Sooner or later, it all comes down to money

The Indians’ $81.6 million payroll on Opening Day was the 14th-highest in all of baseball.

No, that’s not a Yankee-like ranking, or anything close to it, but it was a reasonable investment on the part of ownership in a team that the front office sold as a contender.

money.jpgProjected attendance for this season was around 2.2 million. And even if the Indians had met those projections, the Dolan family knew it had the potential to lose money, unless the team reached the postseason and generated additional attendance and revenue.

Well, you know what happened next. The Indians had their worst first half since 1991. What’s more, hardly anyone came to witness it. Attendance has declined about 18 percent from last year — and last year was hardly anything to get excited about, either. The Indians now hope to draw 1.8 million, when all is said and done, but don’t bet on it.

Now that the Indians have drastically slashed payroll for 2010, some fans are in an uproar. But as Joel Hammond of Crain’s Cleveland Business explains in a pretty rational take, in what other business are owners expected to spend freely, even as their customers and revenue sources stop supporting them?

This is a vicious cycle, and it’s going to be difficult for the Indians to overcome it in this market and in a sport without a salary cap.

A friend of mine recently wrote in, saying, “One reality is that this town can reasonably support about two and a half teams, not three. For whatever social reasons, the Browns are No. 1 and apparently always will be. The Cavs, because they have LeBron and are a contender, are No. 2. That leaves the ever-shrinking population with ever-shrinking disposable income to spend money on the Indians.”

Hard to argue that. This is a fair-weather baseball town (loyal readers of this blog are, of course, exempted from that statement, because, let’s face it, if you’re reading this at this point of the season, you’re no fair-weather follower of the Tribe).

Fans pack Progressive Field (yes, the naming rights were sold, because, in a market like this, you must chase every source of revenue available to you) when the team contends. But even if this club put together a sustained run of contention right now, the sellout streak of the 1990s will never come close to being matched. Ever. It’s a different economy and a different professional sports climate in this city.

The Dolans have given Mark Shapiro and his staff limited financial resources to work with in the pricey free-agent market (which, again, is made all the more challenging by the lack of a salary cap), and that has led to Shapiro and company getting involved with the David Delluccis and Carl Pavanos of the world, rather than the big names that make fans salivate.

That’s what the most vocal of fans tend to focus on when discussing (or simply ranting about) the Dolans. They pay no mind to the fact that ownership has invested heavily into the Minor League system, the Spring Training complex that the front office deemed pivotal to success and, above all else, the “championship core” recommended by their baseball people. In the first half of the 2007 season alone, the Dolans, upon recommendation from the front office, committed more than $100 million to Jake Westbrook and Travis Hafner. Over the winter, again upon recommendation from the front office, they committed more than $30 million to Kerry Wood (counting his 2011 option, which now doesn’t look likely to vest anytime soon). Even Masa Kobayashi somehow got his hands on $6 million.

So it’s not as if the Dolans didn’t spend. It’s that the money they’ve committed to payroll has too often either not been spent wisely or has gone to players who ended up injured or ineffective.

Now, the payroll is getting scaled back, drastically. Call it a rebuild. Call it a reload (that’s the term Shapiro is using). Call it whatever you want. But it’s definitely a step back. The players brought in via trade and the core that is now made up of the likes of Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera will determine how far back a step that is. Crazy things happen in baseball, and a run at contention in 2010 is not out of the question. Again, though, don’t bet on it.

What you can bet on is this vicious cycle continuing. Unless the Indians field a contender (or are somehow able to schedule 81 Friday fireworks nights each season), the crowds will be small. Unless the fans show up, the Indians will never possess anything more than a middle-of-the-pack payroll, at best.

That’s why last week’s purge took place. With its financial hands tied, the front office sold off some of its most valuable assets in exchange for some younger, more affordable commodities that may or may not pan out in the seasons to come.

Meanwhile, in Berea yesterday, Cleveland’s NFL entry began training camp in preparation for a 6-10 season in which the fans will come out in droves.

That’s life in Browns Town.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • CC Sabathia on the Tribe’s recent moves: “I think it’s sad. It’s just one of those things. We all came up together, and it’s kind of like our era of that team is gone. It’s just crazy.”
  • Tigers manager Jim Leyland on the current Tribe: “I think the Indians are going to be a nightmare for a lot of teams in the second half of the season. I think they’re going to be a nightmare for people because they’re going to be looking at arms like [Justin] Masterson, and I think they’re going to get some hungry guys that are going to get a chance to play that are going to want to make a good impression. They’re going to be busting their tail. I think they have a chance to be a nightmare for people in the second half.”
  • Jhonny Peralta has 15 RBIs over his last seven games and is first in the AL in second-half RBIs, with 17. He’s batting .400 (18-for-47) with nine runs scored, three homers and 17 RBIs over his last 10 games.
  • Obviously, Peralta has been a target of Eric Wedge’s criticism quite a bit in the past, including earlier this season. Peralta was asked what he thinks about playing for Wedge. “I don’t try to say nothing wrong about him,” Peralta said. “He manages how he manages, and I play how I play. Maybe we’re different. More than anything, he wants to help. When he sees I don’t do good, he gets frustrated with me. But there’s nothing bad I can say about him.”
  • I’ve got a Juan Lara update for you. About 21 months removed from a life-threatening car accident, he’s made nine appearances thus far for the Indians’ rookie-level team in Arizona, posting a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings. He’s struck out 17 and walked a pair. “He ebbs and flows with his ability to maintain that velocity,” farm director Ross Atkins said. “He’s coming back from a very intense transition, and his body is not completely his yet. But he’s really been competitive. He’s still a longshot [to one day return to the big leagues], but he’s legitimately making us believe there is a chance.”
  • Keep in mind that Lara is playing alongside a bunch of 18 year olds who really have no idea who he is. But in his first appearance, he received a standing ovation from both the Indians’ team and the opposition.
  • Today is Grady Sizemore’s 27th birthday. Even when you take into account his injury affected 2009 season, what Sizemore has done by the age of 27 is impressive. He’s a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, one-time Silver Slugger winner who has averaged an .849 OPS, 39 doubles, eight triples, 27 homers, 85 RBIs and 27 stolen bases per season.
  • I loved this quote from Wyatt Toregas about his first Major League hit last night: “My legs were shaking, and I couldn’t even feel myself at the plate. Somehow, I got a hit. I don’t know how I did it.”
  • Get used to those “first Major League experience” quotes. We’ll have plenty of them the next couple years.
  • Cliff Lee is gone, but right-handed reliever Chen Chang Lee has been pitching well lately at Class A Kinston. Lee hasn’t allowed a run over his last five outings, covering 10 2/3 innings of work. He’s allowed five hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts in that span. Lee is 3-4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 34 games this season. He was signed out of Taiwan last year.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Zach Jackson somehow gave up 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings in Columbus’ 15-4 loss to Gwinnett last night.
  • Follow the Twitter version of CastroTurf here.
  • Finally, remember the “Kick It” campaign I told you about earlier this season? Well, it begins in earnest today, as the first of five charity kickball games benefitting pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research will take place at Progressive Field following the game against the Tigers. Kids can register their kickball teams at Indians.com and kick-it.org to hold games in their communities to raise money from July until September. And select teams will be chosen to play games here at the ballpark following the remaining Sunday home games. This endeavor will continue next season, as well.

~AC

50 Comments

I’ll tell you right now how Chen Chang Lee’s career will go with the Indians organization. He continues to post spectacular numbers and earns the moniker “C.C. Lee,” and eventually takes his place in Cleveland as the ace of our staff. After winning the AL Cy Young award with one season left on his contract, the front office gets deja vu of the last time they had a kid named “C.C.” in this situation and trade him in the middle of the following season for prospects. He wins the Cy Young again, then miraculously gives Cleveland a hometown discount, of sorts, and signs a two-year deal with us. The front office gets deja vu of the last time they had a kid named “Lee” who had just won a Cy Young, and trade him in the middle of the season for prospects.

Fireworks night is nice to encourage fans, but I think N.E. Ohio is suffering an econimic downturn regardless of what many may think, maybe they should think of price reductions for BPS games or a Friday or Saturday or even a Sunday afternoon game, I realise the principals of businesses today is calculated on needed revenue vs sales, but it still works with the right incentives of you sell more if you charge less, thus more profit…it’s work for other teams, maybe they need a overall in the front office, some people with new concepts, they couldn’t do any worse than the ones running marketing now….it just annoys me when they cry poor mouth, but wont get INNOVATIVE to correct it.. same old same.. cause thats how we’ve always done it…
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Often those closest to use and even ourselves sometimes forget how this is a business and trying to win is part of that business but so is making money. Unfortunately having the usual Cleveland sports mindset, especially in baseball I think, we often cling to players we like and can identify with since come the postseason we’re not exactly sure what to do with ourselves. So without the continuous hope of contention and the idea that players are moved for competitive reasons often when we lose Omar Vizquel or Victor Martinez and wonder why. We have a hard time believing people when they tell us in the long term this will make the team better, when we’re not that kind of city. We don’t expect success but we do expect to see Victor behind home plate. That and trying to rationalize this to my dad during our weekly chat is not going to be easy.
http://gotribe.mlblogs.com/

Is Marte going to start playing everyday? Or is this going to be a every other day thing for him?
http://clevelandbaseball.mlblogs.com/

isavage, in responding to your comment about whether or not I like the Martinez deal I alluded to my overall feelings about the situation. Across the board, we were lowballed for Lee and Martinez b/c MLB knew we were slashing payroll. At that point in the negotiations we have lost the upper hand in attempting to deal two, bonafide difference-makers. Receiving low-level, medium-to-high ceiling prospects for guys like Garko and Betancourt is smart so I will commend Shapiro for those moves considering our future direction with those guys and their monetary situations. However, when it came to the Lee and Martinez deals it seems that Shapiro went with quantity over quality. I say that because when you acquire injured players and guys recently off the DL with significant injuries it makes me question the talent evaluation process of our club. When you say that you liked a guy when he was drafted a year, two years or more ago it doesn’t mean that he has adjusted and progressed well from that draft to now.

I do not buy into the Bartolo Colon 2002 analogy so when anyone attempts to make it, they are severely off base for a plethora of reasons that have been discussed (like the Expos leaving, the depth of our farm system at that time or lack thereof I should say, not to mention the overwhelming notion throughout baseball that we ripped off the Expos who had no reason to think about future seasons). Imagine a Nationals team comprised of Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore. Sounds like a good place to start with hindsight as 20/20.

I do not think that anyone can argue that our drafting of ML talent has been sketchy at best and I’m being polite with that adjective. We typically draft collegiate players in the early rounds that are supposed to have a quick ascension to the ML club. It hasn’t worked out. At all. Small-to-mid market teams MUST draft well to supplement their ML roster. I made that comment previously so I will not go into it in detail. My best example of that idea though is the Minnesota Twins. Our division is always up for grabs and they are always right in the middle of it despite losing Johan Sanatan.

Bottom line is: I like the Garko, Betancourt and DeRosa trades. I hate the Winston Abreu experiment. Terrible. Despite what Meloan does the rest of his career that one is totally baffling. The Lee/Francisco deal carries with it unnecessary components. Lou Marson makes no sense unless you flip him during the winter meetings. Jason Donald and the analysis of him post trade is inexplicable given his numbers. I said it immediately after the trade: we traded for a utility infielder to replace Jamey Carroll.

If you are going to discard Buchholz’s no-hitter and minor league numbers (which are more telling for me) than you also have to discard Masterson’s post season. Buchholz has #1 type stuff. Masterson, while having more ML experience, simply doesn’t. But he will add depth and a quality 2-3 type SP. Hagadone is an unknown commodity coming off Tommy John surgery whose progress as a start will take much longer than if he’s a late-inning reliever. My biggest fear is that Shapiro starts to tinker with guys much like he did Hector Rondon simply to get them to the bigs. Jason Knapp is a long term project with big upside. Same goes for Hagadone. I just would have thought that trading guys like Martinez and Lee would have garnered “prospects” that are further in their development, maybe 0-2 years away rather than 2-4 years. In that respect the best deal we have made so far this season is the Perez/Todd deal for DeRosa b/c they are immediate fixtures who will have the experience necessary by 2011 when we plan to contend as opposed to guys that would be white-eyed and bushy tailed rookies with no experience, on limited pitch counts and limited inning totals.

So no, I don’t like the Martinez deal. I really do like Masterson but I valued Buchholz’s #1 potential stuff more. I would have preferred one higher prospect that the combination of Hagadone and Price. I am confused by the Lee deal because of the pieces that simply do not add up. Too much is made out of Baseball Prospectus rankings.

Conversely, as an Indians fan would you be terribly upset if they acquired a quality ML pitcher like Yovani Gallardo for a two or three player package that revolved around Alex Perez? I think not. Mark Shapiro knew that his drafts have been wretched. He knew that he didn’t have a lot of arms in the upper levels of the system so he went out and acquired a bunch of low risk, low level, potentially high reward pitchers b/c having an abundance of young pitching is like having a lot of offensive lineman in football: it’s never a bad thing.

AM, I think you are overvaluing Martinez. I agree completely on the Lee trade, but the Indians aren’t getting Buchholz w/o giving other prospects to Boston. I frankly didn’t think the Sox would even part with Masterson as a straight swap with Martinez, since their pitching staff is rather weak, the fact that they through in another high ceiling prospect makes this one of the better deals Shapiro has made, in my opinion. I think if Martinez keeps hitting .370, instead of batting under .200 for 2 months, they can get Buchholz, but at this point the Red Sox have got to wonder if there’s something wrong with him … I certainly wonder. He’s a defensive liability as catcher, and his offensive numbers are unimpressive as a 1B. I like this move even without the salary considerations, Masterson fits in well as either a reliever or starter, if Westbrook and/or Carmona don’t return, he’s a starter, if they do, he’s a reliever, and they’ve got a good bullpen next year … emotion aside, I really do think this move will be good for the team, both for the developmment of players like Laporta, Santana and Torregas, since Martinez otherwisw blocks both 1B and C, and by giving them a solid pitcher now and a good prospect. I like that they’re going after hard throwers too, the Sowers/Laffey/Scott Lewis types are much harder to project and usually don’t pan out … regarding Meloan, has Shapiro offered an explanation for that trade? I remember I checked and his ERA with Colombus was under 3 for the month prior to the trade, basically he’d been performing as you’d hope … But I still like their bullpen next year even without Meloan

isavage, point taken. My reaction immediately after the deal was obviously out of frustration and fan emotion. It gets tiresome to be the high profile player piggybank for all of major league baseball. Then again, if I overvalue Martinez and do not hold his last two months to be a strong indicator to his career numbers than I think you might negatively over-analyze those two months. Perhaps we are at a conversational impasse, which is still ok and provides quality conversation. A season of .370 is almost as improbable as .200 for Martinez. Did we get value for him? Yes. Do I think we should have gotten more? Yes. Did our known financial situation and acquisition of Lou Marson play a role in teams such as Boston and Tampa Bay to not offer top dollar? Without a doubt.

I would agree with others who have suggested that our rotation and bullpen have potential next year. Look at the arms we have to choose from:

SP 1-4 in no particular order: Carmona, Laffey, Westbrook, Masterson. And while Westbrook and Carmona are still a work in progress we all assume they will be there if healthy. Since Shapiro has stated that he wants 7-8 capable starters he has many to choose from for the last spot: Rondon, Carrasco, Sowers, Huff, Scott Lewis. Given development status and no immediate needs to push guys, my money is on Huff to be the guy from the onset of 2010 but it will undoubtedly change throughout the season.

RP: Wood, C. Perez, R. Perez, J. Lewis, Sipp, Todd, Smith, and Rick White. Veras and Ohka are gone. In a perfect world R. Perez and J. Lewis return to form and Sipp progresses into an inning-capable reliever. Like any other team we will have uncertainties but at least you can say that our expectations are lowered, if not more reasonable now more than ever.

AC, not one journalist has picked this up, but what about STO? Remember, Mark had promised that they could take some of that money they earn and use that towards the payroll. I guarentee you the station is doing very well with their ad rates. How do I know this? I worked in radio, and with radio, TV station’s bread and butter are ad rates. Plus, remember, they do their programming through HD on 24/7 and I know the satellite fees aren’t cheap. So if they can afford that, there is no reason why this team can’t compete in the middle of the block every year in payroll. It’s just Mark has to choose better on who he brings in. One thing he needs to do next season is bring in some veteran guys who have won championships and can help a young team out. He has already stated he can spend some of that $16 million they saved with Lee and Martinez, so use it by getting those “Trot Nixon” types. Not talent wise per say, but guys that have won rings and can lead any clubhouse, like Trot did. These guys have talent, I still truly believe that, they just need some leadership to hone everything in.

First off – cheers to Lara. I hope you ride the path of Bob Ojeda (well, in one way).
I think the VMart trade made sense and I think we got pretty good value for him. Could they have gotten better? Maybe; but our situation was obvious: slashing payroll and cutting 1B and C. Martinez, while valuable, had lesser value with Chief Wahoo on his cap; and the Red Sox knew it.

The Lee deal will most likely go down as one of the worst deals in baseball in recent years. Giving away the defending Cy Young for second tier prospects is foolish.
It infuriates me to known that the 4 key players Toronto was asking for were not even mentioned in this deal.
ANY team would drool to have a Cy Young winner for 1.5 years at 9MM. He would have had the same or more trade value next year. He would have had more team value this and next – but clearly, the powers that be gave up on those seasons.

Many businesses fail because they are under capitalized. You can’t continually downsize your business hoping that cutting costs, rather than growing revenue, is the key to profitability. Customer brand loyalty doesn’t guarantee future sales especially when your competitors are offering a superior product. If you stop producing a product that people want to buy you will go out of business. Yes, baseball is a business. But it works both ways simply blaming fans for failing to support a poor product ignores that. Maybe the Indians should become a not for profit, at least then our charitable contributions would be tax deductible.

AM, given Masterson’s first appearance with the Indians and Buckholtz performance today, I’m willing to let this one play out for a while. Every single person I talked to in Boston this past weekend was crazy about Masterson, far more than Buckholtz — most had little faith in the guy who threw the no hitter.
The other common comment I got was about how great Hagadone is. Red Sox fans seem to think an awful lot of him, and these are people who would have no problems telling me if we got robbed or not.

AC, great points about the business side of things. I recently said in my own blog that Cleveland has one too many sports, and we all know it’s no coincidence that the string of sell outs (and AL Central crowns) happened when they did.
I hate to say it, but the best thing that can happen to the Tribe is LeBron leaving. You heard me.
It’s easy to see why Cleveland it a football town, even though the team is never any good: it’s cheaper. There are so many fewer games that need to draw fans, it’s easy for them to sell out on a regular basis, or come close. It’s instant gratification. The Tribe isn’t going to lose fans to the Browns as much as it will the Cavs, particularly when the seasons overlap as they do.

One last comment, as I’ve been away for a while:
I think this team hinges on Fausto Carmona, and has for a while now, if you really think about it.
In 2006, we basically fell apart because of our bullpen…and guess who we tried as closer that year?
In 2007, Carmona dominated, and we came within one game of the World Series.
In 2008, Carmona ended up on the DL, much like most of our team.
And this year, he was completely awful…much like most of our team.
I understand why some people are thinking “hey, our rotation and bullpen might be pretty good next year,” but the problem is that we lack an ACE. I’m sure we could put together a decent 2-5 by next season (lord knows we have the pieces for it) and I’m sure we can even get together a good back end of the bullpen, but losing Lee meant dealing our only certifiable ace…unless Fausto Carmona returns to his 2007 form.
I don’t think anyone else in our system is ready yet to get to that point — the closet would probably Rondon, but he’s still a good year away, I think.
But, yeah, from Carmona, Westbrook, Laffey, Lewis, Huff, Sowers, Masterson, Carrosco, Rondon — you’d think we could get a decent rotation out of that group. But we need to find an ace, and the only person who’s shown that potential is Carmona.

Bravo as always AC. You continue to shine as a journalist through this blog. You have a commitment to truthful reporting of facts but are always able to view the facts like a fan. Your humor is always evident as well and helps keep all of us coming back. Keep up the outstanding work in what must be one of the best and worst jobs you will ever have.

I’m just hoping that the Indians make an effort to start staffing the teams throughout the system with qualified coaches who have the ability to get the most out of all the prospects and can help them when they hit the wall.

606 days till we’re officially back in contention!

Baseball will continue to be broken until the money situation is corrected…

1.) All TV revenues need to be shared equally.

2.) There needs to be a Salary Cap.

3.) Each team needs to be allowed to designate a Franchise Pitcher and a Franchise player.

Until, this changes, Baseball will be dominated by the big-spenders.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…you can put as many big names in your line up as you like, but until people start sitting in seats at the stadium things won’t change, big names won’t make people spend the money, most of the core players for the Phillies are home grown players, from there own farm system, they are the World Series Champions, yet it is still cheaper to go and watch a game there than it is to go and watch the Tribe play, the Rays AL Champions, cheaper to go and watch than the Tribe, look at the Yankees, stadium barely gets fans in now, why seat prices….

so nobody wants to even touch on my STO thoughts? Look guys, nobody needs to tell me that station is doing very well. I know they are, it’s a big reason why we signed Kerry Wood in the first place. Plus I worked in radio for 6 years, I know what a log looks like when the station is making money from sales, and when things are struggling. STO is doing very well, with the ad rates they are showing. When we see the Dolans themselves appearing in commercials, then they truly are losing money.

But I also think a big reason why the fans don’t attend is the Indians hiked up the prices for a game, which is the dumbest thing you can do. Maybe if the Indians were winning, but not when they are 17 games under .500. Whoever came up with that plan should be fired.

so nobody wants to even touch on my STO thoughts? Look guys, nobody needs to tell me that station is doing very well. I know they are, it’s a big reason why we signed Kerry Wood in the first place. Plus I worked in radio for 6 years, I know what a log looks like when the station is making money from sales, and when things are struggling. STO is doing very well, with the ad rates they are showing. When we see the Dolans themselves appearing in commercials, then they truly are losing money.

But I also think a big reason why the fans don’t attend is the Indians hiked up the prices for a game, which is the dumbest thing you can do. Maybe if the Indians were winning, but not when they are 17 games under .500. Whoever came up with that plan should be fired.

cantonguy- the problem with most TV contracts is exactly that its a contract for a term, and until that term comes up for renewel there is little they can do…. the price hike on seats is the biggest issue, they increased to try and generate the money they needed from attendance, the problem is, as I have said, is old style, comfort zone marketing, in todays economic environment they have to be turning to volume for profit and they can only do that if the prices are equal to what people will comfortably pay to go to the ball game, they need to evaluate and make there marketing department work for a living, instead of letting them generate high dollar incentives to get people to go to the games, they have conpetition and that all has to be taken into account, not looked at and assume if the Browns or Cavs can charge that much we can… they really do need to invest sensibly and look more at innovative marketing instead of comfort zone marketing…

no, I agree they have to realize they can’t compete with the Browns and Cavs right now, so instead of working against them, they need to work with them. How about running a 3 team discount where you can get in all 3 places, root for your Cleveland team all at a reasonable price? Gee, that would make sense to me and this way you can keep the places fan friendly. Another thing they can do is market the Indians a bit more in radio and TV ads, profile the players, show them around the city of Cleveland. In fact, showcase the “present” with Grady and “future” with Matt Laporta. So why isn’t the marketing people thinking of this?

I also know about the contracts, but I got to tell you, the advertisers have to be angry about this. When they were sought out in the first place, they were promised they would be advertised to a contending team. Hudrednds, thousands, maybe millions of people would see them. But now they are rebuilding again, and they say have a 2 year contract. When the Indians were rebuilding in 2003, 2004, it was very difficult getting new advertisers for the game because they knew the Indians wouldn’t be good. It was a big problem, and they have to see now that they have their own TV channel, things are going to be more difficult selling to the masses. Once Spitzer gets done with their deal, STO might be struggling, unless the team gets better faster.

LACF, I think even more important than Carmona is Kerry Wood. If Wood pitches like we thought he would, the Indians are only 5-6 games back this year. After that, it’s Westbrook/Camona. I think they can get by with one of those guys returning to form, if both do, and Wood performs well, they make the playoffs next year, if one does, they still have a chance, if neither of them do, no chance … if they both pitch great and Wood bombs, they are screwed

cantonguy- you offer some good examples of looking into innovative marketing schemes, there’s a chance that the Browns and the Cavs wouldn’r play ball, but it should still be explored, and i think thats the problem, they just aren’t looking at new opportunities, same old same old.. is the motto of there marketing I think…

Devilabrit, I think it can work because the Indians already have a partnership with the Browns, showing anything that has to do with the Browns in training camp. I also think it could work with the Cavs since they are next door to each other (Quicken Loans Arena and Preogressive Field), the problem is the people working in the marketing department don’t have the mentality to try new things. If Mark Shapiro says Cleveland is a small market, which history has shown it isn’t, then by golly the guys up there won’t think outside the box. It’s a great way to get your team out there to the public and also have a little fun with those commerical ideas. That also could renovate more money tinot the franchise. I respect Bob Dibisaso and everything he has done, but there can always be more, and let’s be creative with these ideas.

“If Mark Shapiro says Cleveland is a small market, which history has shown it isn’t…”
cantonguy, I think history has very much shown that it is. It’s no coincidence that the bulk of the sell out streak happened when the Browns didn’t exist and the Cavs weren’t very good. As AC pointed out, Cleveland doesn’t have a market big enough to handle three teams at once; people just don’t have the money to commit to it. And because of the way its run, the baseball team is going to have the hardest time competing.

Losangelesclevelandfan, that is a copout excuse. I am not saying we are a big market, but history has shown in terms of radio, TV, etc that we aren’t a small market. I also think you look right across the street and see that other organization goes out and tries to buy championships. Even when they go over the cap, they pay their share they need to pay. Now am I suggesting Dolan does that? Of course not, but this is a mid market, period. The Browns, even as bad as they are, they make money and they spend money when they need to. The big problem here is we have a lawyer who owns a team. Not a businessman, big, BIG difference. Dan Gilbert, he owns his business, Al Lerner, who brought the Browns back to town, he owned his own business, he was not a lawyer. I truly believe, if you think small, then you are small, but if you think outside the box, you can get fans to come see you. Now what is wrong with the Indians working together with the Browns and Cavs? Again, think outside the box.

LAClevelandfan, I’ll give you another example. Cleveland is the 29th biggest radio market in this country. 29th out of 316 different markets. Is that small market? Really? No, that is just a team settling that they are number 3 in terms of the totem pole and they don’t have many people that are willing to work their organization out there. Not much advertising, there isn’t many endorsement deals, there isn’t much talk outside of Cleveland. I would venture to say TV is about 29th as well, so again how is this a small market? I’ll tell you how, because the owner wants it that way. Florida is a much better market than Cleveland is, but that franchise CHOOSES to act small market, and not take advantage of what media access they have. Again, you want to think this town can’t have 3 followings? I disagree, and the one market to take full advantage of is the Cavaliers, since after all they both got their stadium/arena deals at the same time. Heck, they were supposed to be a partnership going into that deal, and what have they done together lately? I went to an Indians game back in 2007, the year the Cavs were heading to the NBA Finals, had a game with the Pistons that very night. There were no updates, no parties, nothing. Yet many, many people have gone to the Cavs game that afternoon, only to go to the Indians game that evening or vice versa, so what is wrong with working together? Nope, this management just wants to lay excuses instead of looking at themselves in the mirror.

cantonguy, you say Cleveland is the 29th radio market out of 316 — how many of those 316 have sports teams? The comparison would be where it stands compared to the radio markets who have professional sports teams, and I’d hazard a guess that most of the 28 ahead of Cleveland HAVE teams, which makes Cleveland pretty far down the list, considering there are 30 MLB teams, 32 NFL teams, and 30 NBA teams.
The Browns deal with a league that has a salary cap, so they’re not hampered by competing in that regard.
As far as the fact that Browns are awful and continue to make money, why wouldn’t they? $375 gets you season tickets for the Browns — that’s every home game, half the season, and basically on a weekend, when it can be an event. The same amount of money gets you just 20 Indians’ games, which is left than 10% of the season — only 25% of the HOME games! Football wins out every time in this debate.

And let it be known that I never argued against your cross promotion idea — I think it’s a fine one. But we’re not a big market team, or a big market city.
Part of that, to be fair, is where Cleveland is located. Boston isn’t a large city by any means, but there’s nothing north of it. There’s no competition in the New England for the Red Sox. I mean, I have friends from Toledo who are TIGERS fans! And I have friends from Columbus who are Reds fans! Even if Cleveland is a big radio market, it’s because it overlaps into those other markets as well.

To be fair, I checked and you’re right in one term. Of the 29 markets, Cleveland is the 24th market that has a baseball team. But again, I wouldn’t call this a small market. See, I just feel the Indians don’t put in the potential they have, in terms of advertisement and endorsements. They just accept what they have and hope this is a good season. 2007 proved that once the fans knew this team was for real, they showed up and sold out in the postseason. I just think the best things they can do are those deals with say the Cavaliers. Especially in April and May, during the end of the Cavaliers season, where fans go to one arena, then they head over to Progressive Field to see the Indians play. You might catch lightning in a bottle because there are some fans that go see both. Why not take advantage of that? Let’s also see more commercials featuring the Indians? More biographies on STO, something, not just “Hey let’s play baseball and hope the game sells itself, now go sell tickets”. They can certainly afford that.

But, to quote AC from the Inbox, “We saw that in 2007, when attendance was mediocre, at best, all year, until the season’s final two months.” That’s 2 months out of 7 — not exactly a profit machine.
My only concern about a Cavs/Tribe promotion would be the amount of time in one day it would take — who would really be able to take advantage of that? And, even if you discounted tickets, they’d still be more expensive than just a single ticket to one event. And then consider the cost of food — we’re talking 7-8 hours spent between the Jake and Gund. You’d have to include food costs into that. I don’t think it would work logistically.
Now, something like “keep this Cavs stub to get x off a Tribe game” would make sense and might help, particularly if it’s valid for the baseball season that happens after the NBA is over and before the NFL starts.

I would be cool with that, you already have the fan thinking back to come see your guys play. Meanwhile, we must capitalize on telling the public who these new players are with commericals and ad rates. Get it out there, even send the players to do radio shows and tell them who they are. I just think they are settling where things are now but there is more work they can get to make people see them.

Yes, Anthony, and the team is knee deep, in the big muddy right now.

Since the only thing we have to look forward to is the future I wanted to paste something that Jim Callus of Baseball America wrote:

As I wrote in a column posted earlier today, I wouldn’t have made the Lee trade if I were running the Indians. He’s still a very good value for 2010 at $9 million and Cleveland could have contended for the American League Central title. Carrasco (No. 2 on our Phillies Top 30 in the 2009 Prospect Handbook), Marson (No. 3) and Donald (No. 4) have lost some luster in Triple-A, and Knapp (No. 10) has passed them all. Only Knapp and Carrasco would crack my updated Indians Top 10:

1. Carlos Santana, c
Stolen from the Dodgers last summer in the Casey Blake trade.
2. Matt LaPorta, of
Scouts are cooling a little on the centerpiece of the C.C. Sabathia trade.
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b
Surprise 2008 first-rounder is hitting just like the Indians hoped.
4. Jason Knapp, rhp
One of the hardest throwers in the lower minors is out with shoulder fatigue
5. Nick Hagadone, lhp
Has regained power stuff after Tommy John surgery, might be a reliever.
6. Alex White, rhp
Tremendous value pick at 15th overall in the 2009 draft, though still unsigned.
7. Nick Weglarz, of
Left-handed version of LaPorta with a chance to surpass him down the road.
8. Hector Rondon, rhp
He and Weglarz are the only guys on this list who were Indians before June 2008.
9. T.J. House, lhp
Signed for $750,000 as a 16th-round pick in 2008.
10. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
What he has in stuff he has lacked in poise and results in the upper minors.

What I found interesting was the comment he made about Travis d’Arnaud, C: “Some talent evaluators would have taken him over Marson in the Lee trade.” Opinions always differ I guess.

I can’t comment on the others, but what I can say about..
#4 Knapp, some scouts have reported that this fatigue can be normal in the minor leagues for someone who throws as hard as Knapp does.
#10 Carrasco, it has been said of him that coaching time and experience will give the poise to go with his pitching ability.

Hey everyone, as someone who’s spent the last 20 years in media – no one is really in great shakes. The whole media landscape is (wait for the buzzword) fragemented. With so many messages, from so many places no one can really determine (buzzword #2) ROI, so agencies and advertisers are not as confident in any returns. I’m not sure about STO in particular, most likely they are in the same boat as every radio, TV, newspaper, magazine and yes even Internet broadcaster – making less. I’m not sure if was here but, someone had mentioned that they are making up for lost revenue with their online offerings. Here’s the problem – Yes, audiences have shifted to online sources – but the tv/radio/newspaper/magazines only get about a 10% return vs. online. So if a TV station sells a spot for $250 – advertisers are only willing to spend about $25 for the same ad online.
BTW – The Cleveland/Akron TV DMA is the 15th largest TV market (DMA determined by Neilsen usually large area’s)
Radio Metro’s come from Arbitron – they are usually smaller
geographic areas Cleveland is #29, Akron #75, Youngstown, #126. Add them together, you get about 2.75 million people age 12+ (that’s how they measure radio) and would rank about #16

al- I can agree and confirm a lot of what you said, like you, in marketing, mostly imaging industries for 20+ yrs and what was seen as revenues is no longer, print media is down below 2% returns the tv/radio is what boost the media returns to 10%, which i think is a generous estimated return. The Indians along with a number of other clubs have to look long and hard at new avenues to generate revenues now, and the kicker is no matter what they decide the return on investment will not match up to expectations, that’s all part of the game unfortunately.
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Cantonguy,deveilabrit & losangelesecleveland fan –
The tribe has actually done a lot of research into variable ticket pricing and valuation of each ticket being sold and it’s relative value – if you’re into market research (i.e. masocist)
it’s pretty interesting. Things like fireworks bring in an average 400 extras fans per game and that for every degree the tempeture falls below 70 – it costs them 300 fans per game (hasn’t it been a rather cold summer too), bobblehead promotions bring in an extra 5000 fans (that’s why they still did the Vic night) and in Grady’s first three all-star seasons – they averaged an extra 6,600 seats (they can’t all be Grady’s ladies). Also, the question of partnerships came up. The problem there is that businness are just tapped out. The stub return is a great one – you can actually show the return, but how much would the Indians want for the promotion. As far as getting players to do spots & promotions – ewither make it part of thier contracts or be willing to pay them. They are talent and do nothing for free (outside of the charity/civic stuff).

Cantonguy – one more thing, sorry, no one and I mean one one pay pays rate card for any media. If you are a business that is paying ratecard and isn’t on a special program, either find get an agency or a mdia buyer or find a new agency and media buyer

al- to true, rate cards are just so you know where to start bargining down from, the fireworks thing is nice but it is one of those things that doesn’t return anywhere near the investment as bobbleheads or photonight, or kids run the bases, even something as simple as sovunier t-shirts or rally towels even joint venture with local businesses for hats or something generate a bigger return than fireworks.

al- to true, if the organization has to pay the players a bit more to do the commercial, then so be it, you do it. Pay it under STO’s expense, whatever. The point is you get your product a bit more out there. I personally think “The Future” Vs “The Present” is a great idea to get the fans to get better acquainted with some of the new guys. You promote your club much better that way rather than “You should know who the players are” especially with this new transition that is taking place. Have fun with it. It will impress the fans that might be on the bubble a bit more.

example for anyone interested – May 29 Fireworks attd approx 32,800, May 30 Rally towel attd approx 34,300, now its not just about the giveaway, it relates to what else is happening locally, the weather etc, the point I was making is the fireworks eat more profit than towels, opening day seems to be the only day they hit over 40,000, the next highest was this past weekend when they hit mid 30’s. It’s not as simple as some may think, but more thought has to be put into it…

Along those lines, cantonguy, a “Minors to Majors” type package would sound great. I mean, Akron really isn’t that far away and, as Al mentioned, they’re looking at it as all of NE Ohio, why not put together some kind of Aeros/Indians deal? Go see Santana now, as he’ll be with the Tribe soon. I know Columbus is further away, but you could also make that an option. I also wonder if the Clippers do any marketing to Reds’ fans. I know Columbus can be pretty divided over where their loyalties lie, so imagine getting a Reds fan hooked on a guy like LaPorta — perhaps that brings them over to the Tribe (or at least gets them to come to a game when they’re in the area).
I can understand why this hasn’t really happened yet (that I know of). This is the first season all of our minor league teams have been in Ohio. But it seems like a good idea.

Al and Devilabrit — love all the info! It’s great reading!

yeah it does LAClevelandfan, the Indians have the opportunity to take advantage of the entire market, Akron/Cleveland market, and you can add Canton to that too since Akron is only 20 minutes away. I have been to some Aeroes games and have seen Carlos Santana play. It’s time to market him as “The next big thing” because he truly is. Plus I like your idea about marketing Matt Laporta, though it might be too late over there since he should be up here in less than a month to stay, but there’s no reason why they can’t do that to Santana next season.

Grady would be a great guy to get things moving, he’s fairly well known, probably the most well known of all Indians current players, he is fully involved in the RBI program and has some stints in advertising with diferent things, he’s single which can be a plus and he seems to have the perfect personality, they just need to get him on a few more promotions and I am sure he can encourage the others to play more of a role, I realize they all want paid, but the more they do now, the financial benefit to the team almost guarentees them a share when they are due for a new contract, it’s all about presentation content.

Right, and to go along with this idea this offseason, you shoot a commercial with Grady and Matt Laporta, since Matt should have a spot on the team next season. So, it goes along with the “Present meets the future” theme. Have fun with it.

LA & Devilabrit – Thanks. I think the organization knows that promotions are key to getting people out to the ballpark to see a bad team. I just don’t think that they have the timem staff or or can justify finanically doing the out-of-the box stuff. The other thing that they need to do is build affinity for the club – right now, they have none at all. Going back to my days as a radio programmer, I always worked hard for listeners to take ownership of the station. If someone felt vested enough to say it was their favorite station – it meant a competitor had to work 3x as hard to convert them. They need to start earning and banking community goodwill. I think the kickball game is great – but how many guys sign autographs after games, how many are doing visits to the Cleveland Clinic pediatric cancer wards. Have any of them started with a back to school drive? On one of the blogs, someone said bring Omar back as a manager. can you imagine how many people would come just becuase he is back associated with the club. He might not manage worth a crap, but people love him, he’s was a great player and an all around great person ( in 1995, my aunt & uncle were celebrating my aunts birthday and Omar was leaving the restuarant, several people recognized him, he came over said hello, gave her a kiss on the cheek. My uncle was a season ticket holder – the next year he had to buy 2 becuase she wanted to go to the games. good will breeds fans) Even if can’t manage -people will come becuase of the way we remember him. I’m not saying hire him, I’m saying earn the good will. Become part of the community – we have a city that is crumbling. Imagine if we got someone to underwrite a program where people could earn free tickets by working in to make the community a better place. What if everyone who donated time for habitat or meals on wheeks got a free shirt and hotdog if they went to a game. What if the tribe hosted a little league game on the field and the way teams got decided wasn’t by doing carwashes or selling candy but by doing community service. Sorry to ramble but look at the Cubs, they were horrible for decades but the placed was packed becuase people loved them and they loved Chicago.

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