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Breaking Down Bonus Money for the 2012 MLB Draft PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 04 June 2012 20:08

Major League Baseball is holding their 2012 First-Year Player Draft Monday evening. As Commissioner Selig is presiding over the event, the playing field this year is unlike any other.

As part of the latest labor deal between the league and the union for the players, MLB negotiated a system by which each club gets an assigned amount that they can spend on bonuses. It isn’t a hard-cap where the amounts are fixed rather, there is a total pool of signing bonus money that clubs can work within across their picks. That amount fluctuates depending on win-loss record in the previous season, etc. Here’s a high-level view of how it works:

  • The signing bonus pools range from $1.7 million (Angels) to $12.4 million (Twins), which is unique to this year because the new system was layered on top of the old free agent draft pick compensation system for this year.
  • The pools are based on the number of picks, including compensation picks, and last season's record.
  • The more picks a club has, the larger the pool becomes that the club will have to work with.
  • The size of the pools will standardize more from club to club after next year’s class of free agents.
  • The size of the pools will be dependent on the number of picks a club has in a given year and where those picks fall within each round. A club with the first pick of the Draft will have the largest pool.

Clubs can choose to ignore the total amount and go over their allotted amount, but there’s a catch—a “Luxury Tax” that clubs get hit with if they do so. Here’s how that works:

Clubs that exceed their Signing Bonus Pool in the 2012-2013 signing period and/or 2013-2014 signing period will be subject to the following penalties:

a. 0-5% in excess of Pool—75% tax on all of the Pool overage.

b. 5-10% in excess of Pool—75% tax on all of the Pool overage and loss of right to provide more than one player in the next succeeding signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.

c. 10-15% in excess of Pool—100% tax on all of the Pool overage and loss of right to provide any player in the next succeeding signing period with a bonus in excess of $500,000.

d. 15% or greater in excess of Pool—100% tax on all of the Pool overage and loss of right to provide any player in the next succeeding signing period with a bonus in excess of $250,000.

Note: If a Club exceeds its Signing Bonus Pool, and it does not possess the draft picks subject to forfeiture as a result of being penalized in a prior year under the agreement, it will forfeit the designated draft picks in the next draft in which it possesses the relevant picks.

So, who has what to spend? According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, the following is how much each club has to work with:

Team

Total

Picks

Avg.

Twins

$12.4m

13

$951k

Astros

$11.2m

11

$1.0m

Padres

$9.9m

14

$707k

Cardinals

$9.1m

14

$652k

Blue Jays

$8.8m

14

$631k

Athletics

$8.5m

13

$651k

Mariners

$8.2m

11

$748k

Cubs

$7.9m

12

$661k

Mets

$7.2m

12

$596k

Red Sox

$6.9m

12

$574k

Orioles

$6.8m

10

$683k

Brewers

$6.8m

12

$564k

Reds

$6.7m

12

$554k

Rockies

$6.6m

12

$552k

Rangers

$6.6m

13

$505k

Pirates

$6.6m

11

$597k

Royals

$6.1m

10

$610k

White Sox

$5.9m

11

$538k

Dodgers

$5.2m

11

$473k

Marlins

$4.9m

10

$494k

Phillies

$4.9m

12

$410k

Indians

$4.6m

10

$458k

Nationals

$4.4m

10

$444k

Yankees

$4.2m

11

$381k

Giants

$4.1m

10

$408k

Braves

$4.0m

10

$403k

Rays

$3.9m

10

$387k

Diamondbacks

$3.8m

10

$382k

Tigers

$2.1m

9

$233k

Angels

$1.7m

8

$206k

Source: MLB.com

There’s a lot more to take in.Take in a summary of MLB’s new labor agreement. Better yet, read MLB’s 2012-16 CBA in full. But, the idea is simple: allow for more economic parity by tamping down on the amount clubs pay out in bonuses while not putting in a hard-cap. Already there has been talk that maybe the system isn't without its flaws. Stanford's Mark Appel, who most analysts thought would go #1 to the Astros dropped all the way to #8 where the Pirates picked him. Who represents Appel? Super-agent Scott Boras.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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2012-16 Major League Baseball CBA Released to Public PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00

It took 183 days, but Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have finally finished all the details of the latest Basic Agreement that will run from 2012 through 2016.

The agreement—possibly the most sweeping, ever—was reached on Nov. 22nd of last year. The labor agreement sees everything from two additional playoff teams, a Luxury Tax and other changes to the Amateur Draft, and HGH testing as part of the separate drug agreement, just to name a few.

Some details that were not detailed prior when a summary was released of the memorandum of understanding last Nov.

The agreement has an expansive section on International Play

On the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), otherwise known as the Luxury Tax, changes will make it harder for those that break the thresholds repeatedly, by increasing the amount paid to as high as 50 percent. Here’s the breakdown:

(a) For a Club that has an Actual Club Payroll above the Tax

Threshold in the 2012 Contract Year, the applicable Competitive

Balance Tax rate shall be:

(i) 20% if the Club did not exceed the Tax Threshold in the 2011 Contract Year;

(ii) 30% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the 2011 Contract Year was 22.5%;

(iii) 40% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the 2011 Contract Year was 30%; and

(iv) 42.5% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the 2011 Contract Year was 40%.

(b) For a Club that has an Actual Club Payroll above the Tax

Threshold in the 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 Contract Year, the applicable Competitive Balance Tax rate shall be:

(i) 17.5% if the Club did not exceed the Tax Threshold in the preceding Contract Year;

(ii) 30% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the preceding Contract Year was 17.5% or 20%;

(iii) 40% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the preceding Contract Year was 30%; and

(iv) 50% if the Club’s Competitive Balance Tax rate in the preceding Contract Year was 40, 42.5%, or 50%.

Details on whether there will be an International Draft are also part of the agreement as an attachment. As a matter of upcoming dates on the calendar and activities that would have to occur for an International Draft to take place, the following is part of the attachment:

No draft of international amateur players may be implemented in 2013 unless the following conditions are satisfied by June 1, 2012:

1. A new agreement is reached with the Mexican League consistent with paragraph I.D.10 above.

2. The protocol agreements with the Korean Professional Baseball League, the Japanese Professional Baseball League, and the Taiwan R.O.C. are revised, consistent with paragraph I.D.11 above.

3. A league and/or additional DSL teams to provide playing opportunities for undrafted/unsigned players are organized to begin play no later than June of the year in which a draft covering international amateurs is scheduled to begin.

4. The country-by-country plans referred to in paragraph D.4 above have been completed for the countries of origin of at least 85% of the international players signed in 2011.

5. Appropriate understandings are reached with government officials in the Dominican Republic (and other countries as necessary).

6. Agreement is reached on a procedure for regulating representatives of international amateur players.

F. If it believes that the conditions listed in paragraph I.E above have been achieved by June 1, 2012, the Office of the Commissioner may give notice that it intends to commence operation of a draft (or drafts) covering international amateur players for the 2013 season and subsequent seasons. Written notice of such intent must be provided to the MLBPA by no later than June 15, 2012, and such notice must include a detailed explanation of the rules and procedures that the Office of the Commissioner intends to use for the draft. The MLBPA may veto the commencement of a draft (or drafts) covering international amateur players for the 2013 season and subsequent seasons by providing written notice of its objection to the Office of the Commissioner by July 1, 2012.

G. If a draft (or drafts) covering international amateur players does not commence in the 2013 season, and irrespective of whether the conditions set forth in I.E have been satisfied, the Office of the Commissioner may provide notice to the MLBPA that it intends to commence operation of a draft (or drafts) covering international amateur players for the 2014 season and subsequent seasons. Written notice of such intent must be provided to the MLBPA by no later than June 1, 2013, and such notice must include a detailed explanation of the rules and procedures that the Office of the Commissioner intends to use for the draft. The MLBPA may veto the commencement of a draft (or drafts) covering international amateur players for the 2014 season and subsequent seasons by providing written notice of its objection to the Office of the Commissioner by June 15, 2013.

The current CBA expires on Dec. 1, 2016.

There is much, much more that we’ll detail over several articles now that the document is fully available. You can see all 311 pages of it here:

READ THE 2012-16 MLB CBA IN ITS ENTIRETY


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Fitch Rates MLB as A- and Stable, Increases Credit Line PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 15:06

MLBIn a sign that MLB is economically stable and that changes in the latest CBA should allow that prosperity to continue, Fitch Ratings has announced that it has increased Major League Baseball's Club Trust Securitization's $300 million to its senior secured credit facility 'A-'. Additionally, Fitch has affirmed the 'A-' rating on the outstanding $842 million term notes (series 1 - 7 maturing through 2021) and the outstanding senior secured credit facility ($500 million total including the $300 million increase). Fitch gave its Rating Outlook as “Stable.“

Fitch gave several reasons for the ratings increase, which bodes well for MLB’s overall economic health:

  • Solid Underlying League Economics: Debt service supported by large contractual revenue streams from investment grade counterparties. A new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that includes some additional strengthened core elements that promote financial stability and competitive balance. MLB continues to maintain a stable domestic fan attendance and viewership base and growing international fan base.
  • League Oversight and Governance: League's demonstrated willingness to step in and aid 'distressed' franchises. For example the league assisted the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers during ownership issues.
  • Solid Legal Covenants and a Demonstrated Bankruptcy Remote Structure: Structural provisions ensure timely debt service. The MLB Club Trust structure utilizes a bankruptcy-remote securitization of pledged revenues consisting of long-term national broadcast partners in place through 2013. Noteholders benefit from the bankruptcy remote structure, which eliminates team related risks; however, they remain subject to all the fundamental operational risks of MLB.
  • Long History of Television Contracts: Current television contracts run through 2013 with ESPN (Disney; rated 'A' with a Stable Outlook by Fitch), FOX Broadcasting Company (NewsCorp.; rated 'BBB' with a Stable Outlook) and Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) (Time Warner, Inc; rated 'BBB' with a Stable Outlook).
  • Refinancing Risks Expose Teams to Potentially Higher Costs: The bullet maturities associated with the notes and bank renewals associated with the revolving credit facility expose the teams to potentially higher interest costs.

Fitch cited that a ratings action that could possibly push the rating down would be “a significant decline in national television contact rights fees,” which given the current market for media rights deals would be “unlikely.”

The transaction will increase the principal amount of the existing revolving credit notes issued by MLB Trust to $500 million from $200 million under the same terms.

A key part of the ratings change means that clubs will be able to access more money through the league’s credit facility. The increase to the existing revolving facility will also increase of the maximum amount of facility debt to approximately $75 million for participating clubs that are debt service rule (DSR) compliant and approved by MLB. Currently, most of the participating clubs are limited to approximately $55 million of facility debt per club.

MLB clubs will now be subject to the aforementioned DSR based earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) during the most recent year. Under the new agreement, the rule for leverage will now be 8 times (x) EBITDA (and 12x EBITDA for any club which has incurred stadium-related debt to finance construction of a new ballpark or major renovation in the last 10 years). Under the prior agreement MLB's debt service rule of 10x and 15x EBITDA, respectively, was viewed as high. Fitch views the lower leverage thresholds and the oversight of the Commissioner's Office to enforce compliance with the DSR favorably.

Fitch added:

MLB's performance over the last few years during the U.S.'s uncertain economic conditions is a testament to the expected stability and demand for professional baseball in the U.S. and internationally. In 2011, attendance grew approximately 0.5% to 73.4 million after attendance declines in 2008 - 2010 following MLB's record high in 2007 of 79.5 million. Overall, 2012 season-to-date attendance is tracking around 6% higher than 2011. However, Fitch notes some markets that face a combination of severely weakened local economic conditions and lackluster on field performance have seen moderate declines while other teams have performed far better.

Additionally, Fitch notes stability in television viewership over the past decade as a key rating factor. Year-to-date viewership across nationally televised games on FOX, ESPN, TBS and local media broadcasts has been mixed; however, variations are typical early in the season given changes to match-ups year-over-year. MLB's national television contracts currently come due in 2013. Given recent positive trends associated with national television contract renewals in professional sports leagues and on the local level, Fitch expects positive renewals in MLB. Fitch will continue to monitor attendance and viewership levels throughout the season.

Fitch positively views MLB's economic model and financial policies, although a wide disparity exists between the revenues generated by the largest and smaller teams. A team's reliance on local revenues, which fluctuate significantly between small and large markets, and their discretion to spend unreservedly on player salaries can result in greater financial disparity among MLB teams. This disparity has the potential to lead to a less competitive framework for MLB. However, Fitch acknowledges that this disparity is partially mitigated by a revenue sharing transfer in excess of $400 million for 2011. Additionally, Fitch recognizes MLB's long history of viability in good and bad economic times and, more recently, the diversity of MLB clubs that have participated in the postseason since 2000 as important mitigating factors. Furthermore, Fitch notes, despite the range of financial disparity among participating clubs, noteholders are insulated from team level operations given their rights to national broadcast contracts to service debt prior to distributions to teams for operations.

While some teams are facing increased financial pressure due to weak economic conditions impacting attendance levels as well as corporate spending levels on sponsorships and advertising, those teams may be partially insulated in the near term by the high percentage of multi-year contractually obligated stadium-based income streams from luxury suites, club seats, sponsorship and advertising agreements and local broadcasting deals. Nevertheless, potentially lower renewal levels of key revenues at the league and individual team levels, should economic conditions worsen, would financially constrain the league and member teams. A key offset to softening stadium revenue growth include recently signed new and/or extended local broadcasting agreements that are expected to provide additional revenues to support underlying financial stability.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB Fires Longtime Arbitrator, Shyam Das PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 14 May 2012 23:49
Das
MLB has fired impartial arbitrator,
Shyam Das

Major League Baseball has fired longtime independent arbitrator Shaym Das who had been selected to resolve certain labor issues as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Das had been the impartial arbitrator for labor matters between the league and union since 1999. According to The Associated Press, MLB informed Das and the MLB Players Association of the decision last week. The CBA makes provisions for how arbitrators are part of several processes within the player/management relationship. Das ruled over several key rulings, most recently overturning the 50 game suspension of NL MVP Ryan Braun, which the league was extremely upset about going so far shortly after the ruling to leave the possibility of taking the case to Federal Court up in the air. The league opted not to do so, but the ruling set a precedence that played a role in rescinding the 100-game suspension issued to catcher Eliezer Alfonzo on September 14, 2011. As a statement from MLB on Monday said of the joint decision by MLB and the MLBPA to rescind the suspension, “Alfonzo’s grievance challenging his suspension raised issues that were nearly identical to those resolved in the Arbitration involving Ryan Braun.” The league then added that, “It is not anticipated that any other future cases will be impacted by the circumstances raised in the grievances of these two players.”

Players' union executive director Michael Weiner expressed disappointment Monday at Das's dismissal.

"Shyam Das has been served the parties with distinction and professionalism for 13 years," Weiner told USA TODAY Sports. "We think he's an excellent arbitrator.''

The process of firing of the independent arbitrator is part of the labor agreement between the league and union for the players. While the latest version of the Basic Agreement has not yet been released, the 2007-11 CBA reads:

At any time during the term of this Agreement either the Association or the [Labor Relations Department (LRD)] may terminate the appointment of the impartial arbitrator by serving written notice upon him and the other Party; provided that no such termination shall in any way impair the authority of the impartial arbitrator to render awards with respect to matters fully submitted to him. Within 30 days of any such termination, the Association and LRD shall either agree upon a successor impartial arbitrator or select a successor from an American Arbitration Association list, as set forth [in the CBA].

In terms of finding a replacement for Das, the (prior) CBA specifies the following:

“Arbitration Panel” shall mean the impartial arbitrator or, where either Party elects in advance of the opening of the hearing in a matter, a tripartite panel so empowered and composed of the impartial arbitrator and two party arbitrators, one appointed by the Association, the other appointed by the LRD. The impartial arbitrator, who shall in all instances be designated as the Panel Chair, shall be appointed by agreement of the Association and the LRD. In the event the Association and the LRD are unable to agree upon the appointment of the impartial arbitrator, they jointly shall request that the American Arbitration Association furnish them a list of prominent, professional arbitrators. Upon receipt of said list, they shall alternate in striking names from the list until only one remains. The arbitrator whose name remains shall be deemed appointed as the impartial arbitrator.

Das was involved in all cases in which a player that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs appealed to the arbitrator, as outlined in the drug agreement. Until Braun, Das had never overruled a suspension by the league.

He was also involved in MLB’s attempt at contraction in 2001-02. Das heard testimony from the league and others in the case after the MLBPA filed a grievance to block the contraction of the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins. Other cases included cutting Braves reliever John Rocker from 45 days to 14, and also cut his fine from $20,000 to $500 for scathing comments Rocker made to Sports Illustrated.

Das was not only involved in matters involving MLB and the MLBPA. Currently he is the arbitrator assigned to address the “Bountygate” case with the New Orleans Saints.

The AP provided a history of the arbitrators that have been assigned to resolve matters with MLB and the MLB Players Association as part of the story on Das’ dismissal. As reported:

Das took over as baseball's permanent arbitrator from Cornell professor Dana Eischen, who was hired in December 1997 but quit after ruling the following May against J.D. Drew's grievance seeking free agency.

Many of baseball's grievance arbitrators have had brief tenures, with the list including Lewis Gill (1970-72), Gabriel Alexander (1972-74), Peter Seitz (1974-75), Alexander Porter (1977-79), Raymond Goetz (1979-83), Richard Bloch (1983-85), Thomas Roberts (1985-86), George Nicolau (1986-95), Nicholas Zumas (1995-97) and Eischen (1997-98).

Joseph Sickles heard one case in 1976, and temporary arbitrators were used between Eischen and Das.

Seitz was fired after he ruled against owners in the Andy Messersmith-Dave McNally reserve clause case that led to free agency. Roberts was fired after deciding management colluded against free agents between the 1985 and 1986 seasons.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB, MLBPA Close Loopholes Around Personal-Service, "Marketing" Clauses PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:06
MLBPA

Kiss personal-service and “milestone” marketing clauses in MLB goodbye. Going forward, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to stop allowing those aspects into contracts following  deals by Albert Pujols and Ryan Zimmerman, according to a report by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

In those contracts, both players were offered personal-service clauses – salary after the player retired. As detailed on The Biz of Baseball regarding Pujols’ contract:

After the 10-year deal expires in 2021 (or possibly earlier, depending on how his play goes), a new 10-year deal kicks in. The sides agree that after the expiration of the contract or Pujols' retirement as a player, they will enter into a 10-year personal services relationship and Pujols will be paid $1 million annually, or $10 million total. What is involved in the contract is not totally known, but we can assume that one possible route would be to use Pujols as a hitting coach, or possibly an emissary for the Angels in a PR capacity.

Zimmerman gets a five year, $10 million personal service contract at the end of his deal. Both Zimmerman and Pujols will be grandfathered in. No further provisions of that type will be allowed.

Also, the league and union for the players agreed that provisions that allowed for “marketing agreements” would no longer be allowed. This aspect was in the Pujols deal and prior with Alex Rodriguez. As part of the Pujols deal, he receives $3 million payment for 3,000 hits and a $7 million payment for 763 home runs.

As Stark reports, Michael Weiner, executive director of the players union, also confirmed the new rules, saying: "Both clauses raise questions under the Basic Agreement, and both parties felt they should not be a subject of individual negotiations."

While the latest CBA has not yet released to the public, the 2007-11 agreement reads on page 22 (page 10 after the Table of Contents):

(6) Other Forms of Additional Compensation

All other forms of compensation, including but not limited to the following, are not addressed herein and are to be determined according to the facts in each situation:

(a) payments for performing services for a Club in addition to skilled services as a baseball player;

Stark adds at the end of his piece:

One source also told ESPN.com that baseball is trying to close loopholes that teams might be able to use to avoid paying luxury tax, and both of these provisions fall under that heading because neither milestone bonuses nor personal-services deals are considered to be guaranteed money.

Maybe some of you are recalling the loophole that the Red Sox used on contracts with Josh Beckett and later with Adrian Gonzalez. In those deals, the Red Sox were looking to avoid having their salaries count against the Luxury Tax for the season in which the deal was reached. The loophole was that if you signed the player after Opening Day, the Luxury Tax computations rolled over to the following year.

So, what Stark speaks of in his piece today is not what this is about. That’s because that loophole was closed as part of the new labor deal. Stark touched on this as part of his piece on Cole Hamels (see blog post, Don’t discount Blue Jays’ great spring under the subheading “Strike Two – Luxury Lane Dept.”)

The rule now goes like this, according to sources familiar with the new labor agreement:

• If Hamels signs a long-term deal before Opening Day 2012 and his $15 million salary for 2012 doesn't change, he and his team would have the right to choose whether they want the luxury-tax computations to begin with his 2012 salary or with the rest of the extension, beginning in 2013.

• If he signs an extension at any point during the season, the luxury-tax stuff automatically kicks in starting in 2013.

But the moral of the story is, it doesn't matter when he signs. The Phillies can put off the luxury-tax pain until next year if they were to get a deal done this weekend, next weekend or on Labor Day weekend.

So, the league and MLBPA are firming up contract language, none of which are likely to make agents happy. Such is the cat and mouse game that’s been raging since free agency came about in MLB in 1974.

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Complete List of 243 Foriegn-Born Players on 2012 Opening Day Rosters PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:47

MLBTwo-hundred forty-three players on 2012 Opening Day 25-man rosters and inactive lists were born outside the 50 United States, it was announced today.  This year’s percentage of 28.4 marks the third highest of all-time and is up from 27.7 in both 2010 and 2011.

The 243 players born outside the United States came from a pool of 856 players (749 active 25-man roster players and 107 disabled or restricted Major League players) on April 4th rosters and represent 15 countries and territories outside the U.S.  The 28.4 percent trails only 2005, when 29.2 percent (242/829) of Opening Day players were foreign-born, and 2007, when 246 players – 29.0 percent of all players – were born outside the U.S.  In addition, this year’s 243 foreign-born players rank as the second-most in history, trailing only the 2007 high of 246.  Last season, 234 out of 846 players were foreign-born, totaling 27.7 percent.

The Dominican Republic again leads the Major Leagues with 95 players born outside the U.S, which is the second-most the nation has produced on Opening Day rosters, behind its 99 in 2007.  Venezuela ranks second with 66 players, its highest total ever on Opening Day rosters.  Canada ranks third with 15 players, followed by Japan (13); Cuba (11); Puerto Rico (11); Mexico (9); Panama (7); Curaçao (4); Australia (4); Nicaragua (3); Taiwan (2); Colombia (1); Italy (1); and South Korea (1).  The three Nicaraguan-born players are the most on Opening Day rosters since 1995, when MLB began to release annual Opening Day data.  Cuba matched its high of 11 set in 2002 and 2011, and Curaçao tied its high of four set in 2009.  In addition, infielder Alex Liddi, the first Italian-born and developed player to play Major League Baseball after debuting last September, made the Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day roster.  Liddi, 23, is just the seventh Italian-born player in Major League history and the first since infielder Reno Bertoia in 1962.  Liddi is the first alumnus of the MLB International European Academy, which was established in 2005, to make an Opening Day roster.

The Kansas City Royals, the hosts of the 2012 All-Star Game, have the most foreign-born players with a total of 13, followed by the Colorado Rockies and the New York Yankees, who each have 12.  Three Clubs – the Milwaukee Brewers, the New York Mets and the Mariners – each have 11 foreign-born players.  The Yankees have players from seven different countries and territories outside the United States: Canada, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

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Derek Jeter, Cliff Lee, Albert Pujols Top-Selling Jerseys in MLB for 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 14:22
Jeter
Derek Jeter was MLB's top-selling jersey in '11

Gear. If you’re a fan of baseball, you’ve got some. A cap… a jersey. You’ve probably got one or both.

But, when you think about being a fan and your favorite active player, owning a jersey is to show you’re elegance.

Today, MLB and the MLBPA released info on jersey sales for last year with 4 of the top 20 jerseys by sales numbers coming from the Yankees, Jeter, A-Rod, Cano, and Rivera).

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim top the list of MLB Most Popular Jerseys based on sales of official Majestic jerseys for the 2011 calendar year.

Seven players – Robinson Cano, Carl Crawford, David Freese, Adrian Gonzalez, Hunter Pence, Mariano Rivera and Justin Verlander – who did not make last year’s list cracked the top 20 this time around. Players representing 11 different MLB Clubs make up the list of top 20 most popular jerseys, with seven different clubs in the top ten. In addition, 12 of the top 20 players are under the age of 30. The Phillies and Yankees, the teams with the two best records last season, each have four players in the top 20. The top 20 include nine infielders, five pitchers, four outfielders and two catchers. Of the top 20, 12 were All-Stars in 2011 and 14 played on teams that reached the Postseason.

MLB Most Popular Jerseys
Based on Majestic 2011 sales figures
1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
2. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
3. *Albert Pujols, LA Angels of Anaheim
4. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
5. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
6. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
7. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
8. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
9. *Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies
10. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
11. Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
12. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
13. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
14. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
15. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
16. Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
17. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
18. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
19. Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
20. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals

Source: MLB, MLBPA

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Bud Selig’s Comments Before MLB's 2012 Opening Night PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 18:16

Selig

By now it’s a well-worn tradition that the commissioner of baseball talk up how well Major League Baseball is doing before a season starts. And, 2012 is no different as Commissioner Selig is on-hand at the inaugural game the new Marlins Park.

Addressing the media, Selig said the following:

On Marlins Park: On the "I just stood out on the field & looked around. All you can say is, `Wow.'" (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

On Marlins Park: "I have no trepidation in saying that 10 years from now, people will say this was a tremendous thing for this city." (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

On the mega-deal that Joey Votto reached with the Reds: "Some signings I'm not wild about, but that isn't one of them." (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

On getting the A’s into a new ballpark, we’re no closer: "Like every other problem we've had, it will be solved." (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

On a new ballpark for the Rays, Selig touts patience: "Five or 10 years ago, you could make a case this (Marlins Park) would never happen" (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

On the DH: It will take a catalytic event" to put the DH in both leagues or kill it in both. (Jayson Stark via Twitter)

Finally, Selig, in an interview with the SportsBusiness Daily said that he believes MLB will see a 3-5% attendance increase in 2012. We agree. In fact, it could be higher. See what we said on March 1.

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Scarborough Sports Releases Info on Gen Y Interest in MLB PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 14:29

MLBWhile baseball has been pained as a stogy old-man’s game, the fact is that, yes, MLB has a young audience. As the 2012 season gets fully underway tomorrow when the Marlins host the Cardinals on ESPN, Scarborough Sports Marketing has released data on Generation Y Major League Baseball fans. Generation Y, defined as American adults age 18 to 29, make up 20% (46M) of the American adult population and 44% of them are MLB Fans. According to Scarborough:

  • 30% of Gen Y MLB Fans are willing to spend $25-$49 on a single game MLB ticket.
  • 12% of Gen Y MLB Fans are interested in purchasing season tickets.
  • Gen Y MLB Fans are 37% more likely than all MLB Fans to have bought MLB apparel with a team logo in the past 12 months.
  • The season opener will be between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins. 72% of Gen Y St. Louis residents watched, attended or listened to a Cardinals game in the past year and 36% of Gen Y Miami residents watched, attended or listened to a Marlins game in the same time period.

Some thoughts on the report…

The idea that less than a third of Gen Y MLB fans are willing to purchase a single game ticket in the defined price range isn’t exactly great news. While there are tickets priced below that threshold, the majority of tickets, aren’t.

On the flip side, you get 12 percent interested in purchasing season tickets. The bad news is, Scarborough doesn’t say how many of that 12 percent actually acted on it.

The third bullet point is interesting in that baseball merchandise is seen as a fashion trend that is increasing. One need only look at some of the colorway options available (pink hats for women, all red Yankee or all green Red Sox, as well as pretty much all teams represented as black hats with black logos) shows that MLB as a purely fashion statement – something that may be outside of interest in “baseball” – is trending with Gen Y.

On the last bullet-point… well, this should be expected. The Cardinals, of course, won the World Series last year. The Marlins haven’t been relevant since last winning the World Series in 2003. However, getting back to the “fashion” aspect, while one can quibble with whether the new Miami Marlins logos and uniform colors “work”, it is new, and in that, fans will likely purchase the merchandise. And, let’s not forget that the additions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Heath Bell, and Ozzie Gullien (plus having the Marlins be the subject team for this year’s edition of “The Franchise” on Showtime) will give the Marlins increased marketability. Expect interest in the Marlins to go up considerably this year.

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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