BS Report: February 20th
Last week Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos did an extended interview with two reporters with the Athletic. They did it to answer criticism about the limited activity from the team this offseason. To quote Anthopoulos, who said this on a podcast earlier this week, “That really went over well.” He was being sarcastic. It did not go over well. The fans did not buy it. This is McGuirk’s fault. He’s the one that said no team would have more funds to improve their team with this offseason than the Braves. He said Anthopoulous could shop in any aisle. Well, we just didn’t know that aisle would be at the Dollar General. Since signing Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann in late November – almost three months ago – the Braves have done nothing. And, we can count. The payroll is right around $115 million right now. Anthopoulos said the other day they were over $120 million, so he must be counting the money still being paid to Bruce Sutter from 30 years ago. The Braves say they ended at $126 million last year. They have said it will go up this year. So, even thinking they may be around $140 million, they should have $20-$25 million left to spend. Anthopoulos wants to keep some money available for potential in-season deals, and that’s understandable. But $20 or $25 million? — The problem with this is the new stadium – SunTrust Park – has produced unbelievable revenues. They built the new stadium mainly because for some reason the Braves have a horrible local TV contract that pays them only around $25 million per year. To compare, the Padres, who are going to spend $300 million over the next 10 years to supplement their great farm system with Manny Machado, receive $60 million per year. The Rays, one of the least valuable franchises in the sports, get $82 million per year. The Phillies, who might now sign Bryce Harper, get $200 million per year. So, the Braves thought they’d build the new stadium, increase revenues so they can compete with these other teams for talent. And it has worked. The revenues have been unreal at Sun Trust Park. In the first year of the new stadium 2017, the revenues were up $124 million from the last year at Turner Field. Through the first nine months of last year, the revenue went from $386 million in 2017 to $400 million – with the final three months still yet to be reported. They are making money. But is that money being put in the payroll? Is it helping to get more talent? –- That’s where McGuirk is not convincing anyone. Fans are afraid those profits are being shipped to Colorado to the corporate owner – Liberty Media. Instead, the Braves need to take some of that available money and spend it on a closer. They need a closer. And Craig Kimbrel, one of the best in the game, is out there as a free agent. The Braves have said they don’t want to give out a long-term contract. Okay, offer Kimbrel three years plus an option. He’s the best closer in the game. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be in Cooperstown one day. And we know this guy. There is no way anyone can convince me the Braves are not better with Craig Kimbrel on the roster – both for 2019 and for the next several years. He will make this team much better, and the Braves need to sign him. Why wait until you need a closer in July and then regret not signing Kimbrel now when he can help the entire season? The Braves need to spend the money they have available – not to just spend money – but to make this team a better contender for this year. If that happens, even if the players fail, the fans won’t ask many questions. But if you sit on that money and the Braves struggle, the Battery won’t be full this summer.