Planning To Fail: The Royals, Pirates, Marlins (and others)

But the second requirement is potentially more meaningful: each recipient team must “report on the performance-related uses to which it put its revenue sharing receipts in the preceding Revenue Sharing Year“. In other words, on April 1 each of these poor teams must submit a plan to improve its on the field performance.

Here is an opening to have a bit of fun. Post what YOU think some of these plans might say. For example:

Kansas City Royals: Seven words: Gilbert Meche. Five Years. $55 million.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Who can question our on-field performance? Jack Wilson, Xavier Nady, Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez. At every trading deadline, teams line up to buy our on-field performers.

Florida Marlins: We’ll pocket our revenue sharing. As always. We’re the most profitable team in baseball. I don’t know what kind of performance YOU’RE talking about, but …

Seriously, folks. If you were a fan of one of these teams, wouldn’t YOU want to know what plan your team has in mind?

So we come to the heart of the problem with revenue sharing. These reports are sitting in a file in some MLB office, gathering dust. We can’t see these reports. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) can see these reports, but they’re not permitted to disclose their contents.

Actually, the MLBPA is one of the villains in this piece. As reported in The Biz of Baseball, the MLBPA has the power to file a grievance if they feel a team is not living up to its revenue-sharing obligations. The MLBPA has never done so.

To my view, any effort to improve revenue sharing must begin with these secret plans for on the field improvements. If these plans are sound, but teams lack the money to implement their plans, then let’s increase the funding available through revenue sharing. If the plans are sound but teams are failing to implement their own plans, then let’s get MLB and the MLBPA to take the necessary steps to enforce these plans.

But what if the plans themselves are no good? What if they’re vague, poorly thought out, lack benchmarks, and fail to provide for any sort of accountability? Sure, my guess is that the Twins and the A’s have good plans in place. But I suspect that most teams purposely draft plans without specifics, to make it impossible for people like us to determine whether the plan was carried out. I bet that most of these plans were drafted by lawyers (like me), and not by baseball professionals.

So, here is my challenge to any team lobbying for more revenue sharing:

You want more money? Show us your plan.

7 thoughts on “Planning To Fail: The Royals, Pirates, Marlins (and others)

  1. Kansas City Royals — Give us money, and we use it on new Yunis.

    Anyway, I like the idea, but who would get to evaluate and judge these plans? A third person might be the best choice as the MLBPA and Selig have their inclinations, but who would it be?

    Also, I'd wait to be too harsh on the Pirates … for now. Yes, they have the lowest payroll in baseball, but it's part of an actual plan. They've stripped the team down and have gone with young players while not giving away ridiculous amounts of money to free-agents. The trick for them is to look a few years down the road and see if they lock up the Andrew McCutcheons and Pedro Alvarezes while taking a swing or two at free-agency. Unfortunately, we aren't privy to that information, and getting them to show someone might make them more accountable.

  2. This is exactly why Bud needs to go and the next commissioner needs to be an impartial person to the game, so that Bud's buddies don't get to buy franchises and milk the league without doing something in return.

    For what it's worth, if you're going to pick on the Royals, try Guillen's contract instead of Meche's.  Meche has actually been very effective for the Royals and worth the money spent. It's the only good move Moore has made.

  3. Ron, I guess I should have looked past last year's statistics, though I still think that Meche is not where I would personally invest 33% of my pitching payroll.  But OUCH, you're oh so right about Guillen.

    Mark, I don't mean to pick on the Pirates, or at least, I mean to pick on as many teams as possible, including the Pirates.  At the moment, I'm not thinking about the fine points of plan evaluation.  Mostly, I'm marveling at the thought that these plans exist.  

    If we're going to change revenue sharing, I'd like to evaluate the existing system first.  What has the existing system accomplished, and where has it fallen short?  Moreover, what would the "poor" teams do with additional money?  Review of these plans would go a long way towards answering both questions.

  4. Fair enough, from that point of view.

    Good questions on the revenue sharing, particularly since teams like the Royals and Pirates spend less on payroll than what they recieve.

    I would like to see a rule that says the revenue sharing recieved has to be a percentage of the payroll, say 75%.  If they recieve $60 mil, then the payroll has to be a minimum of $80 mil.  For every dollar below, they have to give money back.

    And while the player's associaiton (no caps is inentional) shouldn't have any reason to complain, I'll bet they would.

  5. Ron, keep an eye on this space.  We are going to fix revenue sharing.  Hopefully by the all star break.

    I'm not sold on the idea that revenue sharing $$ is always best spent on a team's major league payroll.  For example, I'm fine with the idea of Cincinnati using revenue sharing to sign Aroldis Chapman.  Heck.  If the Marlins figure that a $5 million sushi bar would put bodies in the seats and boost revenue, that might be OK with me too.  I simply want to see revenue sharing money being spent (or invested) per a plan to improve on the field performance … and I want to see the revenue sharing system include a measure of accountability.

  6. I definitely agree with you Larry. Most of the focus is on the major-league payroll, but I think the teams with these issues should actually spend it elsewhere. Forcing them to spend on the MLB roster might force them to sign bad free-agents, which puts them back a few years. If it means spending an extra $5 MM on getting better prospects (internationally or over-slot in the draft), then I'm all for it. It's a better investment of their money. Once those prospects start panning out, the teams should then start moving some of the money toward the MLB roster. That's where I think the Marlins have failed in some ways. They've had some really good young players, but they haven't really invested in them.

  7. Mark, I agree.  I'm thinking about whether revenue sharing might be changed to encourage teams to keep existing players (sort of the way the "soft cap" works in the NBA).   This might cause the "poor" teams to keep the players they develop.  But I haven't come up with a practical way to make this work.  Also, if we encourage a team to resign its own free agents, is this any better than "forcing" them to sign someone else's free agents?

    In my mind, all ideas are on the table for consideration, including the "Ron" plan for a minimum percentage of revenue sharing to be allocated to payroll.