Bell’s Tell

One scenario we examined yesterday in discussing how Heath Bell’s situation might play out is that he could accept arbitration and remain in San Diego another year rather than pursue long-term options elsewhere. The notion that a professional ballplayer would take less money to stay in a place he considers home may seem curious to folks raised on the stereotype of greedy athletes, but apparently that’s what Bell intends to do.

Bell seems to be serious about continuing his career as a member of the Padres:

I’d like to get a three-year contract with the Padres. But I think I’m in position to come back no matter what… If they offered me three years at $27 million, we’d talk. If they offered me three years at $30 million, I would really have to consider it.

Very serious:

Arbitration at one year might be worth $12 million… The next step then is arbitration. And right now, my position is I’m not going to say no if they offer it to me.

Fan reaction to Bell’s loyalty to team and city has been fascinating. Mostly it has consisted of, “Jed Hoyer screwed up by not trading Bell.” So yeah, big guy, we’re glad you’re still here.

The Padres, of course, are not compelled to offer Bell arbitration. This is the path they chose a few years ago with Mike Piazza and this past off-season with Miguel Tejada. The downside to such an approach is that the club then receives no draft picks as compensation for losing said player to free agency.

There is a real possibility that Bell walks after the season and the Padres get nothing in return for him. If the Padres decide that they don’t want to spend $12 million on him next year (or $9 million over each of the next three years), that’s that. And for a team that figures to have a payroll in the neighborhood of $45-50 million, this means about 18 to 27 percent of it tied up in a 34-year-old with declining peripherals who pitches 5 percent of his team’s innings.

Where things get complicated is in Bell’s value to the organization beyond his on-field contributions. I won’t call them intangibles because (a) that’s a dirty word and (b) these are measurable, although not with any publicly available information.

Bell is a three-time All-Star. He is the de facto face of the franchise. If you think the Padres are invisible to everyone north of SR-78 and east of I-15 now, wait until you see what happens when Bell leaves.

But that’s a crap argument, because those folks aren’t helping the Padres increase revenue. Maintaining a high profile is great, because otherwise you run the risk of not broadening your fan base and, to use a purely hypothetical example, having your beautiful ballpark overrun with Giants fans when that team comes to town.

You know what increases revenue? Those corporate suites. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m willing to bet (a 12-ounce diet soda; I’m really feeling this) that the Padres make more money off of one of those deals in a year than they’ll make off of me in a lifetime or three.

You know what helps sell those deals? Guys like Heath Bell.

The promise of personal appearances at company functions can be a powerful bargaining chip. And if kids happen to be at those functions, their interactions with ballplayers could help engender brand loyalty.

Before you dismiss this line of thought, bear in mind that every captain of industry once was a kid. The odds are long, but they’re better than zero, which is what you get if don’t try at all.

I’m not saying that the Padres should sign Bell to a long-term contract or offer him arbitration. I’m saying that this decision will be more difficult than it might appear at first glance.

You and I can point to his advancing age and declining strikeout rate, and cry “Danger! Danger!” Those numbers are easy to see and interpret. What we can’t do with the information available to us is figure out how many corporate suites Bell will help sell, thus boosting subsequent payrolls with which to procure presumably better talent.

Is Bell an expense? Or is he an asset, an investment in the future?

Such questions do not have simple answers, and I cannot pretend to know what is right. What I do know is this: It is difficult to be Hoyer right now, and it is difficult to be a Padres fan right now.

But you know something? I didn’t need Bell to tell me that.

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44 Responses »

  1. Something a friend has been telling me about Bell–they may as well bring him back, because there’s nothing better to spend the money on, even including draft picks, extensions, raises, etc. So go for it, I guess.

  2. Really think he will get $12 Million in Arb?

    If so, I think we have to hope he gets claimed by someone willing to move any decent piece at this point.

    You are right, he may sell some of those awesome box seats, but no reliever is worth that much cash on this size of a team. I would have a hard time believing that:

    Heath’s onfield performance + Luxury Box sales >= $12 Million over a year. $8 would be pushing it. But then I am not a baseball economics expert, and considering how secret they keep their books, not many people are.

    The Padres are at a point where we need to define more “faces of the franchise” and its hard to do that without some tribulations. We need to do a 2009 this year, and start mixing and matching some pieces. Give some of these rookies a chance to see if they can sell some luxury suites.

  3. Bell was on Dan Patrick’s radio show this morning and pretty much echoed the sentiments here. He is surprisingly (for a pro athlete) candid and a good interview. He doesn’t give canned answers. His funniest line was (close paraphrase), “I really believe the team is doing the right thing for the future…but maybe I’m an idiot.”

  4. I get your point about marketing, but then why not keep your biggest marketing chip in Adrain Gonzalez? A player who is on the feild 95% of the time instead of a closer who is on the feild 5% of the time.

  5. @Steve

    Adrian’s making 12-13M more than Bell seems to want, it took a 7 year commitment, and Adrian was really not all that engaging. Not the same thing as a short-term deal for a guy willing to give a discount and who embraces the role of team spokesman.

    I’m mostly a cold hard facts type, and paying 9M for 65 innings doesn’t seem great to me. But there may be reasons beyond my understanding that justify it.

  6. @ Steve

    Paying Heath Bell even $12 million a year for one year is a far cry from what Adrian is making. And if you are saying “why trade Adrian in his last year”, what the Padres got back for Adrian FAR outweighs what they would get for Bell. That was a farm-rebuilding type of trade…three of our top 10 prospects came in that trade. If trading Bell would have given us that, he would be gone.

  7. It’s true that Adrian makes double what Heater would but I would imagine that marketing a player that fans can see every day would be much more valuable than a player who may make an apperance in what 40 to 45 games at the most?

  8. Adrian never wanted to be that guy. He was a marketer’s dream for the Mexican market and the team just couldn’t get anything out of him. He had the personality of a paper bag and he never looked comfortable on camera. That’s why Boston is the perfect fit for him–there are about five other guys ahead of him to take that role.

    Teams need a guy to market the team around. Houston is going to learn about that the hard way moving forward. For better or worse, the Padres always had one of those guys since the early 90s. If you don’t resign Heath, who’s going to replace him as that guy? I think Maybin or Headley could do it, but they’re not ready yet.

  9. @Steve: If the Padres attempted to pay Adrian what he was worth, there wouldn’t be any team left to market.

  10. I was going to question Geoff’s assertion that the predominant thought on Bell was that he should have been traded by Hoyer, but various message boards and this blog seem to cast his words as true. And that is a crying shame.

    I’ve been a Padre fan all of my lifetime. There has always been a cornerstone, marquee player on the team to get fans through the lean years (and most years are lean years). Gwynn, Hoffman, Gonzalez, and Bell. And sure, of those four, Bell is the least marquee name, but he is likely the second most bombastic personality in baseball (save Brian Wilson, and if we had won the WS last year, Bell would be that guy without having to wear seal skins and tat himself out), and he makes the game fun (something that has really lacked for the Padres in 2011 save Cameron Maybin and wondering if Brad Hawpe’s wires and bolts were going to break through his cryogenic skin).

    Winning cures a lot of problems…I get that. But I’ve been a Padres fan a long time, and I know that you don’t always win. If you are working from low payroll, you usually don’t win. And wow, we had some winning teams that really sucked…2005? 2006? So we are going to load up for the future…I’ve been a part of the Superfans/now Hank’s Padre Discussion Board for 11 years now, and that group is the smartest group of baseball fans I know. Yet they fall into the same trap every year of loving prospects and planning lineups three years into the future. Lineups with Vince Faison turned into lineups with Jake Gautreau turned into lineups with Matt Bush, Matt Antonelli, Allan Dykstra, Donovan Tate…this is not to say that prospects are not an extremely valuable part of running a small-to-mid market franchise, but it does mean that the future doesn’t often pan out into what you expect. Geoff is right…a guy like Bell is the kind of guy that can be a face of a team (and a great face) as a good player and a good guy, and having him could do so much more good for the team than picking up kids who project as utility infielders and #4 starters.

    Not every team has a marquee player — who are you cheering for if you are a Baltimore Orioles fan? Or an Oakland A’s fan? (hell, if you’re an Oakland fan, who have you been cheering for the past six years, save Billy Beane). When a top-name player makes a commitment to a city like Bell has (one that A-Gon did not, and he was a local boy, but he also had the personality of drywall), does a great job as a baseball ambassador, and is loved by the casual fan, why are you going to run him off for some mid-level prospects? Because we can’t afford him? Then the problem is with an ownership that can’t figure out how to tap into the resources of the sixth largest city in America and a huge population on the other side of the border, much less pay off their bill on the team.

    I get diminishing returns, number of innings, all of that. At the same time, I want something that says San Diego Padres more than just a jersey that changes every few years and a bunch of people who I saw play poorly for other teams last year. If you don’t want to keep Bell, why are you a Padres fan in the first place? Why not just find some city with a good farm system and cheer for that team? Cincinnati has a lot of good young kids…

  11. Bell is really screwing up the plan, and it sucks. You can’t fault him; he needs to do whats’ best for him and his familiy. But clearly, we should have gotten whatever we could for him before the deadline. We’ve heard Hoyer say that one of the reasons they kept Bell was that there’s compensation protection involved, and now it sounds like that’s out the window. This is brutal.

  12. @GY is there a team to market now?

  13. The WAR for the entier Padres team (3.4) is lower than Adrains (5.2), so in theory it would have been better to sign all repalcement level players on the cheap and keep Adrain than it would have been to trade him.

  14. It’s too bad Rizzo hasn’t panned out yet. If he were hitting well, including a few long balls here and there, the Padres could market Maybin/Rizzo/Headley as the young guns who are going to lead the team’s rise back to contention.

    A couple of light-hitting guys (Maybin and Headley) on their own don’t provide the same marketing appeal, unfortunately.

  15. @Steve: Of course there is. The Padres suck right now, but at least they still exist. Ask fans of the Montreal Expos how that team’s marketing efforts are working. If the Padres paid Adrian $21M (about half their current payroll), how long do you think they would continue to operate and play actual games in San Diego?

  16. The Padres are in a bad position right now.. They have an owner who can’t or won’t spend much money and the fans are losing faith. If they don’t make some positive moves soon their attendance might look like the Florida Marlins.

    If they don’t sign Heath, where will that money go? Do fans really want to see declining stars like Bartlett, Hudson, Hawpe, Cantu brought in again in hopes they can re-live their success? At least with Heath he is established here and the Padres know what to expect. Besides if they didn’t want Heath for the next few years… WHY DID THEY TRADE MIKE ADAMS?

  17. @ GY: the last time the Padres had a payroll under $40 mil was in 2001, they were able to sustain a higher payroll for 8 years, 4 of which they were in Quallcomm and did not have the benifit of revnue sharing. However that was not my point, my point was that the Padres would have been better off paying Adrain half the payroll then using the other $20 mil on replacement level players.

    Only 10 plyers on the Padres are making over $1 mil this season, two of which were just traded. If the Padres would have not resinged Ludwick (6.75 mil), traded Bell (7.5 mil) in the off season, did not sign Hawp ($2 Mil) and kept Adams has the closer then they would have had they would have had the payroll flexability to keep Adrain. It’s comperable to what the Rockies did with Helton.

  18. I heard Bell on Dan Patrick’s show this morning and he seemed pretty down about his current situation. He obviously expected to get traded and this morning was looking on the bright side of being at home with his family rather than someplace his kids only see him on TV. He seemed a little upset with the Padres management for not being more communicative about what was going on with him, and definitely wants a 3-year deal over a 2-year deal with a club option for a third year. He came across as remarkably human for an athlete being interviewed on a radio show, as you’d expect of him at this point, and I’m not sure what to hope for him.

    As for his value, don’t forget about incremental concession-stand revenue: Even more fans will leave early if the Padres don’t have a reliable closer with exciting intro music to look forward to!

  19. Without knowing what Hoyer was offered, we don’t know whether or not his decision on Bell was a good one, but the guy hasn’t shown himself to be a sucker in any other deals, so why would we assume he was in this one? Regardless of what you think of Bell, you aren’t who Hoyer was negotiating with. It seems clear that other teams do not consider him worth a prospects-for-a-rental trade that Hoyer thought made any sense. The cliche is “you should have traded him for a used ball bag” but what’s wrong with “keep him for his value in 2011 and then non-tender him?” What do you want with a used ball bag, or a prospect you think isn’t going to pan out?

    It’s awful that budget considerations might prevent the Padres from accepting a hometown discount but that’s the reality. If you want a larger budget, I suggest they consider pulling in the fences at Petco so fans aren’t treated to pitcher’s duels every single night, and so when they have some money to spend they can find hitters who won’t refuse to go where their stats get murdered. The Padre offense really isn’t nearly as bad as it looks in Petco. On the road, Cameron Maybin is developing into a player who will be close to an All-Star, only the fans at Petco never get to see that. Regardless of his personality, having Adrian Gonzalez hit .350 would have put a lot of fannies into seats in 2009 and 2010 and who knows, maybe we could have kept him. Instead, other hitters look at the year he’s having in Boston and think, geez, no way I want to go to San Diego.

    Pitching and defense are supposed to be the way to build a winning team the fastest, and Petco is designed for pitching and defense. But the Padres are also a small market team which is having budget problems that pitching and defense aren’t helping but offense might.

  20. @Steve: “in theory it would have been better to sign all repalcement level players on the cheap and keep Adrain than it would have been to trade him.”

    I do not see how this would have been better.

  21. I would love to kill once and for all this ridiculous notion that losing games 8-6 would get more fans than losing games 3-1. Exactly what data are people using when they throw this out?

    You know what draws fans? Winning. Nobody was clamoring for the fences to be moved last year when we put up the fourth best season in franchise history. People go to games to watch compelling baseball. Ill take a game any day that hinges on each and every play instead of a game where defense doesn’t matter since you could just break your bat and hit one out.

    The Padres do well when they play well. Just look at season ticket sales compared between 2010 and 2011. The Padres were terrible in 09 and season tickets slumped in 10. Then, they rock in 10 and ticket sales jump (by almost 10 percent, I believe) for this year. Sure, ticket sales will go down next year but once they start winning, they’ll start coming back. Moorad et al have done a lot to increase the ballpark experience so hopefully the drop in 12 is buffered a bit. But to suggest somehow that more homeruns (that still result in losses) will get more fans seems to be rooted more in an individual preference than reality.

  22. @Jason

    Adams was traded because, in a lot of ways, he was more valuable than Bell. Cheaper, younger (ok, only by a few months), more team controllable, and if you look what the Padres got back, it was a pretty decent trade (this is, of course going solely off the numbers those guys have posted this year in Frisco; I haven’t had a chance to research them any deeper yet). I think they didn’t really want to trade Bell because it would’ve been devastating for the fan base, so the asking price was probably higher than it should’ve been. And I think the smart move is arbitration, due to the declining stats. Better to overpay for one year, than to be stuck for 3 years. Plus, another team might come in and really over pay, and the Pad’s get those draft picks.

    The guy i’m curious about is Jesus Guzman, who I think might very well end up playing his way into the starting lineup with his bat. I think that if he started the year with the team, he would have more RBIs than the recently departed Ludwick, and I still think he could end up leading the team. But where does he play? I don’t think he’s any better, maybe even a little worse, than Blanks in LF, and I already think that Blanks isn’t the answer out there (for example, Kemp’s triple last night), but that makes basically three 1B, only one of which is actually qualified defensively to play there.

  23. @Phantom

    Maybe you forgot the final years of the Phil Nevin/Ryan Klesko era, where if the team was down one after 5 innings, the game was basically over, and you turned it off and went on to other things for the evening.

    The problem with the low scoring affairs is that it begins to feel like any deficit is impossible to overcome, and watching the team lead the league in being shutout is just plain disheartening. Yes, at the end of the day, losing is losing, and a bad product isn’t going to draw fans, but when the offense is this terrible, you don’t feel like the team ever has a chance. When the team is capable of scoring 5 runs or so on a regular basis, you feel you at least have a chance; with this team, a 3-0 hole seems more like 8-0

  24. @Pat – it was sarcasm, I was just pointing out that the player that the Padres traded away is producing more offensively than the entire padres team. Sure Adrian would be making more than half the team payroll but he would be producing more offensively than the rest of the team combined.

    Padres WAR (batting) = 3.4
    Adrain WAR = 5.2

  25. @Jasonb619: The ownership transfer and television deal are tying everyone’s hands at the moment. Resolution of those issues should help matters. If it doesn’t, then we might have a problem. I will still take this over ’93, and even that ended up working out okay in the end.

    @Steve: When the Rockies signed Helton to that 9-year-deal in 2003, a) it was not necessarily a good idea and b) he was due to earn $10.6M in the first year, or roughly 16% of the entire Rockies payroll (~$67.2M). Adrian is due to earn $21M in the first year of his new contract; even if the Padres had $73.7M to play with, as they did in ’08, that’s a staggering 28.5% of payroll allocated to one player. Carlos Lee in Houston is the current worst offender (26.9% of total payroll), and look at what that’s doing to the Astros. With the Padres’ actual payroll likely to be closer to $50M, Adrian would account 42% of his team’s payroll, which is franchise suicide. There simply is no way to make those numbers work. Comparing Helton to Adrian isn’t even apples to oranges, it’s apples to helicopters.

    @bee1000: Thanks for the link.

    @The_Slasher14: Excellent points. Some people (not here, but in general) seem to be forgetting that the Rangers had a say in all this. If they weren’t willing to part with what the Padres wanted for Bell but were willing to do so for Adams, with a deadline looming, it’s difficult to rip Hoyer for pulling the trigger. Operating on an insanely tight budget presents some unique challenges for a GM. I’d like to know who would have done better than Hoyer given the same circumstances.

    @Adam A: Guzman can hit. I’m hoping to write more about him later this week.

  26. “Hypothetical”? Me thinks you placed that word their to invoke some type of reaction…. I won’t bite since you have expressed your sentiments on that subject in the past.

  27. @Zach – I disagree. Spending money on draft picks and extending the young core players like Headley and Stauffer should be more important.

    Me thinks the Padres are ok with Bell accepting Arb(he won’t get $12m, he will be asking for $12m) at around $10m. Two things on keeping Bell through Arb:
    1) He is still tradeable. In fact, if Hoyer wanted to play Hardball he would just tell Bell that if he accepts arb a trade will be worked out and he can’t gaurantee Bell where he will be going…. Toronto, Cleveland, and Detroit would result in Bell not getting a long term deal and not getting to stay in SD or anywhere near it. Bell may have a pair of Aces, but Hoyer could render them useless.

    2) More likely in the Arb scenario involves the Padres keeping Bell all of next year or until trade deadline so that they can continue to develop Brach to be ready to replace him as closer.

    Of course, I also think the Padres would be fine signing Bell to a 2 or 3 year discounted deal, which still leaves him tradable(unless Bell demands no trade) and gives them even more time to develop Bells replacement.

    Anyway you look at it, I don’t think Hoyer screwed this up. I believe he has a plan. As Geoff said, tough decision and other factors behind the scene are also in play.

  28. Steve – Cameron Maybins war is 3.4. Fangraphs has the Padres cumulative WAR at 12.

  29. @All -

    Is it possible this could be a wink-wink between Hoyer and Bell? Bell says he would accept arbitration but dangles a long term deal discount and Hoyer says they would be interested in that too. Teams competing to sign Bell would have to throw even more money at Bell to “convince” him to sign… since they would believe any “fair market” price offered to Bell would be rejected in favor of a discounted SD deal or a Arbitration offer. This could be some sly manuevering where Hoyer gets his draft picks and Bell gets a big deal…. or it could be at face value.

  30. @GY

    Where do you think Guz should play? I feel like Rizzo is going to be back in Sept (hopefully with less pressure and more results), and I feel like your avg beer league LF gets better jumps on balls than him. He has more minor league games at 2B than LF, so maybe that’s a possibility? I mean, as long as Uggla is run out there everyday, he won’t be the worst defensive 2B in the game…

  31. @PadresFuture baseball reference has it at 3.4 and magnum at 2.1.

    @GY and a closer making 20% of the payroll over the next 3 years does work?

  32. @PF: Glad you enjoyed the “hypothetical” joke. As for a “wink-wink” deal between Bell and the Padres, anything is possible, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    @Adam: Guzman seems like a guy who could back up at a few different positions (but probably not 2B) and get 350-400 PA.

    @Steve: A closer taking up 20% of the payroll would make me uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as anyone taking up 40% of the payroll. I don’t see how a team even operates in the latter scenario.

  33. The Padres can’t afford to have closers as the face of the franchise. Must our closers be so damn personable and effective? Can’t we be like normal teams and change our closers every two years after they blow up? Sheesh!

  34. @Phantom: The data I was using can be found in Bill James’ Historical Baseball Analyst, in an article which makes the point that when owners increase offense by lowering the mound, shrinking the strike zone, whatever, attendance has always gone up. He was referring to MLB-wide changes and obviously the Padres cannot do that unilaterally, so moving in the fences would seem to be the only option available.

    As someone noted above, when the Padres are losing by more than a run or two in Petco early on, people turn off the TV because of how unlikely it is that we can come back. This makes media ratings drop and that affects what media will pay for the next contract. I grew up rooting for the 1950s Dodgers and hating the 1950s Yankees, and you NEVER turned off the TV on those teams.

    You’re absolutely right that attendance goes up when the team wins, but my point is that the team will win when it has more money to spend on good players and one way to get that money is to increase offense and attract more fans. Increasing offense will have the ancillary benefit of reducing the number of hitters who, all else being equal, won’t sign with the Padres because the stadium kills their stats. Unless you’re planning to sign everyone to a lifetime contract, it will MATTER to hitters that their numbers will suffer in Petco and their value when they hit the market later in their careers may suffer too.

  35. I would love to see that article if you have a link as I suspect it’s more nuanced than that. Baseball was also fundamentally tranforming during the time of the changes you discuss, adding teams in new markets throughout the country. Attributing growth solely to offense without considering other factors (especially the increasing ubiquitousness of television) seems off to me.

    If fans are going to turn off the game when the Padres are down by a run or two, then those probably aren’t fans that are going to support the team under normal conditions (read: outside of a bandwagon year).

    Finally, for a contemporary example about the overstated value of offense, one need look no further than the Giants. That team has been drawing pretty well over the past 5 years or so and that was a) without the benefit of offense in the post-Bonds era and b) without being a perennial winner. Fans will turn out if they’re given a reason to do so and in the case of San Francisco, watching Lincecum et al was enough of a reason. Furthermore, look at the Nationals last year with Straussburg. Those people weren’t showing up to watch him hit.

  36. Even with more money for better hitters – and even moving the right field fence in and lowering it – there still won’t be an offense explosion at Petco. Visiting players can’t hit here either, and the few who have mentioned it say they can’t “see” the ball well, and/or can’t “pick up” the ball well. The dead air/lack of lift isn’t solvable, but seeing/picking up the ball is a function of the batter’s eye (hitting background), and lighting.

    Most backgrounds are solid walls of one color, predominently black. Petco has a black fence, a dark blue lower wall set back 20 feet, and a recessed balcony above flanked by green bushes, and a couple black slits farther back for good measure. Maybe ditching the bushes and raising the front railing of that balcony up to the slit level – and painting the resulting vertical wall black – would help.

    As for lighting, I remember the early years of a place called “San Diego Stadium”, and the infield was pretty dim. The lighting was designed for even coverage for football, and it wasn’t until the early ’80s that extra lights were added to illuminate the infield. Players afterward said they could see the ball really well. Of course, the city concentrated the extra lights on the first base side of home plate, aimed down the left field line, and some leftfielders lost fly balls in those lights, but Petco may have the same problem with light distribution.

  37. @phantom: I no longer have my copy of James’s book, but my recollection is that he was speaking of the 1920s. A glance at the numbers backs that up. The 1920 attendance jumped to 9MM from 6.5MM from the previous year (the last pre-war year was also 6.5MM) and stayed there until the depths of the Depression. No expansion and mostly the same ballparks.

    As for the Giants, their attendance was over 40,000/game from the day Pac Bell/AT&T opened until 2005 and remained over 38,600 until 2007. The Giants, in those years, were a fine hitting team, led by MVP-level stars Bonds and Kent. After Bonds “retired”, it dropped to 35,300 in 2008 and 2009. The novelty of the new ballpark no doubt played a role in its first few years but the indication seems clear to me — losing a premier offensive player cost them about 10% of their spectators. They were a losing team in 2008, true, but they were also a losing team in 2005 and 2006 and 2007. And they won 88 games in 2009 with Tim Lincecum and lost a handful of attendees. Their attendance was up last year a bit (37,500) but was still the third lowest in their history in that park. This year, of course, it’s (so far) their highest ever — they are the world champs. But the conclusion is clear to my mind — offense is the driving force behind Giant attendance.

    The Strassberg example is weak. He was probably the highest touted rookie of the 2000s and so the Nationals got people into the ballpark to see him pitch. Are you asking Hoyer to come up with a “pitcher of the decade” every year?

    My point is this: the Giants draw 35-40,000 people per game because they’re in a major market (and the city is also a major tourist attraction). San Diego draws around 25,000 (the last three years) because it’s a small market. San Diego cannot AFFORD pitcher’s duels night after night; San Francisco can.

  38. @ All

    It’s been reported that the Padres offered Bell 2yrs $14 mil.

    @ Slasher

    Has there been any evidence that “big hitters” don’t want to sign with the Padres? We will never be able to sign premium bats because of our payroll. We’re going to have to win games with great pitching and clutch hitting. That’s how we won last year. That’s how the Giants won the World Series.

    Last year the Padres finished 45-36 at home. Should have been closer to 50-31 as we went 7-10 at home in Sept. I think fans want to come see a winner regardless of whether they do it with hitting or pitching.

  39. 1) Why does everybody assume that Adrian Gonzalez would have accepted an offer from the Padres in lieu of a similar offer from the Red Sox? He paid the whole “staying in San Diego” thing plenty of lip service but it also seemed pretty clear he wanted to play for a big time franchise that gave him lots of visibility and opportunity to win every year. Nothing wrong with that either. Personally I think he was out of here regardless.

    2) I believe GY’s original post here was implying that there is a relationship between Bell and the team’s revenue (or future revenue). I absolutely believe there is a correlation between entertaining players and fan interest even if it isn’t the primary factor in generating revenue (how many panda hats and fake beards were on display with Sandoval & Wilson were in town?).

    3) Hoyer had to consider the down side of trading Bell along with the upside of any prospects. It isn’t as simple as taking any warm body in return as that is better than nothing. Further alienating an already pissed off fan base costs real money and we all know this is a real business.

    4) Bell’s talk of accepting arbitration is likely a negotiating ploy on his part and it is rational. At the same time Hoyer still has options. If he lets Bell walk for nothing because he wouldn’t accept their “fair” offer then he is mostly off the hook with fans and has received only slightly less than the warm body he could have received today. If Bell stays then Hoyer can still trade him next July for that warm body. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like the trade market ever materialized to provide any better options.

  40. @Ford: See Bay Area Pads fan’s first point. Adrian wouldn’t have stayed here even if the Padres offered the same contract and had enough left over to build a team around him. It’s not just being on a competitive team, he was on a contender his last year. Petco suppressed his production, and that’s not just cash but accolades and HOF credentials.

    In Fenway, he’s a leading candidate for MVP and has a chance for the home run title, or batting title, or RBI title, or even the triple crown. In Petco, all he got in five years was an article in the Onion mentioning he’s the best player nobody knows, and they threw in a picture of his brother Edgar. Some people thought that was part of the joke, but the Onion later replaced the photo with one of Adrian – even the Onion didn’t know who he was!

    No slugger will want to come here, especially a lefty. When even a righty slugger has trouble hitting a ball over a 4-1/2 foot fence 367 feet to left, how would a lefty slugger feel, having to hit a ball over a 12 foot fence 387 feet away? Forget hitting a homer to the gaps – they’re over 400 feet away.

  41. @ Larry

    My point was that we’re never going to be able to afford a great great hitter. Those type of players command 7-10 year contracts between 15-25 mil per year. The Padres will never do that. Therefore, we will never have a premium hitter. You can move the fences in 100ft but our payroll is still going to be around $50-60 mil.

  42. @Larry: You have said what I’ve been trying to say only better.

  43. @Ford: Your point isn’t quite true. We HAD a premium hitter, for five years, named Adrian Gonzalez. We could have kept him for six, but traded him for, potentially, another premium hitter in Anthony Rizzo. We just can’t keep them beyond their arbitration years. That also means we don’t have to give them long term contracts that overpay them during their declining years. We got the added benefit of buying out his arbitration years at a reasonable price because he wanted security, and the club took the injury/regression risk. It’s not a hopeless situation vs the big market clubs, it’s just a different business plan.

    My point is simply that even if the Padres had a $150 million payroll and could pay what Adrian signed for, he’d still want to leave Petco’s horrors for (especially left-handed) power hitters. IOW if the Padres had the money, and still played at Qualcomm, he might have stayed. He’d have turned down the Red Sox, Yankees, ANYBODY, if they played in Petco.