He is a huge man. The soon to be 30 year old is 6’4″ and near 250 lbs. When he comes to the batter’s box, his shadow precedes him to plate nearly as soon as he steps out of the dugout. Nearly everyone looks up to him. He is massive. And his power is impressive. It is not often that opposing players come out to view the other team’s batting practice. But they do to see Mr Carter pound ball after ball into the stands.
In his seven years in the Big Leagues, he has hit 150 home runs in 688 games. That means that 21.8% of the games in which he bats, the ball leaves the yard. In fan terms that means he lofts one each series. Wow!
The home run has always been the ‘hit of choice’ for the fans since Babe recreated baseball in the ’20s. In 2.503 games, the ‘Sultan of Swat’ banged 714 home runs. For the stat geeks, that a lofty 28.5% of the games he played in, the crowd stood and cheered for another home run.
No. Mr. Carter is no Babe Ruth. The problem is Mr. Carter is on his way to another team. It will be is fourth team in eight years. And he is the National League Home Run Champion. Yet the lowly Milwaukee Brewers don’t want to pay for such power and gave him his papers. They are replacing him with a Korean League first baseman.
Mr. Carter strikes out a lot. He has led the league in strike outs twice, including this past season. He has struck out 875 times in 688 games (that’s 1.27/game). Fans do not like strike outs. He did that 206 times last season, setting a Brewers’ record. Babe did that less than 1 per game (0.82/game).
In Milwaukee, there is a legacy of great first baseman. From George Scott to Cecil Cooper, Richie Sexson to Prince Fielder, this is the standard of excellence any first baseman in Cream City has to measure up to.
Prince 998 games 230 home runs 656 RBI 779 KOs .929 OPS (7 years)
Sexson 534 games 133 home runs 398 RBI 528 KOs .902 OPS (4 years)
Cooper 1490 games 241 home runs 944 RBI 721 KOs .809 OPS (11 years)
Scott 782 games 115 home runs 463 RBI 529 KOs .798 OPS (5 years)
69 Minchner 140 games 25 home runs 78 RBI 69 KOs .829 OPS
70 Hegan 148 games 11 home runs 52 RBI 116 KOs .701 OPS
71 Briggs 125 games 21 home runs 59 RBI 79 KOs .845 OPS
72 Scott 152 games 20 home runs 88 RBI 130 KOs .746 OPS
73 Scott 158 games 24 home runs 107 RBI 94 KOs .858 OPS
74 Scott 158 games 17 home runs 82 RBI 90 KOs .777 OPS
75 Scott 158 games 38 home runs 109 RBI 97 KOs .857 OPS
76 Scott 156 games 18 home runs 77 RBI 118 KOs .748 OPS
77 Cooper 160 games 20 home runs 78 RBI 110 KOs .789 OPS
78 Cooper 107 games 13 home runs 54 RBI 72 KOs .833 OPS
79 Cooper 150 games 24 home runs 106 RBI 77 KOs .872 OPS
80 Cooper 153 games 25 home runs 122 RBI 42 KOs .926 OPS
81 Cooper 106 games 12 home runs 60 RBI 30 KOs .858 OPS
82 Cooper 155 games 32 home runs 121 RBI 53 KOs .870 OPS
83 Cooper 160 games 30 home runs 126 RBI 63 KOs .849 OPS
84 Cooper 148 games 11 home runs 67 RBI 59 KOs .693 OPS
85 Cooper 154 games 16 home runs 99 RBI 77 KOs .779 OPS
86 Cooper 134 games 12 home runs 75 RBI 87 KOs .682 OPS
87 Brock 141 games 13 home runs 85 RBI 63 KOs .809 OPS
88 Brock 115 games 6 home runs 50 RBI 48 KOs .649 OPS
89 Brock 107 games 12 home runs 52 RBI 49 KOs .750 OPS
90 Brock 127 games 7 home runs 50 RBI 45 KOs .692 OPS
91 Stubbs 103 games 11 home runs 38 RBI 71 KOs .641 OPS
92 Stubbs 92 games 9 home runs 42 RBI 68 KOs .665 OPS
93 Jaha 153 games 19 home runs 70 RBI 109 KOs .753 OPS
94 Jaha 89 games 12 home runs 34 RBI 75 KOs .412 OPS
95 Jaha 88 games 20 home runs 65 RBI 66 KOs .968 OPS
96 Jaha 148 games 30 home runs 118 RBI 118 KOs .941 OPS
97 Nilsson 156 games 20 home runs 81 RBI 88 KOs .798 OPS
98 Jaha 73 games 7 home runs 38 RBI 66 KOs .709 OPS
99 Loretta 153 games 5 home runs 67 RBI 59 KOs .744 OPS
00 Sexson 57 games 14 home runs 47 RBI 63 KOs .957 OPS
01 Sexson 158 games 45 home runs 125 RBI 60 KOs .889 OPS
02 Sexson 157 games 29 home runs 102 RBI 136 KOs .867 OPS
03 Sexson 162 games 45 home runs 124 RBI 151 KOs .927 OPS
04 Overbay 159 games 16 home runs 87 RBI 128 KOs .863 OPS
05 Overbay 158 games 19 home runs 72 RBI 98 KOs .816 OPS
06 Fielder 157 games 28 home runs 81 RBI 125 KOs .831 OPS
07 Fielder 158 games 50 home runs 119 RBI 121 KOs 1.013 OPS
08 Fielder 159 games 34 home runs 102 RBI 132 KOs .879 OPS
09 Fielder 162 games 46 home runs 141 RBI 138 KOs 1.014 OPS
10 Fielder 161 games 32 home runs 83 RBI 138 KOs .871 OPS
11 Fielder 162 games 38 home runs 120 RBI 106 KOs .981 OPS
12 Hart 149 games 30 home runs 83 RBI 151 KOs .841 OPS
13 Francisco 89 games 13 home runs 32 RBI 95 KOs .733 OPS
14 Reynolds 130 games 22 home runs 45 RBI 122 KOs .681 OPS
15 Lind 149 games 20 home runs 87 RBI 100 KOs .820 OPS
16 Carter 160 games 41 home runs 94 RBI 206 KOs .821 OPS
The Cream City Nine was at its best when it had a great first baseman. Both Cooper and Fielder led their teams to the post season. Both were the heart of their teams.
With Mr Carter moving on, this team is looking for their heart once again.
Many people in life have ‘a moment’. And, in the annuals of life, one time…..just one time, a person has ‘the moment’. It is defining.
On Friday with most of the crowd headed for the parking lot, the 31 year old rookie sensation, Junior Guerra, was pitching a gem for the Cream City Nine. He had stepped into the top of the ninth against the mighty Pirates, having giving up only two hits the entire evening and now was leading 3-0. He appeared to be in complete control.
His journey in Pigsville had begun, not against the Pittsburgh nine, but when rookie General Manager, David Stearns’ made his first official move after being hired in that position. He claimed, last Fall, one Junior Guerra off waivers from the Chicago White Sox. As Manager, Craig Counsell said, ‘I don’t think anybody accurately forecasted this. But he was claimed for a reason. He was claimed because we thought there were possibilities there and there was talent there. We thought he was a guy that had gone about it in a really different way and got to this place in a really different way, but that he was a really good pitcher at this point. This level of success, maybe not. But yeah, I think we thought he’d have success.’
And he showed his confidence that really wasn’t at all about the Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hazel of this generation, but rather the rookie manager’s grasp of the psychology of the game. In the 9th inning, Junior had begun with only 87 pitches and Counsell was attempting to have his starting pitcher finish a complete game, the first complete game for the Brewers since last July. The first batter, Matt Joyce, got a single. Then John Jaso was walked. Two on, nobody out, Gregory Polanco was coming to the plate as the tying run.
It is one thing to face Jaso, but it was quite another to face this guy before the big guy in the Buc’s lineup.
The eyes of the 29,000+ were all on the manager in the dugout. Would he come out and bring in, what has been, a very iffy bullpen to try to wrap up the game? Or would he let his rookie pitcher try to complete the game in style? It was the beginning of ‘The Moment’ that will live with Brewer fans forever. Out came Counsell, looking quickly right down the first base line, then eyes down and walked up toward the mound as he approached the pitcher and the gathering infielders, Carter, Gennett, Villar and Jonathan Lucroy (in his last inning and game as a Brewer?).
Collectively the crowd at Miller Park was disappointed expecting the manager to accept the ball from his pitcher. But now he became a fan-legend in the land of beer, brats and cheese. With Guerra offering the ball to the manager, Counsell refused to accept his pitcher’s decision and slapped him on the back and it was now his game to try to finish. With stunning and overwhelming approval and cheers from everyone in the crowd and those watching on television, Counsell left the mound, with an astonished pitcher receiving slaps with the gloves of the other players on the mound. This was ‘The Moment’ when the guy from Whitefish Bay proved to be the next great Brewer manager, in the shadows of George Bamberger and Harvey Kuenn. Right then and there, Craig Counsell would be marked in history as doing something that most in the stands had never seen. But to be truthful, all were very happy to see. What a confidence booster. This was one giant step for the kid from Whitefish Bay.
The rest of the story, although a bit bizarre, finished with a win. Polanco hit into a fielder’s choice as Carter forced the runner at second. Andrew McCutcheon hit into another fielders choice to drive in Pittsburgh’s only run when Marte singled off the head of the second base umpire before Jeffers relieved Guerra and retired Kang to end the game with another (sic) Brewers victory. While the details of the game were unusual, THE story was about the decision that Counsell made on this historic night. ‘I really wanted him to get through the inning’, Counsell said of Guerra. ‘I thought he pitched like he deserved to, and I don’t think he was tiring or anything like that. I thought he was still making pitches.’
Guerra had won his seventh game of the year. He had lowered his ERA to a most respectable 2.70, ranking him #8 among Major League starters, just behind Stephen Strasburg and ahead of Jake Arrieta. And for all the stat rats, in 16 starts over 103.1 innings this season, the ‘Velvet Venezuelan’ has posted a 3.67 FIP, and an 85/34 K/BB rate while generating ground balls (46.3%) and infield pop ups (11%) along with a 20.8% K rate and an 11% swinging strike rate.
But the real story that will live well beyond the wins and losses of the pitcher will be…’Do you remember the time when Counsell walked out to the mound and kept the pitcher in the game?’ That will be ‘The Moment’. And that is when Whitefish Bay’s favorite son became THE manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in the minds of the Crew’s faithful forever.
In an effort of gigantic proportion, the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club in an attempt to sign every single minor league player in the universe, traded one of their remaining veterans, Aaron Hill to the Boston Red Sox this week for two minor leaguers they did not have, one a 27 year old rehab pitcher and the other a poor hitting infielder. We do not give names in this column for fear we will never hear of them…again.
Thus the tale. There are a couple of veterans remaining. They are all trade bait to find out if a community will come out to a stadium to watch players they have no attachment to. One of the remaining veterans is Mr. Chris Carter who on Friday hit his 21st and 22nd home run this season to put him in position to be the first player to hit 40 home runs in a season since the days of Ryan Braun when he was using…the stuff that reduces pain which nobody ever takes. Ah…those were the days. For Mr Carter, he is now a marked man for one, Mr. Stearns, the neophyte general manager of the Cream City Nine, to showcase in his talks with the clubs who have the few remaining non-Brewer minor leaguers available. In a most unusual method of rebuilding a team, it is the ‘If I own them all, I can control them all’ newbie philosophy of baseball rebuild, this first year General Manager is attempting to make his mark and reshape the entire way baseball thinks about rebuilding teams. Amazingly, in the Hill trade, they still will have to pay the remainder of Mr. Hill’s salary along with an added $1 million bonus Mr. Hill earned when traded. But, the GM did get two more minor leaguers for his trophy case.
Besides Mr. Carter, he has ‘Scooter Gannett, Ryan Braun and the ever popular Jonathan Lucroy to trade yet this season to make it a complete rebuild of names of major leaguers. For Milwaukee fans come August, you really won’t be able to tell who is on the team without a program, which the Brewers will begin to charge for seeing a new way of revenue generation for this new generation of Brewer fans who will follow anything on the field of play as long as the beer and brats availability don’t run out.
As for the owner, he is usually relaxing in his Southern California home running his other business and phoning it in. But he was sighted in his box next to the Crew’s dugout on Saturday. He isn’t worrying. He is about to make a ton of money once the MLABAM deal with Disney closes later this year.
Yup. Quite a year in Pigsville. They have a team with no names…with many more to come up because of the bulging numbers in the minors…and an always smiling happy owner who doesn’t have to live in the Potawatomi ‘Gathering Place By The Water’ and hear the discontent populace quietly complain on talk radio about the shambles he has put on the field under the guise of ‘rebuilding’ yet again.
Besides, he is getting fabulously rich. The MLBAM deal is massive and will give him more than he paid for the franchise and then some. But fans you don’t mind our very own Trump-ian making all that money. After all, he bought the team from the original owners family and kept them in Milwaukee.
Besides, he does give to charity. And he does own a house/condo in Milwaukee.
As for Mr Carter, all off those home runs you have been hitting this season just puts a mark on your back. You are about to be shifted out of here for players to be named later.
That’s what it appears Mr. Stearns does best. He is a collector of minor leaguers. And in his way of thinking, if he owns and controls them all, other teams will eventually have to come to him to get their players in the future.
Only one problem.
Does anyone want the bunch of unproven, over-the-hill has-beens he has collected?
Baseball is one of the best indicator of things to come, particularly when it comes to television. While football may have been made for television, television has made baseball unequally equal. This year there will be more money pumped into the game than ever before. Why? It was decided a few years ago, that ‘LIVE’ television was the key to survival for television networks, whether they are broadcast or cable, to fill the 24/7 programming blocks while the world waits for the next resting place for the millions of eyeballs who are moving through the Millennial stage. Traditionally, television was THE place to reach people. And advertisers, as they always do, flock to wherever the opportunity presents itself to get in front of those who would, could or should buy.
Now, television, especially cable network television, is betting on sports, particularly baseball, to attract the eyeballs of the constantly moving population both via legacy standards at home and most importantly digital/mobile platforms. From April through September, for six solid months, baseball will be front and center. No other sport has the completeness of dominant and ever-changing information as does baseball for this length of time. It is every day news and information. And when you throw in March as Spring Training gets underway, television finds itself gearing up. Take October when the World Series is the ultimate goal, you now have eight months of solid baseball.
Baseball has just finished one of its best hauls in its history. Consider this:
Los Angeles Dodgers $150 million annual rights fees (thru 2038)
Philadelphia Phillies $129 million annual rights fees ($2.5-$3.0B 20-25yrs) +25% SSN Philadelphia
Houston Astros $ 60 million annual rights fees
Texas Rangers $ 80 million annual rights fees +10% FOX Sports Southwest (thru 2034)
Arizona Diamondbacks $ 75 million annual rights fees (2016 to 2036) + %of FOX Sports Arizona
Chicago White Sox $ 72.9 million annual (@$450,000/gm. + 40% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Chicago Cubs $ 72.9 million annual (@$450,000/gm +20% of Comcast SportsNet Chicago (thru 2019)
LA Angeles Anaheim $147 million annual rights fees + 25% FOX Sports West (thru 2028)
San Diego Padres $ 60 million annual rights fees +20% FOX Sports San Diego (thru 2031)
New York Yankees $100 million annual rights fees ($367 million in 2042 for 49% of YES)
New York Mets $ 83 million annual rights fees +65% of SNY -25 year contract) (thru 3032)
Boston Red Sox $ 60 million annual rights fees +80% NESN
San Francisco Giants $ 30 million annual rights fees (+ percentage of SCNBA. + 30-33% ownership Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)
Seattle Mariners $115 million annual rights fees (purchased ROOT NW worth $100 million/yrx20 yrs) (thru 2030)
Cleveland Indians $ 40 million annual from sale of SportsTime Ohio ($400 million over 10 years)
Detroit Tigers $ 40 million annual rights fees (thru 2017) FS Detroit
Toronto Blue Jays $ 36 million (adjusted annually) Owned by Rogers SportsNet. No expiration.
St. Louis Cardinals $ 14 million (2016) + $35 million (2017) $55 million (2018-2033)
Baltimore Orioles* $ 29 million annual rights fees +87% of MASN
Washington Nationals $ 29 million annual rights fees +13% of MASN fee reset every 5 years
Minnesota Twins $ 29 million annual
Colorado Rockies $ 20 million (expires in 2020)
Tampa Bay Rays $ 20 million (thru 2016)
Cincinnati Reds $ 20 million (Thru 2016)
Kansas City Royals $ 19 million (thru 2019)
Miami Marlins $ 18 million (thru 2020)
Pittsburgh Pirates $ 18 million (thru 2019)
Milwaukee Brewers $ 21 million (thru 2019)
Oakland A’s $ 43 million (opt out after 2023)
Atlanta Braves $ 20-30 million annual rights fees (through 2031) FS Sports South
In 2013, each team also received $25.53 million as part of the National TV Revenue.
In 2014, each team also received $51.67 million as part of the National TV Revenue.
*[MASN] was created as part of the deal that moved the Expos from Montreal to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals. Orioles owner Peter Angelos opposed the move as an encroachment on the Orioles’ exclusive broadcast and commercial region. [This is different from the dispute between the Giants and the A’s over the territorial rights to San Jose and Santa Clara County.] As part of the negotiated settlement between MLB (which then owned the Expos) and Angelos, MASN was created with the Orioles to own 90 percent and the Nationals to own ten percent. The deal also called for the Nationals to be paid $20 million/year in broadcast rights, although that figure would increase by $1 million every season. In 2011, MASN reportedly paid the Nationals $29 million in broadcast fees and $7 million for its now 13 percent share of the network. No matter. Attorneys for the two teams and MASN have continued to launch attacks and counter-attacks. The Orioles think the MLB-sponsored panel was predisposed to rule for the Nationals because the league stands to gain financially the more the Nationals receive as a rights fee. For their part, the Nationals have threatened to terminate MASN’s license to broadcast their games if the panel’s ruling isn’t confirmed.
The MASN mess may shed some light on Selig’s unwillingness to make a final decision on the Oakland Athletics’ proposal to move to San Jose. He might have feared that any resolution of the territory dispute between the A’s and the San Francisco Giants that involves the A’s compensating the Giants could lead to in-fighting for years down the road.
The MASN agreement also includes a re-set provision by which the Nationals can re-negotiate the broadcast fee structure every five years. Early in 2012, the Nationals proposed that MASN pay between $100 million and $120 million per year in broadcast fees. The Orioles countered at $34 million per year. The two sides have been in protracted negotiations ever since. Former Commissioner Selig asked representatives from the Pirates, Rays, and Mets to mediate the dispute. A resolution was expected over the summer but never materialized and the parties reportedly remain far apart.
But all of this is minuscule to the real power of baseball today.
The power is BAM…short for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. In 2000, Bud Selig, then baseball’s commissioner, created BAM as an in-house IT department for baseball which would be in charge of creating websites for each of the teams and consolidated MLB’s digital rights. His feeling was that by pooling resources, he would prevent the bigger teams from outpacing their smaller market rivals. To keep the division honest and efficient, BAM would operate its own company. All of the MLB teams agreed to contribute a combined $120 million, $1 million each over the first four years, with each taking an equal ownership stake. And this is the hidden gem of baseball…and baseball ownership.
Forget the amount of money a team makes from its attendance, concessions, broadcast TV and radio rights, Regional Sports Network rights or any other form of income,. Today, whether it is ‘Magic’ Johnson as one of the owners of the Dodgers or Mark Attanasio, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, they both are equal owners of BAM. What is that worth? Fifteen years after it was founded, BAM will have a profit this year in excess of $900 million. Any idea how much that is worth today as an asset on the balance sheet? When you figure it out, just divide it by 30 and you will have figured out how much the owner of a small city franchise in Milwaukee is worth today.
One could say it is all due to Ichiro. When he came over to play from Japan for the Seattle mariners, he was an icon in his country. If you can remember, in those days a corps of press came along each and every day to cover Ichiro. BAM decided to experiment with streaming live audio of his games, giving his followers a way to keep up to speed with all-Ichiro all the time. This led to the league consolidating all of their digital rights within BAM. To secure more funding, BAM made a deal with TicketMaster to provide all of their ticketing functions for a $10 million advance so they could push not only audio but video.
A small company called eCommercial had created and implemented compressed video packages used as attachments for email. This small start-up was at the forefront of video delivery as CBS bought one of the first packages from Lance Hanish (LBC Advertising, now CNA|SOPHIS) who presented the technology to Kelly Kahl (CBS) to promote its first reality program, ‘Survivor’. With Les Moonves approval, on May 24, 2000, the first eCom packages were sent out to a list of email users consisting of editors, reporters, publishers and potential viewers. ‘Survivor’ debuted on 30 May 2000 and finished as the #2 program that season. That opened the eyes for video delivery and changed the world of mass communications.
Before YouTube, on August 26, 2002 BAM produced a broadcast of a Texas Rangers/New York Yankees game. It was streamed to 30,000 fans at only 280 kilobytes per second. To those who do not know, this is like dial-up speed. Broadband was not yet happening. But it allowed, later that Fall, to offer a post-season package for $19.95 which was successful and led to MLBtv in 2003. This provided a most unique opportunity. Because FOX held the rights, the first post season video delivery was only to Europe. This allowed for advancements in geofencing and multi-application delivery at scale. BAM obviously had already leaned of high-compression from the eCommercial technology.
Today BAM has as customers, ESPN (it handled the 2014 World Cup), HBO (it developed HBONow), WWE (Yup. It does the streaming of wrestling), SONY (PlayStation) and the NHL (National Hockey League). It not only handles their streaming but distributes the content.
BAM in 2014 contributed $5 million to each team or $150 million in additional revenue.
Now perhaps major acquisition of talent by several of the ball clubs is understandable. The Arizona Diamondbacks threw open their coffers as their windfall from BAM and their new television contract provided them with the flexibility of bringing in Zach Greinke ($34,416,667/year). San Francisco Giants added Jeff Samardzija ($18 million/yr) and Johnny Cueto ($21,666,667/yr) with the same revenue income. Kansas City Royals resigned Alex Gordon ($18 million/yr) and Joacim Soria (8,333,333/yr). Washington Nationals signed Stephen Drew ($3 million/yr) and Daniel Murphy ($12,500,000/yr). Cleveland Indians signed Mike Napoli. Boston Red Sox signed David Price ($31 million/yr). Chicago Cubs signed Jason Hayward ($23 million/year), Ben Zobrist ($14 million /yr) and John Lackey ($16 million/yr). Detroit signed Jordan Zimmerman ($22 million/yr). St. Louis signed Mike Leake ($16 million/yr). Los Angeles Dodgers signed Scott Kazmir ($16 million/yr) and Japanese pitcher, Kenta Maeda (3.125 million/yr-8yrs). Toronto Blue Jays signed J.A. Happ ($12 million/yr) and resigned Marco Estrada ($13 million/yr). Baltimore signed Darren O’Day ($7,750,000/yr). Seattle signed Hisashi Iwakuma ($12 million/yr).
So, what have the Milwaukee Brewers done? They have signed Eric Young Jr. ($1 million/yr), Will Middlebrows ($1.2 million/yr) and Chris Carter ($2.5 million/yr).
That’s called banking it. With a projected revenue in excess of the 2014 figure of $91.68 million in TV & estimated 2015 BAM revenue coming in the door BEFORE attendance gate receipts, concessions et all, their payroll at present is estimated at $98,089,079. With gate receipts of approximately $65 million (per Mar 2015 Forbes numbers), The Cream City Nine has an opportunity to bring in more than the 2015 estimated operating income of $11.3 million. With an attendance in excess of 2.5 million in 2015 (ranking 13th in MLB) or 31,389, with another hapless season, the average dropped from 34,536 in 2014. With few stars in 2016, the drop of another 10%-20% could be expected. Regardless, the value of the team will be approximately $850 million, should someone want to purchased the club and stop #watchingattanasio.
Today, as it has been since the days of Ban Johnson, John Taylor, Charles Somers, George Vanderbeck, Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey, baseball is not about the players or the fans. It’s all about money.