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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Braves want you to get excited about ‘monetary yield’ and ‘glide slope’

Last week Braves president Terry McGuirk and general manager Alex Anthopoulos gave a sit-down interview with Jeff Schultz and David O’Brien of The Athletic. It did not go over well with Braves fans.

In the interview McGuirk and Anthopoulos walked back multiple past claims that the Braves would spend more money for the 2019 season and, as I detailed here, did so in a pretty condescending manner. It was difficult to take anything away from the interview other than the conclusion that (a) profit and cash flow are the team’s highest priorities; and (b) the team’s promises about what it plans to do in the future aren’t worth much. And it’s not just me saying that. McGuirk and Anthopoulos have been roasted by Braves fans, Atlanta talk radio and the Braves blogosphere since the interview went live.

No doubt aware of the blowback they created, last night McGuirk and Anthopoulos spoke to O’Brien once again. But unlike last time, they were not challenged substantively on any point. Indeed, the entire column reeks of McGuirk and Anthopoulos saying “HEY! We got a lot of bad press from our interview last week, so let’s try to fix it!” I am not exaggerating here. It’s as if O’Brien hit “record” when they began talking, hit “stop” when they stopped, transcribed the thing and published it with minimal additions.

Isn’t “glide slope” what Calvin used to do to get his toboggan to take flight?

 

QLE Posted: February 20, 2019 at 04:49 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alex anthopoulos, braves, money

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   1. bfan Posted: February 20, 2019 at 08:10 AM (#5816726)
I, more than most on this board, am fine with teams getting a return on their investment/equity-even a healthy return. I also have no problem with teams trading their brand to municipalities in return for locating there; I think the value for the municipality is there, and I understand that others do not, but at least the voters get to decide by keeping or voting out those politicians who cut those deals.

However, lying to your fans over a period of time is a pretty low act. It is demonstrable by quotes that Braves leadership told the fan-base (i.e., the ticket-buying public) to bear with the dreck of 2016 and 2017 while the team built a younger talent base and saved money, to spend that money in 2019 and beyond. I personally think that is a defensible strategy (deferring wins for when you can compete for greater success), and one that I, and other fans, waited for, expecting the exciting turn as profitability and salary freedom led to some aggressive talent acquisition.

I would even respect some honesty at this point; the ownership could say "We thought we could spend more money, but we are a smaller market team and just cannot spend the way bigger market teams do", or "we see some great bargains that may be available next year and we are saving our money for then". Now I do not believe those statements for one second, but at least it is an explanation to counter prior, affirmative statements not being carried out.

But this ham-handed, fumbled-mouthed misdirection of a press conference is embarrassing and a bit of a disgrace. Now the story is "Payroll trending toward the middle..." "We've messaged that we want to get to the middle..." What? This is a clown-show. The local Braves personnel must thank god every day that this asset is a blip on the Liberty Media empire, and that no one up the chain is paying attention, because this is and has become a corporate "how to" on malfeasance.
   2. . Posted: February 20, 2019 at 09:45 AM (#5816741)
Didn't the Braves win the division last year, with 92 Pythag wins?

Is there actually a serious complaint here beyond the now entirely tiresome, "Teams aren't really allowed to make profits"?

And it's beyond bizarre that a "commitment to winning" is now somehow more important than actually ... you know ... winning. (This, too, is somewhat explained by the relative diminishment of today's game as opposed to other considerations that we discussed in a similar thread.)
   3. . Posted: February 20, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5816748)
And this idea that winning is somehow not "really" winning unless it's the end product of a conscious, detailed "plan" that commentators can understand and applaud is also an entirely odious development. Part of the fun of sports -- and life, for that matter -- is the pleasant surprise. Its negation and denigration in favor of detailed Sovietesque Five Year Plans is really ... icky and weird and controlling and creepy.
   4. Bhaakon Posted: February 20, 2019 at 01:35 PM (#5816830)
I think the value for the municipality is there, and I understand that others do not, but at least the voters get to decide by keeping or voting out those politicians who cut those deals.


Voting the bums out is pretty cold comfort once the ink is dry on the contracts, particularly if the politicians in question engaged in various behaviors of questionable ethics to secure funding and avoid public scrutiny until the deal was complete. Most stadium deals I'm familiar with came down to some kind of public referendum at some point, and I'm not sure why that one didn't.

And it's beyond bizarre that a "commitment to winning" is now somehow more important than actually ... you know ... winning. (This, too, is somewhat explained by the relative diminishment of today's game as opposed to other considerations that we discussed in a similar thread.)


Well, I'd argue it's less commitment to winning and more commitment to putting out a (more) watchable product.
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 20, 2019 at 07:00 PM (#5816957)
I am puzzled by the Braves projections. They are a relatively young team but the projection systems forecast a decline for nearly all of their returning regulars. Adding Donaldson, McCann, and a full season from Gausman are largely offset by losing Sanchez and Suzuki. Then there's some addition-by-subtraction to partially offset the declines. But 82-83 wins seems low for this team.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2019 at 07:21 PM (#5816961)
Switching to Glide (Warning: Ad first)
   7. . Posted: February 20, 2019 at 07:33 PM (#5816964)
Lunatics Anonymous -- that's where they belong?
   8. Colin Posted: February 20, 2019 at 07:41 PM (#5816965)
I am puzzled by the Braves projections. They are a relatively young team but the projection systems forecast a decline for nearly all of their returning regulars. Adding Donaldson, McCann, and a full season from Gausman are largely offset by losing Sanchez and Suzuki. Then there's some addition-by-subtraction to partially offset the declines. But 82-83 wins seems low for this team.


Just glancing at the team, I expect a decline at catcher with McCann unable to match what they got from Suzuki. I wouldn't be surprised by a small decline at 2B, where Albies put up a crap second half after an unsustainably hot first six weeks last year. I'm hoping for improvement at SS, but expecting breakeven. The team got an 812 OPS last yer at 3B with Camargo, so I don't necessarily take it for granted that Donaldson will be a major improvement there, but he could be. And even if Camargo drops off a little he'll be a major improvement last year in a utility role over a bench that gave the team about a 600 OPS at PH/DH. I expect breakeven in the OF, with any improvement from Acuna being offset by decline from Markakis. All told, I guess I expect an offense that isn't any better than last year's, but not substantially worse.

On the pitching front who the hell knows. Young arms are unpredictable, but I agree with your assessment that Gausman should help offset the loss of Anibal's fluke season.

As to the bigger story, I agree with bfan that that Braves' leadership has handled their refusal to follow through on implied promises of improved payroll in a really poor manner. They're clearly trying to shift the goalposts not to "maybe we'll be middle-mid-market in five years", which is weak as hell. I was sort of expecting them to blame MLB's debt-service rules, which were raised as an issue last year, but I wonder if last year's revenue was actually strong enough to render that no longer an official excuse.
   9. The Duke Posted: February 21, 2019 at 05:42 AM (#5817000)
Not sure I get why their projections are so low. I guess Markakis will regress but I would think they stay even or get better everywhere else. I’m still betting they sign Kimbrel to a Donaldsen type deal.

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