Wednesday, February 18, 2009

iPhone Blogging: More on DYoung

Hey gang, time for a quick experiment with the new iBlogger tool that I've just downloaded. Let's try some short takes with it....

- Seth over at Seth Speaks
got the definitive answer that Delmon Young does not have any options left. Which means that the info about a 'split' contract was essentially meaningless.

- Then, in yesterday's podcast with Seth, Pioneer Press beat writer Phil Miller suggested that the report about the 'split contract' probably came from an agent and not from the ballclub. I suppose it makes sense that an agent would reveal that in a sort of bitter manner, but it still begs the question: why would the Twins even use a split contract? They can't truly believe they'll be able to send him down. I suppose it could be because they want to send a message, but without any big stick behind that vague threat, the message could just as easily be interpreted as "We are angry but essentially impotent."

-Speaking of messages, on Seth's podcast last night Miller talked about the post-it note pad full of messages that the Twins have delivered Young's way this offseason, including at Twins Fest last month.

- Finally, I made an appearance on the podcast too last night. Seth pitted me against Nick Nelson in a battle royale over Joe Crede and the outfielder glut. Nick won, but I fought valiantly, like an older but much more handsome William Wallace. Oh, except I didn't impregnate his daughter-in-law, which would have been a nice touch.

Ok, I've officially started iBabbling, so let's wrap this up. Wish me luck. I'm about to try posting this......

Monday, February 16, 2009

Geek Confusion: Delmon Young's 'Split' Contract

Someone help a poor time-deprived blogger out here.....

Why the hell does it matter that the Twins offered Delmon Young a 'Split' contract?

A 'split' contract, for those who are wondering, is a contract that specifies the amount of money that a player makes in the majors and a different amount of money that they make in the minors. Publicizing the split aspect of this contract is in line with other rumors that the Twins have floated this offseason that seem intended to motivate Young, like him being traded, or him sitting on the bench.

But the real question, which I'm shocked that nobody is asking, is "Can they send Young to the minors?" Because previously, the answer seemed to be "Not unless they are incredibly stupid."

And usually, the Twins aren't. So what's going on?

Young, I thought, signed a major league contract back in 2003, which meant he was on the major league roster. So his three "options" were used by Tampa Bay in 2004, 2005, and 2006. To try to send him down would require him to clear waivers, which would NEVER happen.

If they can send him to Rochester, then we have a legitmately gripping story for spring training. Both he and Carlos Gomez seemingly could use some Triple-A seasoning, at least given the Twins philosophical leanings. If Young is protected by his lack of options, than Gomez is the leading candidate to miss out on a starting spot this spring. But if Young is also eligible to be demoted, then HE becomes the leading candidate.

Has anyone figured this situation out and can let a poor Twins Geek in on the secret?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back of the Napkin: Twins Revenues, Part 1

What makes good writing? Opinions? Accuracy? Insight? Lots of question marks? Yes, yes, yes and absolutely yes. But Rule 1 is “Keep it entertaining.” And rule 2 is “There is no rule 2.”

Which brings me to why I'm writing: Rule 1 might be a problem today. But we’re gonna give it a try.

I expect Rule 1 is a good chunk of the reason I’ve never really seen an in-depth analysis of any major league baseball team’s revenue streams. That’s my conclusion after researching a story about the Twins revenue streams for this year’s GameDay program. And that surprises me because I had previously though that it was either too private or too complicated.

It’s private, but not too private. Turns out there are a lot of business magazines and authors that follow this stuff and piece things together. Even the web site has primers on the central fund, the luxury tax, and revenue sharing. There’s also no shortage of reports on television and radio contracts that can provide some rough numbers. And in the Twins case, we discovered an interesting public domain document a year ago that broke down anticipated revenues from their 2007 season.

And it’s also not too complicated, provided the level of specificity you’re looking for doesn’t go beyond “back-of-the-napkin” numbers. For instance, say I wanted to figure out the Twins revenue on program/scorecard sales. If I had a decent idea of their paid distribution and their price, I’d have a good idea of that revenue.

But today, we’re going to go a level higher than that and concentrate on that public domain document. The document is actually the 2008 budget for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which oversees the Metrodome. Its purpose is to explain the 2008 budget for that body. And to do so, it examines the 2007 activity of that commission, including lots of details about the revenues of the Twins, Vikings and Gophers.

For instance, on page 4, we see “MN Twins Share of concession receipts” for 2007 (Projection) spelled out. It’s $5,920,000. And it appears that is only inside the dome, because a few lines below it we see “MN Twins share of plaza concessions receipts” which totals another $217,800. Which brings us to a grand total of $6,090,000.

You know what? This is already getting dry. Let’s try and jazz it up with a little graphic that we can display every time we want to add up these numbers:

Ooh, that’s better. One more note before we move on from the concessions revenues– it doesn’t appear to include novelties. The commission receives money from the sale those novelties, but that must come from the Twins. How much do the Twins make? We can’t really tell, but the Commission’s cut was $145,895. I’d be shocked if the Twins' was less, so we’ll add that too.

There’s one more thing we should talk about on page 4 midway down the page. It’s a “Facilities Cost Credit” for $3,384,000. It’s not explained on this page, but it is on page 12:

“In 1998 the Commission created the facilities cost credit to assist the MN Twins, MN Vikings and University of Minnesota football Gophers in enhancing team revenues and/or reducing event day cost of operation in the Metrodome. Since 1999 the Commission has issued an annual payment to the MN Twins and the University of Minnesota football Gophers that is equal to the admissions tax paid by each team for their events in the Metrodome.”

Near as I can tell, that means that the Twins are supposed to be paying a $.10 per dollar admissions tax for every ticket sold, but in 1999 the Commission decided they would refund that money to the Twins. So we can add that to the Twins total.

But that doesn’t seem to be the only rebate the MSFC gives the Twins, because on page 8, there’s another line item called “MN Twins Reimbursed expenses” for $2,140,000. There’s no explanation, but the line item code isn’t equal to anything else we’ve tracked so far, so let’s add that.

And, of course, we haven’t figured out ticket revenue yet, either. The commission doesn’t say what the Twins took in as ticket revenue, but it does tell us the attendance (2,200,000) and the average price per ticket ($17.92). Multiplying them together gets us $39,424,000, which should at least be in the ballpark. When we add that to our other numbers, the grand total is….

So is that all of the Twins revenue? Not by a long shot. In 2007, the Twins had a payroll of $70M, and given their claim of budgeting payroll to be around 52% or revenues, their total revenues should be closer to $134M. So we have about $83M more to find.

And we will. This is only one document. We haven’t reviewed the luxury tax, revenue sharing, TV contracts, radio contracts, the “Central Fund” or the aptly nicknamed “BAM." We’ll get to that in parts 2 and 3. Possibly as soon as next week.

So, can this ever be entertaining?