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Arte Moreno: “Dumb owner of the year?” Um, no.

Dec 15, 2011, 10:03 AM EDT

Arte Moreno

Repoz at Baseball Think Factory is a renaissance man. In addition to being able to drop references to things no one has thought of since the Ford administration, he (a) has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Ass Ponys back catalog (I think he has “Mr. Superlove” on vinyl); and (b) manages to find all of the loony baseball commentary in existence. He does God’s work in this regard, really, because without him we would have no idea of half of the things that should outrage us so.

Anyway, today Repoz found a column by Clark Booth of the Dorchester Reporter talking about how Dumb Arte Moreno is for giving Albert Pujols all that money.  And that’s not me paraphrasing: he really calls him dumb. Gives him the “Dumb Owner of the Year” award and everything:

It’s simply astounding that none of this intelligence, available even to moronic fans in the daily newspapers, ever reaches guys like Moreno. A self-made multi-millionaire who rose up the industrial ranks out of nothing, Moreno presumably possesses deep business acumen. But these guys stash their wisdom in cold storage when Albert Pujols comes to town flexing his muscles. Maybe they just fall in love too easily.

I’m gonna allow for the possibility that Booth is actually being clever here and making the point that dudes like Moreno became rich precisely because they are not dumb, and that anyone who complains about the Pujols contract is totally underselling Moreno’s business acumen.

But I kind of don’t think that’s what he’s doing here. I think he really does think that the “moronic fans in the daily newspapers” have a better idea of how badly the Pujols contract is gonna hurt the Angels than Moreno does.  Because they have better access to the details of the $100 million annual raise in TV revenues the Angels are getting and which more than pays for Pujols’ deal, I guess.

Is it the best baseball contract ever? Nah. Like I’ve said, it’s gonna look bad on the back end.  But it’s certainly not “dumb.”  Not by a longshot.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    To be fair, he includes the Wilson signing as well, to which, he argument that neither the Yankees or Red Sox even met with him because of his outrageous demands is pretty good logic…at least in my opinion. While I don’t agree that signing Pujols makes him dumb GM of the year…adding in the overpay for Wilson could inch him closer to the award.

    • stex52 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:49 AM

      If you want to say “not very efficient spending”, maybe. But since he appears to have one of those printing presses they call broadcast contracts, he has the money to do it and probably prosper. If he wins a WS, then obviously a good deal.

      The other half of the CJ Wilson deal is taking him away from the Rangers. He may be overrated, but you just pulled away Texas’ piching depth and put them on the market.

      Zero sum game, my friend.

    • Kyle - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:56 AM

      Call me crazy, but I think the Wilson deal was entirely fair. He’ll do great in that park, with that D behind him.

    • lyon810 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:47 PM

      Overpaying for CJ would have been giving him the 6 years / $120 million, which is what CJ was asking for from the Marlins, Yanks, Sox, and everyone else. The Angels signed him for over $40 million LESS (minus one year too) than what he was asking for.

      So how is that dumb?

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:36 PM

      Wilson’s deal isn’t bad. Remember Zito. Wilson will have made what, 50 million less than him, in the end?

      I’m sorry, but if you’re going to argue Wilson’s deal, remember how bad other deals are. Wilson’s at least makes decent sense.

  2. xmatt0926x - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    In 5 years when they can’t make a move at the trade deadline because of this albatross of a contract, “dumb” might be one of the nicer adjectives thrown his way. Eating a year or 2 at the end to go for it now isn’t a problem. Owners should always go for it all when the opportunity is there. But once the bad back end of the deal is the same amount of years, if not more than the good front part, the deal looks bad, especially at close to $30 million per year.

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      With a $150M/year TV contract, they can afford to carry mulitple albatross contracts and STILL sign other players….the only question will be how much he is willing to spend, he’ll be making money every year regardless.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      kind of like how they weren’t able to make a move in free agency this year because of the albatross of a contract that is Vernon Wells. Maybe it’s just society.

  3. rooney24 - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    While I agree that Pujols’ contract was huge, and most teams could not survive it, the Angels can survive it. They just got a bump of $100 million PER YEAR in their TV revenue. They just signed deals to pay Pujols and Wilson around $41 million per season. That still leaves them $59 million ahead. And, their team is better by adding those players.

    Would those deals have crippled at least 20 other teams? Yes. Will it look bad in years 8-10 of Pujols deal? Probably. Although, the way salaries keep rising, there will likely be more players earning $20 million per season by then, so it won’t look quite as bad by comparison. But, their total local TV revenue will be $150 million per year, and that will likely cover 75% or more of their payroll, so it still makes business sense in that regard. Pujols, and Wilson to a lesser degree, will put more butts in the seats, and those extra ticket sales will help pay what is left of the payroll. They will still likely make money and be a better team.

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      If I am not mistaken, they already get over 3 mil. in the seats. They may get a few more, but are you suggesting that they will get 4 Mil? If this has any advantage in the ball park, then it will be from hiking the prices for the seats and even raising the luxury box prices, where they may be able to increase revenues. That may actually decrease attendance because they can watch on the T-V. Who knows how this will work out? I feel that there may be an immediate rise at the ball park, but then it is up to Wilson and especially Albert, to perform up to expectations, or attendance will go down. If Albert has a similar start as in 2011, people will not fill the seats for long. He is a St. Louis hero, not LA yet. The proof is the poor attendance to his introduction to the fans in LA. How can only 4 thousand people attend such an historic event in an area of about 6-8 MIL people? When Griffy Jr. was introduced here to come back to play at home, there were 20 plus thousand at fountain square, in a town of 1.5 mil. The money will remain for the T-V revenue however, and that is how this is affordable.

      • lanflfan - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        Only 4 thousand people attended because, despite their (illogical) name, the Angels play in Anaheim, which is located in Orange County. There are certainly Angels fans in LA. However, LA is, and always has, been a Dodgers town.

  4. pisano - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Texas is still a better and deeper team than the Angels, and will set the bar in the AL west.

  5. CJ - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    I think most of the negative comments above fail to realize what was clearly pointed out by Craig in the post, signing Albert grossed the team an extra $100 Million per year for the next 20 years, that they certainly wouldn’t ha’ve gotten otherwise.

    Break that down for a sec:

    Even with Pujols and Wilson, that’s still easily an extra $40 million in income over the next 5 years.
    When Wilson comes off the books, it’s still easily an extra $70 millions over the following 5 years of the deal
    And after 10 years when Pujols is off the books, it’s, you guessed it, an extra $100 million over the next 10 years.

    So let’s get this straight: The Angels overpaying of Pujols actually made them more money, which they *could* choose to use to further improve the team. They less hampered financially now than they were BEFORE signing Pujols. The CJ Wilson deal was again overpaying, but again, if you’ve got the extra money from the TV deal increases, you might as well spend to increase your chance at a World Series, so you can make even more money.

    Both deals are strictly business. They most likely overpaid compared to indicators, but they did so to make money. You can’t fault them for that, this is a business and it’s a brilliant move by their ownership. You have to spend money to make money.

    • scottp9 - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      Nobody is saying that the new TV money came BECAUSE of the Pujols deal. You’ve got the timing all wrong; TV deals don’t come together that fast and one player certainly wouldn’t have that big of an impact on the value of a club’s TV rights. What is being said is that the Angels knew that their TV money was making a big leap up (I’m sure they’ve known for weeks, if not longer, what the general parameters of their next TV rights deal would be) and so they could afford an expensive contract like Pujols’.

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      Look at this another way. The T-V deal was not dependent on signing either Wilson or Pujols. They had the money before signing either. that is how they were able to afford this. If they didn’t sign Albert, they would have made 24-25 mil. per year more, because they would not have to pay it. Also, if they didn’t sign Wilson, they would have made even more. However both moves did make them a better team on paper. Both of these guys will have to perform, or that extra money is down the drain.

      They could have competed without either of them, as they did in 2011. If one looks on this as increasing the bottom line and making a big difference in the team’s performance, I would have gone after Wilson, to see if he could take some wins from Texas, and increase wins for the Angles. That still could have won them a pennant.

  6. Max Power - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Does anyone know where I can get a copy of “Little Bastard”? That has to be my favorite song of the 1990s.

    • Max Power - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      Lots of thumbs-down. Apparently Repoz really is the only Ass Ponys fan!

  7. jikkle49 - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Well like it’s been said from a baseball standpoint it’s not a great contract but when you factor the other revenue streams it brings in than it’s a great business.

    Pujols gives the Angels a face of the franchise caliber of player that has large national recognition. So it lead to a big TV contract, it lead to increase season ticket sales, increased merchandise sales, someone that a large latino community can relate too, a player that will hit his milestones while wearing your uniform, and someone very marketable.

    So the Angels should make far more money with having Pujols than what they will pay him.

    • hep3 - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      Actually, the TV deal was done before Pujols, but increased attendance and increased advertising revenues will result.

      I work in Orange County and on the Monday after the Pujols deal, three colleagues wen on line and signed up for partial season ticket plans. Another guy I work with has a full season that he parcels out and a guy who usually bought 20 games or so every year said about ten days ago he couldn’t afford the commitment. Well, that guy called the day after the Pujols signing and “found” the money.

      Back when Reggie Jackson signed with the Angels, he had an attendance clause that paid him more depending on the increase attendance for the Angels. It turned out very good for both Reggie and the Autrys.

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      The Angels won’t make anywhere near $254M more by having Pujols….they TV contract was already done, and they already nearly sell out most games…there just isn’t much room for growth….I suppose if he helps them go deeper into the playoff, they might sell a few more tickets or decide to bump prices more than they would otherwise….but it’s hard to see that resulting in that much of a difference….and it’ll be hard to give him all of the credit, because without the excellent pitching, they aren’t going anywhere. They’ve already got 2 face of the franchise caliber players, each of which will probably be more valuable than Pujols the next few years….they just happen to pitch instead of hit.

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:52 PM

      How can so many people be so ignorant on financial matters? The T-V contract came first not last. The Angels had to have the money or know where it was coming from, before signing him. Business’ do not spend money like the government. Business has to have cash before they spend it.

  8. heynerdlinger - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Except that the $100M per year in TV money is not contingent on the Angels signing Pujols. They would be getting that money regardless. The real question is whether Moreno thinks that the $250M spent on Albert will return $500M+ over the next ten years with merchandising, ticket sales, and the *next* TV contract.

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      Yes, that is correct, and he made the decision, by signing him. The foolish part is to assume that Albert will be as good in LA, as he was in St. Louis. He is older to start with, and the Angels have not made one dime on him yet. So Moreno is taking a big gamble on this first year for Albert on the team. if his numbers are just so-so, the Angels will never get back the 250 Mil they spent on him.

      If I were to bet, I would say that Albert will be fine, but I would not bet 1/4 of a Bil on it. It only made sense for the Cardinals to spend that much on a 32 year old player, because they can justify spending money to reward him for past performance and for the idea that he was “underpaid” for the past ten years. For any other team, it is strictly a big big, gamble.

  9. Reflex - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Craig – Thanks for this post. I’ve been pointing out all week that the ‘poor clubs with horrible contracts’ line is a canard that willfully ignores just how much money even ‘poor’ clubs make. The Angels already have multiple bad contracts. The Wells deal is the biggest example. That they could still sign Pujols says a lot. I’d like to see more posts pointing out the revenue streams teams have available, in most cases ticket sales alone cover the cost of player salaries, and ticket sales are just the tip of the iceberg.

  10. brad101 - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Seems to me to be a great deal al around. Albert gets his and Arte gets 3 billion from Fox Sports. Not to mention being able to charge more for advertising. Also there is the souvenir sales,ticket sales and the fact that if he stays healthy and stays close to recent production he will hit his 500th homerun and possibly his 600th,so history will be being made. How much is this worth? No Arte did all right and as an Angel fan since 1966 this is great for us.

  11. brad101 - Dec 16, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    To the folks that say Arte already had the Fox contract. Maybe the mix up comes from the reporting of the signing of Albert before the announcement of the tv contract. But maybe Arte and Fox knew the value of the advertising revenues that could be created by having Albert and worked together to make it happen.

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