Let's say you own the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team that finished in last place in  the American League East, 66-96, and in 2006 lost 100 games for the third time in franchise history (1998).

Then November is an important month for you. Not because A-Rod may feel sorry for you and agree to sign as your third baseman for the next ten years at $3 million a year. That stuff is reserved for fantasy baseball and even there you'd have to be smoking something to dream up that.

November is important because baseball's bean counters are tallying up gate receipts to determine how much you will receive in revenue sharing. Then, some of the wealth of the haves will be redistributed to the have-nots. Since you own the Rays, you are definitely in the have-not group, along with the Pirates, Athletics, Twins, Tigers, Padres, and the Colorado Rockies.

Wait a minute, you say, the Colorado Rockies were in the World Series, how can they be in the have-not group? Because have-nots are have-nots not because of how far they advance in post season play, but because of gate receipts (how many fans show up), press coverage and local cable television deals. In 2006 more than $300 million was transfered from the haves to the have-nots.

The Rockies received $15 million from revenue sharing in 2006. The Red Sox, the team that swept the Rockies in the World Series, contributed more than $50 million to the pool. Now you may think that because the Rockies went all the way by sweeping the Phillies and the D'backs, the team's fan base would have gone through the roof. Not so. By mid-September, the Rockies were only four games above .500 and more than 40 percent of the seats at Coors Field remained empty, which is exactly what makes them a have-not.

But even with revenue sharing the Rockies payroll of $54 million was still way below the major league average of $82 million and $90 million less than its World Series opponent.

Which brings us around to you, the Rays' owner. Your club has never had a winning season and you've received money from the haves' pool every year. In 2006 you received a nice check for $35 million, which is what A-Rod may get each year for the next ten years. Did you take that money and improve your ball club? No, and shame on you.

In 2006 your team had a payroll of about $35 million, way below the major league average, and in 2007 your payroll, even with your revenue sharing funds (the $35 million check?), actually dropped to $24 million. So, I ask you, where did the $35 million revenue sharing money you received go?

And don't give me any bull-story. Since you received the money from the haves' pool, why didn't your payroll go from $35 million in 2006 to $70 million in 2007? With $35 million additional funding and a little luck, you might have played above .500 for the first time in club history, and maybe put some more fannies in your empty seats.

What's that you say? If you would have done that--put the $35 million into your payroll and improved the club--more fans might have showed up for the games and guess what, when they tallied up the gate receipts the following November, your $35 million revenue sharing might have drop to $20 million.

Hmmm, sure, I understand that. So I guess what you are saying is that you would rather have a lousy team with 40 percent of your seats empty game after game, than dare lose a dime in revenue sharing. Sort of like a coke  addict, and we're not talking sugar water, here.

Well, maybe baseball ought to devise a new payout scheme to reward under-achieving teams that will increase attendance instead of rewarding them for decreasing attendance.

But you know what? For Major League Baseball, that makes way too much sense.

The Trade: The Phillies traded prospects Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo, plus journeyman pitcher Geoff Geary to the Houston Astros for 31 year old closer Brad Lidge. I don't like it and here's why: The Astors will insert Bourn as their starting center fielder in ' 08. Given the chance to play part time this year, Bourn, 24, did well. Handed a  full time job, I think he will become a star. Costanzo hit 27 home runs at Reading last year but also made a ton of errors at third. At 23, he could have Mike Schmidt kind of power. Schmidt hit 26 home runs at Eugene in 1972. 

 Lidge, 31, has had some issues in the last two years. Last month he had knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. In ' 07 he had 19 saves, compared to 103 saves over the previous three seasons. the Phils also received utility infielder Eris Bruntlett. 

The move allows the Phillies to shift Brett Myers back into the starting rotation.

 

 

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