“All In” Philosophy Is As Much About Money As Winning
When the Milwaukee Brewers depleted their farm systems for starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum this winter, they – in essence – went “all in” for the 2010 season.
But as much as it is about winning, it’s also about money. It’s not really more about one compared to the other. They dovetail, go hand-in-hand.
It’s an idea I first touched upon in the Maple Street Press Brewers Annual:
The Brewers are set to benefit financially. Whereas they saw packed stadiums for three months of [CC] Sabathia, they should see increased attendance for two years of Greinke and Marcum. And don’t think it was a mistake that the Brewers pulled the trigger on the Greinke trade a week and a half before Christmas. T-shirt sales were already in force before the holidays and season-ticket packages were selling like hotcakes. The heightened income should allow the Brewers to spend more freely in future seasons as well.
Within a week following the Greinke acquisition, the Brewers added 1,500 new season seat account holders compared to 400 who signed on the previous two months since the 2010 season ended.
The Brewers also reached 1 million tickets sold on Jan. 19, tied for the earliest date in team history the club reached that mark.
It’s a trend the Brewers will look to continue all season long. The optimism is as high as it’s ever been heading into spring training, and that will pay amazing dividends in things like merchandise and ticket sales.
Even if the Brewers somehow fall flat on their face this season, they’re reaping the benefits of old axiom “hope springs eternal.”
But with players like Greinke and Marcum to go along with holdovers like Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Yovani Gallardo and Rickie Weeks, it’s very likely the Brewers will at least be competitive this season.
And the better they perform, the better they’ll do in the financial department. A good first half to the season will keep cash flowing into the team’s coffers in the second half of the season in form of even more ticket and merchandise sales as well as concessions, parking and other myriad forms of making money.
When a team is out of contention early, they usually take a hit in the pocketbook late in the season. No one wants to come out to the ballpark in September to see a losing team.
But by putting together a competitive team, the Brewers stand a very good chance of playing meaningful late-season baseball, meaning they’re playing in front of packed houses in August and September.
A playoff appearance would be the cherry on top of it all. When all but eight teams in all of Major League Baseball have ended their seasons, every game the Brewers host in the playoffs ensures they’ll be playing in a sold-out stadium with even higher ticket prices than usual. The further they advance into the postseason, the more home games they’ll play, and the more they’ll make still.
The Brewers can’t keep up with the payroll of the Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies, but with their “all in” philosophy this season, they should at least be able to increase their payroll and be able to make competitive offers to players.
Remember that while the Brewers weren’t able to keep Sabathia following their last playoff appearance in 2008, they were able to at least offer $100 million to the pitcher in the offseason.
If the Brewers are able to stay in playoff contention all season long with the added bonus of some home playoff games, they might be able to offer upcoming free agent first baseman Prince Fielder a competitive offer to stay with the team beyond 2011.
Even if the Brewers aren’t able to retain Fielder, they should be able go out and sign someone in free agency next offseason whether that’s a first baseman, center fielder, shortstop or somewhere else. Only time will tell.
And even without Fielder, the Brewers should be once again be competitive in 2012 with the rest of the team staying largely intact. Once again, it should be another season the Brewers should be able to keep the cash flowing in as long as they stay in the playoff race.
And that will be key to possibly retaining guys like Greinke and Marcum once they’re eligible for free agency.
That’s why for Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin, it’s as much about the Benjamins as it is winning.