Save the Endangered Fan Post! ONLY YOU can keep it from extinction.
Andrew_g’s piece yesterday on the O’s ‘extra 2%’ returned me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I love to bash Peter Angelos as much as anyone, but whenever I have someone I like to bash my better nature asks “Could you really do better?” Even in an egregious case like PA’s, I’m never sure I could. I’m less well informed than most people. I have less native intelligence. I’m less quick thinking and have less reliable instincts. I don’t have a history of especially prudent purchasing. I don’t have particularly good luck. It’s true, I’m heart-breakingly lovely to gaze upon, but I think that quality in a baseball owner, plus the ridiculous wealth I’m imagining for the scenario, might not be enough.
I’d need a basic instruction sheet to make it work. So what would be on it? It seems like it would have 3 basic pieces. Determine the budget. Make the commitment. Execute the budget fully.
Step 1: Determine the budget
Do this by establishing simple benchmarks for each component.
MLB salary: Given zk’s post (here) about the correlation between the top spending and the top performers, set a number in the top ten spenders in the league. Balancing 8 slots in the post-season against trying to keep the cost somewhat reasonable and build in incentive for efficiency, take the last year’s #8 figure, mark it up it by the CPI and this is the budget.
Draft funds: Identify the budget from a successful draft year (say, the Matt Weiters year), mark it up for inflation too and this is the budget.
Scouting & development: Prior year’s budget plus 2%. This is so that if andrew_g accepts my offer to work in the front office, I can say “See? There, at least, is an extra 2%.” Front office offers will be tendered to regular CC-ers who are willing to say goodbye to their day jobs, btw.
Step 2: Make the commitment.
Compare the resulting budget to the revenue stream and see if it allows for some profit or a loss small enough that I’m willing to pay that much to play with my toy ballclub. If not, I sell the team. If so, I commit to spending this amount in full every year for 12 years and never looking back.
Step 3: Execute the budget fully.
Establish the principle that every dollar of this budget will be spent in a cascading fashion. The GM should spend available MLB salary dollars on FA acquisitions that make sense up to and never exceeding the limit. The emphasis should be on making sense, not on the limit being unmet. Any MLB salary dollars that are unspent will be made available to the next draft. Money will NEVER go the other way (no robbing the draft to buy a FA). This will resolve the verifiable fungibility question as a matter of policy, though we’ll still say ‘fungible’ a lot around the FO because it’s a fun word to say.
In turn, any draft funds not spent on the current year draft would roll down to scouting & development to be spent in full. A high profile draftee doesn’t sign, make a major new investment. Adam Loewen goes back for another year of JC, so you open an academy in Venezuela. A lower dollar draftee decides to take up real estate instead, you put another scout on the ground in Japan or Korea. But every dollar not invested in the visible structure of players is pumped into strengthening the foundation.
With these policies in place, I hire a GM for (barring genuine incompetence) 4 year terms like the president. I then retire to my sky box and leave all other personnel & baseball decisions to her. The only limit on her personnel control is that initial CC hires into the FO will require my approval to be fired. I’ll still can your asses if the team has been losing, but I’ll make sure it’s done with love.
What do you think? Could such a plan work, if someone rich were willing to implement it? Would it be better than the ownership styles we see today around the league?