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Batavia Muckdogs sale reinforced by continued Rochester losses

Rochester Community Baseball, owner of the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and operator of the Short-Season Class-A Batavia Muckdogs, has announced a loss of $117,000 for the 2011 fiscal year. It was the group’s third money-losing year in the last four.

One factor has been the inability to show a profit in running the Muckdogs. Since assuming control of the Batavia franchise in 2008, RCB has lost around $600,000 in total on the Muckdogs, according to an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Though not rendered explicit in the article, based on past disclosures, this would signal the Muckdogs lost in the area of $110,000 in 2011, up from their $92,000 deficit logged in 2010. That would represent the majority of the Rochester loss in 2011.

Comments from RCB officials no longer hold out hope for a turnaround in Batavia, but instead reflect a realization that sale of the team is inevitable.

“We plan to continue operating the Batavia franchise until it is sold,” RCB President/CEO/COO Naomi Silver told the paper. “Making money any season in Batavia is a tall order. We know that now. Batavia has an extremely loyal fan base but it isn’t large enough. But when the team is sold, we expect to make a considerable profit.”

Despite fielding competitive baseball teams, the Muckdogs have consistently remained among the bottom-dwellers of the New York-Penn League in attendance, drawing on average around 1,000 per game.

RCB’s operating agreement with the Batavia ownership includes five percent take of the eventual sale price of the team. This will be the fifth year of the arrangement, so RCB would receive 25 percent of the sale proceeds from the Muckdogs franchise. That should be over a million dollars and could be as much as $1.5 million.

“The going price for a team in the NY-P League is $5 to $6 million,” Silver said. “I believe it is inevitable that the Muckdogs will be sold. I get a call or two a week from potential buyers.”

The team has been on the market since at least the third quarter of 2010, but no timetable for a sale has been disclosed. The St. Louis Cardinals Player Development Contract with the Muckdogs runs through the 2012 season and at this point, it seems the team will play at least one more year in Batavia.

What happens after that is entirely up in the air.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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44 Responses to “Batavia Muckdogs sale reinforced by continued Rochester losses”

  1. Bw52 says:

    MLBtraderumors says Cards signed LHP RJ Swindle to a minor league deal with a ST invite.Former TB farmhand.Looks like he will be Memphis lefty bullpen .

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    We have added Swindle and Browning, to supplement Freeman at Memphis.

  3. Bw52 says:

    Cards also signed INF_OF Eugenio Velez to a minor league deal.Velez was 0-37 with SF last year.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Our chances of landing Carlos Beltran seem low. The Red Sox and Toronto are after him. They will outbid the reigning Executive of Last Year!
    No wonder we are wooing Coco!

    • crdswmn says:

      Two tweets from Scott Miller of CBS Sports in the last 40 minutes:

      “Carlos Beltran hopes to make decision this week. Cardinals & Blue Jays among most aggressive. Has 2 and 3 yr offers.”

      “Beltran choice appears to be weighing city he prefers to play in vs. larger avg annual value contract”

      Why do I think Toronto is not the city he prefers to play in?

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Toronto is a cosmopolitan city.
        The Blue Jays underbid on Darvish. If so, they now have lots of budget for other purposes.
        Is Beltran represented by Albert’s agent?

        • crdswmn says:

          Lozano is Beltran’s agent.

          The only reason I think he might not want to play in Toronto is because the artificial turf there would be bad for his knees.

          Then again, it was said that he wants to be somewhere where he can get to Puerto Rico faster and Toronto has non stop flights to there where St. Louis doesn’t. So who knows.

          I don’t think the BoSox are that heavily into Beltran from what I read on MLB Trade Rumors. Most seem to think it will be either Toronto or St. Louis.

      • blingboy says:

        So will the union be calling him to get him to make the right decision?

      • JumboShrimp says:

        “Beltran’s choice appears to be weighing the city he prefers to play in versus the larger average annual value contract.”

        This lingo can be interpreted. Do players choose on the basis of “annual value.” It could happen if the disparity was large. In this case, the Jays may have offered 3 years at about $11MM/yr, while the Cards could have bid 2 years at $12MM/yr. Given these choices, 999 out of 1,000 times, the player will choose the longer duration contract, owing to its higher guaranteed value. $33MM beats $24MM.

        Because greater money is beckoning Beltran to Toronto, he starts to talk about love, to change the topic from just money. Its like Albert talking about how deeply he fell in love with Arte’s commitment. (DeWitt does not have much use for this kind of absurd gibberish.) So Lozano/Beltran say, Carlos wants to play in Toronto, despite another team even offering more money per year, because he loves Toronto and Jays fans. This is pure hyporisy and spin on their part, since they do not care a fig about money per year, instead about total money across a multi-year deal. Its all about the money and Toronto is offering more.

        But MLB and the MLPA do not like it being clear-cut that its all about money, since this makes America’s passtime less romantic and more mercenary and might discourage fans of small market teams. So for marketing purposes there is often gibberish about commitment and feelings. But in reality, it boils down to moola.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    For Toronto, Beltran can DH, saving knees. Given the DH, the Blue Jays can probably offer a 3 year deal, whereas the Cards must be offering the two year deal, with a higher average value per year.
    Generally agents choose a 3 year deal over a 2 year.
    We will battle Epstein for Crisp.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Toronto has often been a home for Latin players. The Jays have current slugger Bautista from the Dominican. There were shortstops Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandes, and even Cesar Izturis might have been first signed by the Jays, IIRC. One of the great sluggers in team history was from Puerto Rico, Carlos Delgado.

    • crdswmn says:

      “We will battle Epstein for Crisp.”

      I would prefer we didn’t and say we did.

    • Nutlaw says:

      If not Beltran, I’d rather that the Cards looked to Andruw Jones than Crisp, though all of the noise has certainly suggested the latter.

      • blingboy says:

        I would too, Nut, but surely its not yet that desperate. Wouldn’t Ludwick or Ankiel be preferable.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Crisp is circa 31, so younger than many aging free agents. He can play CF and switch-hit.
        Coco will be hoping to land a two year deal. Last winter he could only land a one year contract for $5.25MM. Epstein gave Crisp a three year extension, when they were both with the Red Sox.
        The problem with free agency, from a Cards point of view, is expense, during December. Its hard to get thrilled about Coco for 2 years, at $5-7MM p/yr.
        Bargain shopping starts during January. Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick were making above $6MM during 2011. What have their prices fallen to for 2012? $3-4MM? Ankiel might be down to $1MM.

        For a team to find a big winner among free agents, you have to roll the dice on cheap long-shots and hope to get lucky.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        What is the chance a guy who played for the Bronx Bombers last summer, Jones, with an 851 OPS, would leave the bright lights of Broadway for St Louis? If Andruw’s OPS falls to 600, then maybe he would consider it.

        • Nutlaw says:

          Jones was only paid $1.5M last season and only $500k per year the two years previous. He only had 222 PA in 2011. More money and potential playing time usually sways most people. Playing for the defending champs might have some appeal, as well.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Nutlaw, if Jones establishes baseball usefulness, the Yankees will simply up his pay the next year and retain him. The Cards are unlikely to outbid the Yankees until such time as the Yanks are done with a player and throw him back in the pond.

            • Nutlaw says:

              That’s not necessarily the case. The typical big spenders haven’t been throwing money around this year like they used to and won’t overbid on bench players just because.

  6. blingboy says:

    Since Goold plugged TCNB the other day, including a link, I decided to read his column, and I learned two things.

    First, Mark Hamilton has bad timing. He’s in winter ball converting to an outfielder.

    Second, The Cards must not have a scout in Mexico. Swindle is down there and he’s 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA. In 2 starts and a relief appearance he’s racked up seven innings.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Check my article out if you can. A lot more detail. Swindle hasn’t pitched in winter ball for the last seven weeks. Likely he was quickly released. Guys aren’t given long to either perform in winter ball or are gone. That already happened to Hamilton once this winter.

  7. blingboy says:

    Buster Olney
    The Indians have jumped into the Carlos Beltran negotiations.

  8. JumboShrimp says:

    JC Romero will get $750,000, plus up to $75,000 via incentives. Last year, JC made $1.3MM. Getting released 3 times will deflate future earnings.
    Thus far, the reigning Executive of the Year has shelled out $12MM for Lance, $7MM for Raffy, and $750,000 for JC.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Typo on the incentives. Should be $750,000.

      Not to diminish the job Mozeliak has done, but baseball observers would credit Doug Melvin of Milwaukee and Dave Dombrowski of Detroit as the rightful MLB Executive(s) of the Year. They tied for tops in the annual Sporting News award, which has been selected based on front office personnel voting since 1936.

      Mo won a new award created for fans by MLB and voted upon by online balloting – after the post-season. Not quite the same stature… 😉

      • JumboShrimp says:

        A significant difference. No wonder JC signed so fast, even thought Albert bailed. I had assumed JC was impressed by DeWitt’s commitment, but it must have been the money. Money seems the way love is expressed.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    An encouraging thought for those who want Mo to succeed at trading Lohse or Westbrook. The Twins signed Jason Marquis. Jason is still landing ML contracts, six years after the Cards left off their playoff roster because he turned in a 6 ERA for 2006. If there is still a job for Jason, one would hope Mo could find a nice new home for Lohsbrook.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I don’t get the connection at all. I’ve seen no one question Lohse’s or Westbrook’s ability to be a major league starter. Their appeal to another club will start and end with how much salary the Cardinals will eat as both are overpaid compared to their return. If Marquis flames out, the financial risk is peanuts. Not so with the two Cardinals.

  10. blingboy says:

    “The financially troubled Mets announced Tuesday that they were eliminating their minor league team in the Class A Gulf Coast League. That move could save them between $750,000 and $800,000, according to executives with other franchises who are familiar with the cost of running those teams.”

    If it costs an MLB org $750K/yr to run a Gulf Coast League team, and the Dogs are only losing $100K/yr, it wouldn’t be a huge deal to just take over the Batavia operation.

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