Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pinto Style

Hat tip to David at Baseball Musings for a wonderful mention on his site.

Best Deal in Baseball?

Can anyone beat the $250 season ticket? According to my research at, no they can’t. At least no team that has released their schedule has beaten that price yet. There are several teams that have not yet released their season ticket prices that have a shot, such as the Marlins and Royals. The teams that come closest to beating the Braves’ season ticket deal are the Rangers and Rockies at $328 and $405 respectively.

I have compiled the following chart of the lowest season ticket price offered by each team, and I will update it as more information becomes available. I did not include partial plans on this list, only the full season ticket packages.

Team = Lowest Season Ticket Price
Angels = n/a
Astros = $747
A’s = $738
Blue Jays = $645
Braves = $249
Brewers = $648
Cards = $810
Cubs = n/a
D-Rays = $486
D-Backs = $456
Dodgers = n/a
Giants = $840
Indians = $574
M’s = $1053
Marlins = n/a
Mets = n/a
Nats = $574
O’s = $873
Pads = $810
Phils = $1235
Pirates = n/a
Rangers = $328
Reds = $673
Rockies = $405
Royals = n/a
Tigers = $810
Twins = $200*
White Sox = $952
Yanks = n/a

This leads me to ask why, after winning 14 consecutive division titles, are the Braves offering such a discounted season ticket. And why aren’t more people talking about this? You would expect teams that lose year after year to offer discounted tickets, but this is the team with the longest regular season winning streak in professional sports. Is Atlanta really that bad of a baseball market?

Perhaps the Braves are borrowing a page from the Arthur Blank (owner of the Falcons) playbook. When he took over the team several years ago from disinterested owners, he offered fans who wanted to sit in the upper deck full season ticket packages that started at $100. This actually caused the Falcons to sell out just about every game every year since then. These Braves execs may be looking at that and thinking they can duplicate at least part of that success. It’s a whole lot harder to sell out 81 games verses 10, but in offering such an unheard of deal on season tickets they may get more people looking in their direction.

Anyway, I’ll be writing more on this as the season approaches, and as more thoughts on the possible significance of this come to me.

*Update: Thanks to Chuck T. for bringing to my attention that the Twins offer a 'Cheap Seats Special' season ticket for only $200. Here's another case of a winning and competitive club offering some of the cheapest tickets in baseball. There have been a bunch of similarities between the Braves and Twins starting with their worst to first seasons in ’91. They both have strong farm systems and are committed to building from within. And now both offer their fans great ticket deals (though it looks like the Twins were the first to do this). I may write some more on these similarities in the future. I wonder if a Twins fan with ‘Cheap Seats’ season tickets has a blog. I still find such amazingly cheap tickets, well, amazing (and if the Mets offered such a deal then it would be amazin’).

Kyle Might be Getting his Farns-worth

The NY Daily News is reporting that the Yanks want to add Kyle Farnsworth to their bullpen as a replacement for Tom Gordon to set up Mariano Rivera. They’re throwing money at Farn north of the Eyre / Howry line. ‘Money’ quote:

“The Braves have interest in bringing Farnsworth back, but do not want to meet the expected price.”

If the price for a closer is only $5 million a year, and we ‘do not want to meet that’ yet we apparently still have interest in Farnsworth, then how much do the Braves ‘really’ value a closer. Don’t tell me we’re going to go out and get this year’s Dan Kolb via trade and forego a power arm like Farnsworth. One postseason collapse aside, Farnsworth was by far our best reliever last year, and the only one who seemed to have the temperament for the job.

If we don’t retain Farnsworth the logic and rumblings seem to point to us then only being interested in Todd Jones as a closer acquired via free agency. He lives in Atlanta and would probably be agreeable to some hometown discount. But that brings up another bone of contention with the way the Braves operate sometimes; do we have to insist that everyone give us a hometown discount? Farnsworth lives in Atlanta, but we shouldn’t force him to take $1 to $2 million less because of geographic lineage.

This leads us to the broader question of ‘how are the Braves going to spend their money this winter?’ They don’t seem to be willing to go high enough for Furcal. They don’t seem willing to give Farnsworth half of what B.J. and Billy got. What the hell does Schu have up his sleeve (from here on out I will be referring to Schuerholz as Schu)? How unhappy will Chipper be if we don’t use his restructured contract money on either of these two guys? More to come. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Francoeur’s Future

John Sickels looks into his crystal ball and tells us how Franceour might fare in the coming years. Money quote:

“On the other hand, Francoeur has such good bat speed that he seems able to overcome his over-aggressiveness at the plate, at least often enough to keep his numbers up.”

Overall the piece reads as a glass half empty look at the rookie. Take a look at the possible comps.

Monday, November 28, 2005

There goes my first theory. . .

It looks like the Mets out-bid the field for Wagner with a four year offer and an option for a fifth. With Wagner they add another over 30 small-framed pitcher. Wagner will certainly be an upgrade over Braden Looper at the back end of the bullpen. Last year Wagner blew 5 fewer saves than did Looper while saving 10 more. Let’s hope Minaya leaves enough in the war chest to go get some arms that can bridge the gap from the starters to Wagner.

Now let’s see how much the Mets dole out to either Molina or Hernandez.

Deconstructing the 2006 Schedule

The 2006 Braves Schedule has them getting one of their west coast swings out of the way early. The way the season is starting, with three games in L.A. and four in San Fran, you might think that the Braves are back in the NL West. Whereas last year we only had two trips to the Rocky Mountains and beyond, this year we double that number with four trips. We also get to match-up against the Padres 9 times with two trips to PETCO. The Braves did not fare well against the Pads in ’05, going 1-5.

Also in the NL West, we play Colorado two games at home and four games at Coors.

Only 9 out of the 25 games in April are at home, setting up a potentially slow start if the team doesn’t play well on the road next year. And then in May only 12 of 29 games are at home. That means in the first third of the season 62% of the Braves’ games will be played on the road. But that also means more home games in the second two thirds of the season. The theme for the first two months of the season might be survive at or near .500. Then again, that was what they did last year before climbing to the top.

Interleague play has us back exclusively in the AL East. With the money that Toronto and Baltimore expect to spend added to the money that Boston and New York already spend to put competitive teams on the field, the AL East may be the toughest interleague division to match up against. Don’t count the D-Rays out either, with a young and eager team that put on a show the second half of last season, they may be just as tough to beat as the big spenders.

The season ends with a potentially critical rematch of the Braves hosting the Astros for 3 at the Ted.

And we're off. . .

My first post. . . woohoo!

The Bravos have been rather quiet this offseason, though not until the last few days has anything big happened around baseball, free agent or trade wise. The good news from all those trades (Burkett, Delgado, Thome) is that it effectively weakens two NL East rivals while only strengthening one.

The Marlins are obviously fans of bad sequels, since they are once again plodding down the unilateral disarmament path. How good will Cabrera be as the only potent bat in that lineup (or will it even matter), and how will Dontrelle respond to being the lone ace of the staff? Though their last rebuilding phase eventually led to a World Series, can they really think that will work again? The odds are stacked against them. In the short term at least they will be brutal.

The Phils also dealt away one of their potent bats. This was a better move than the Marlins’ moves, but still leaves their team weaker than it was. Regardless of how ballyhooed Ryan Howard is, I think time may prove him a closer match to Rob Deer than Robin Yount. And can the rest of their streaky batters not only hold it together for a whole year, but finally make it to the top? Still a lot of question marks in Philly.

The Mets made a good move in getting Delgado, though they may have given up Kazmir-lite to get him. Mets fans hope this isn’t the ghost of Mo Vaughn arriving at Shea. For now though, Delgado plugs the hole in the Mets’ lineup that the Piazza drop-off created – good move Minaya.

No doubt Schuerholz wants to counter the Mets’ acquisition of Delgado, and he would love nothing more than to steal Wagner away from them. This may be what he uses the ‘Chipper’ money for instead of re-signing Furcal. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Braves making a run at Juan Pierre either. Getting a leadoff hitter/outfielder like Pierre would allow the Braves to forego a costly long term contract offer to Furcal and use a less expensive option at short.

It’s gonna be a hoppin’ hot stove this winter. . .