Skip to content

Remember: never believe a thing a team says about its finances

Nov 19, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

Jeffrey Loria AP

Dan Le Batard has a takedown of the Marlins which pretty much squares with my view of things too.  This passage piqued my interest, however:

The Marlins last offseason were like a gluttonous fat man at the all-you-can-eat buffet, stacking the plate with his eyes and appetite without regard to practicality or the oncoming food coma. The team overspent assuming we’d fill the ballpark, which we didn’t, and that meant losing about $40 million in that calamity of a season. Even though management didn’t have to serial-killer slash the payroll, there were going to have to be cuts, so the team decided to take a wrecking ball to the blueprint and just start again.

I’m not sure what the source is for that $40 million loss, but it is worth remembering as we enter free agent season that a baseball team’s claims of profit and/or loss are almost always pure science fiction when compared to the numbers that are reported for most other types of businesses.

Baseball accounting is profoundly opaque, and the only glimpses we ever see into the finances of a baseball team are either wither accidental or are partial-truths released by the team in order to further some specific end such as either proving or disputing that the owners are broke, depending on whichever story suits their purposes at the time.  And even then, we almost never get much above the bottom line number (Team X lost $Y last year). A number which tells us nothing about how much the ownership group extracted from the team above the line.

For example, we’ve learned in the last year that Jeff Loria at one time and may still pay himself an annual salary of some $10 million. And that there is a team “managing general partner” called Double Play Company which takes $8.5 million more. Oh, Double Play Company is owned by Loria and its president is Marlins team president David Samson.  Do other teams have that kind of setup? Don’t know! Because no one ever gets to see the finances of baseball teams! Indeed, teams and the league go to great lengths to avoid ever having to release their finances to the public, be it under pressure from politicians, in the course of litigation or anything else. They DO NOT want you to see the books, folks.

So call me crazy or call me paranoid, but I will never take a team’s statement about its profits or losses unless and until they show me the books to prove it. And that goes for the $40 million-losing Marlins too.

Latest Posts
  1. Ian Kennedy on track to return from the disabled list Saturday

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Getty Images

    Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy landed on the disabled list after exiting his season debut on April 9 with a mild left hamstring strain, but he’s on track to return Saturday against the Dodgers.

  2. Jonathan Lucroy headed to disabled list with broken toe

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    jonathan lucroy getty Getty Images

    Things are quickly going from bad to worse for the Brewers.

  3. Reds manager Bryan Price goes on profanity-laden tirade against media

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:06 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    This from Reds manager Bryan Price is not a good look at all.

  4. Cubs-Pirates delayed for 23 minutes after fan hit by foul ball behind home plate

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:49 PM EDT

    PNC Park

    Tonight’s Cubs-Pirates game was delayed for 23 minutes after a woman was hit in the back of the head by a foul ball in the top of the second inning.

  5. Ben Zobrist to rest for a couple of days after getting cortisone shot in knee

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:55 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros Getty Images

    Ben Zobrist left Sunday’s game due to left knee soreness and he’s now slated to miss at least another couple of days after receiving a cortisone shot.

  6. Justin Verlander undergoes MRI which confirms triceps strain

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:29 PM EDT

    Justin Verlander AP

    Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander had to cut a simulated game short last Wednesday and he’s currently in shutdown mode due to continued soreness in his throwing arm.

  7. Mets announce injury timetables for Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins

    Apr 20, 2015, 6:21 PM EDT

    mets logo

    The Mets won their eighth straight game Sunday against the Marlins to improve to 10-3 on the year, but it came as a cost, as catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins were forced to leave the game due to injuries. Today we learned a little bit more about how long they’ll be sidelined.

  8. Dodgertown lives

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    Dodgertown

    It’s been a facility in flux since the Dodgers left in 2008, but it has a new life under new management.

  9. Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett hurt himself showering

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Shower

    It was bad enough that he needed stitches.

  10. Jorge De La Rosa set to rejoin the Rockies’ rotation tonight

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT

    jorge de la rosa getty Getty Images

    Last season he threw 184 innings with a 4.11 ERA and 139/67 K/BB ratio.

  11. Braves pitcher Andrew McKirahan releases as statement regarding his PED suspension

    Apr 20, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    Andrew McKirahan Getty Images

    And he actually owns up to taking stuff. None of that “I have no idea how that got in my system” rebop from him.

  12. I discussed the “minor league city downgrades” list on NPR over the weekend

    Apr 20, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    El Paso

    People from El Paso are still mad about that. Oh well.

  13. Hanley Ramirez leaves Red Sox game “due to illness”

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Hanley Ramirez Red Sox Getty Images

    Allen Craig replaced him in left field against the Orioles.

  14. After two Tommy John surgeries Brandon Beachy is hoping to join the Dodgers in June

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    Brandon Beachy AP AP

    Beachy is 28 years old with a 3.23 ERA and 275 strikeouts in 268 career innings.

  15. You don’t have to trust Alex Rodriguez. Nothing requires you to do that at all.

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez AP

    The greatest trick baseball columnists ever pulled was convincing the world that the way they frame a topic is the only way to approach the topic.

  16. Garrett Richards returned from knee surgery throwing gas

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    garrett richards getty Getty Images

    His health is a huge key to the Angels’ success this season.

  17. Joe Buck has a truly awful suggestion about how to improve MLB broadcasts

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:52 AM EDT

    Joe Buck

    If you hate in-game interviews of managers, just wait for in-game interviews of players.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4602)
  2. D. Salazar (4006)
  3. D. Span (3871)
  4. C. Gomez (3648)
  5. J. Reyes (3547)
  1. D. Mesoraco (3501)
  2. Y. Puig (3461)
  3. D. Travis (3432)
  4. J. Verlander (3339)
  5. A. Rodriguez (3318)