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Volume 24 No. 117
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MLB Franchise Notes: Padres' Opening Day Payroll About $43M

In San Diego, Bill Center reports the Padres have "agreed to terms with the final unsigned players on their 40-man roster," bringing to $43M the "amount the Padres will owe their Opening Day payroll in 2011 -- up from" about $39M last season. The team's "total projected payroll budget" for '11 will top $45M. Also, Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad is "finally close to divesting himself of his stake" in the D'Backs, "more than two years since he began his installment purchase of the Padres." The transaction, which MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "confirmed Saturday was essentially done, provides for Moorad to sell" his estimated 12% of the D'Backs to the club's current partners. Moorad indicated that he has "not yet established a firm timetable to purchase the remaining Padres' shares held by John and Becky Moores" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/28).

PITT & THE PENDULUM: Pirates President Frank Coonelly on Friday sought to clarify comments he made recently "about the correlation between increased payroll and attendance." Coonelly said, "I answered a specific question with an honest and obvious answer. Our gate receipts are among the lowest in baseball, but we have never blamed our fans for this fact. It is our doing, it is our fault. The onus to improve is on the club, and we are not asking for more support without demonstrating that we have a competitive on-field product" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/26). But in Pittsburgh, Gene Collier wrote, "In a division where the average payroll last year was $97.2 million everywhere but in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are the guy walking around with two olives in his pocket and seem perfectly unperturbed by it." Coonelly's comments indicate that the Pirates "will continue to be the culinary equivalent of lint-covered olives unless attendance spikes fairly considerably" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/27).

STRANGLE HOLD: ESPN’s Buster Olney reported MLB deemed it “not acceptable” for the Dodgers to take out a $200M loan from Fox because the team already has “so much debt.” MLB cannot force Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt “to sell the team, but what they can do is essentially cutoff his avenues to get funding from other places, other investors, and that seems to be what's happening here.” Olney: “Slowly but surely, it seems like Frank McCourt's ownership of the Dodgers is being strangled" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 2/25).

: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports the Brewers have set up work stations at their Spring Training Facility in Phoenix "where players meet and talk with members of the Brewers' extended front office." No player is "permitted to leave until his orientation worksheet is signed by each department." As part of the effort, Brewers Senior Dir of Marketing Kathy Schwab and Senior Manager of Advertising & Marketing Caitlin Moyer "talk about their plans with each player," and even "discuss commercials with a few" (USA TODAY, 2/28).

BRONX BOMBER: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Yankees co-Chair & General Partner Hank Steinbrenner is a "different kind of cat," someone who is "unpredictable, zany." Steinbrenner's "revenue sharing rant was nothing original, but it did upset Bud Selig, who frowns upon such talk." But Steinbrenner is "officially liberated," and this "actually can be a terrific thing for the organization." He could "put some pop" in YES Network programming (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/27).