25 September 2007

Act locally then globally

An article in this week's Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal (by Lindsay Riddell) covers the A's business side of the house from a different angle: opportunities abroad. The premise is that while Moneyball keeps the ship running lean and mean, the lack of high-profile players limits potential advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

The first step towards getting high-priced free agents, especially from Japan, is to get on a better financial footing with a new ballpark. Revenues should rise appreciably from current levels for Billy Beane to go after one or more international stars (Beane's somewhat spotty results with big ticket free agents notwithstanding). We can only speculate as to how much, and even team officials admit that they're not going to reach Yankee heights anytime soon.

However, this is an interesting opportunity to open a dialog with fans, especially sabremetric nuts who go ga-ga over measuring value and efficiency. Surely the team's already come up with certain projections about what their payrolls would be leading up the opening of Cisco Field and beyond. That's not to say they should share all of this info with the fans, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to throw fans a bone about what to expect.

For instance, how about a pledge? Again, no specific numbers. We don't know if this year's $80 million payroll translates to $100 million or $120 million in 5 years. However, everyone would be well served by something along the lines of this:
The A's will maintain a payroll similar to the other AL West teams.
The other three teams have payrolls 20-30% higher than the A's, so a pretty sizable bump would be required to get to their level. I've run a couple of models and think that this is doable even without constant sellouts thanks to the way the deal will probably be structured and MLB's revenue sharing rules. So why not at some point throw the fans that bone? It'll make the whole concept easier to swallow for the hardcore fan.