has a short-term turbo-boost effect on teams that recently opened or are about to open new ballparks, since those teams can get both the receipt for the past season and higher projected revenues for the first season in the new park.
Did Beane and Wolff hold onto to the outfielders in order to prove a point to Selig and MLB? That the M.O. of the past decade(s) was untenable in the long run, while bucking the trend doesn’t work in the short term? Surely they must have realized that Type B compensation was going away – it was talked about throughout the season – so why keep David DeJesus? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this was planned, given the current spending freeze until a resolution to the stadium problem is found. It reminds me of that silly fake-to-third-throw/fake-to-first play. It’s plainly obvious what’s happening and it elicits a chorus of boos. Once in a while it actually works.