MLB Franchise Notes: MLBPA's Weiner Hopes Attendance Follows Rays' Payroll Increase
In Tampa, Marc Topkin noted the Rays' "increase in payroll from last season looks to come in at just about 50 percent, a dramatic hike for any team, but especially one that ranked near the bottom in attendance." The increase is "a good sign" for MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner. After Friday's annual meeting with the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla., Weiner said, "The Rays have been a very successful team on the field, and they also are successfully running a business." He added, "We follow (the attendance issue) because they have a very competitive team with some very engaging players, guys that have been with the organization and been with the fans for a long time, and you'd like to see more success. I know the TV ratings, the local TV ratings for the Rays are very good" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/24).
BREWING VALUE: In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted since purchasing the Brewers in '05, Mark Attanasio's ownership group has been "able to increase the value of the Brewers the old-fashioned way: He's put money back into the club." Team officials have said that this year's payroll is more than $100M, a "team record and a significant increase over past years." But Attanasio also has "put money into Miller Park, with assistance from taxpayers who pay the Miller Park sales tax." The Brewers have "put up a pricey scoreboard, redone the suites, and added party areas and team stores, all in the name of enhancing the fan experience." This season, the Brewers are "expecting big attendance numbers." Ticket sales are "running 10% ahead of this point last year" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/23).
MAINTAINING STABILITY: CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman wrote whoever eventually purchases the Padres "needs to bring stability to the front office by keeping general manager Josh Byrnes and his front office intact." Vice Chair Jeff Moorad "surely managed to make a few enemies, but that doesn't mean all his decisions were wrong." He has been "left to finalize the new lucrative TV deal the Padres need," but XEPRS-AM reported that Moorad's office "has indeed been cleaned out." The decision to hire Byrnes "was one of the smarter moves Moorad made in his three weird years in San Diego." Byrnes' contract with the Padres runs through '16 (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/26).
HOLES IN THE SOX? In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine yesterday addressed reports of a rift with GM Ben Cherington, saying the two communicate "a few times a day." Valentine said of the reports, "It was a clever journalist. ... It comes with the territory" (BOSTON.com, 3/26). The BOSTON GLOBE's Christopher Gasper had reported a "wedge appears to be forming" between Valentine and Cherington. Valentine was "foisted upon" Cherington by Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino after ownership was "underwhelmed by Cherington’s choice of onetime Sox third base coach Dale Sveum." When former Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was with the Red Sox, it was "clear the team worshiped at the altar of the GM's office." But Valentine is "not that type of manager." Gasper wrote, "Disagreement isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as there is compromise. Hopefully Valentine and Cherington can bridge the gap better than Valentine" did when serving as Mets manager under former GM Steve Phillips (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/25). Meanwhile, the BOSTON GLOBE's Cafardo noted a survey from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling of 936 Massachusetts voters from March 16-18 indicated that 81% "consider themselves Red Sox fans" and 19% do not. The firm "considers that an amazing percentage" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/25).