A New Baseball Marketing Strategy?

When looking at the free agent signings in the off-season, it was pretty much a consensus that there was some serious overpaying of services going on. It seemed like some teams felt like they had to make a move, if the market was overpriced or not. Well, maybe these teams did need to change their rosters, but not just for the reason of making their teams better.

I wonder if teams don’t believe they need to pick up a big name free agent, trade for a potential star or fire their manager, just so they have something new to market to their fanbase. In our fast-food world, the consumer needs something new to spur it’s interest to buy tickets for the next season. It used to be just the Yankees and Mets would play this game of trying to stay on the back page of the fishwrap, but now even teams who are not in large markets, appear to be adopting this business plan.

I haven’t read anything on this topic, but I think there might be something to this. I’m aware that I might just be grasping at straws (syringes might be a better analogy in the current climate), but a majority of the deals made in the off-season made little financial sense. I’m definitely looking for some feedback, so you have the floor.

7 thoughts on “A New Baseball Marketing Strategy?

  1. 1.  I think you’ve got it nailed. Think of the heat “Stand Pat” Gillick got in Seattle all those years. Fans like new faces, especially in April.

  2. 2.  In Chicago there was a ton of off-season marketing going on.

    On the North Side, they convinced the fan base that they didn’t need Sam-me; that he was the problem. Clement, Alou, Sosa out; Hairston, Burnitz, Stephen Randolph in. They don’t need to market.

    On the South Side, they conviced the fan base that they didn’t run around the bases fast enough, and that was the problem. In retrospect, with the major over haul they pulled, they probably could have gone with an “Extreme Makeover: Baseball Edition” type theme.

  3. 3.  I do not think this is a new concept, I think some teams for a long time have made/make deals so that they do not head into the next season with the same lineup and have something to market to the fans. Besides, they get a lot of free advetisement and press out of the signings.

    Not sure if you have read October 1964 or not but the author there gives that for the reason why the cubs traded Lou Brock to the Cards for Ernie Broglio. (basically niether team made an off season trade to that point and both GM’s felt they needed to do something to be able tell the fans that they have an improved team)

  4. 4.  I don’t think it’s a new concept either, although it seems to be taking off more recently. It is the best way to spur interest in a team coming off of a disappointing season. “Hey look, we were 74-88 last year, but look at all these shiney new players we have.” This also explains a lot of the recent massive turnover of NBA coaches of the last few years.

  5. 5.  My point was that this strategy has spread to almost every team in the off-season, where it used to just be a handful of teams.
    Interesting story on the Brock trade.
    Since it’s so hard to trade players in the NBA and NFL, coaches are the one’s who have to always take the fall, where not having a salary cap in baseball helps movement.

  6. 6.  It does seem to have spread some, but I would not be suprised if a couple other factors figure into it as well,

    1) I think baseball owners would just as soon that the steroid talk cease, and would be willing to try and push the steroid articles to the back pages. (let the SF papers talk about Alou and matheny rather then Bonds testimony or Washington papers with Castillo and Guzman)

    2) I think that salaries seemed to top out after the A-Rod, Manny, Jeter signings in early part of 2000 and I think just now teams are starting to get some of these over priced signings off their books or at least seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of learning their lesson I think that they have let the extra money burn a hole in their pocket. (I would put he Mets in this catagory, just starting to get Mo’s salary off lets go wild, or the Tigers, lets see the top 5 guys we wanted turned us down, well lets really over pay the 6th guy on our list, who cares that we really needed another pitcher or too or that he plays a position where we already are over paying a couple of other guys)

  7. 7.  If this were the case and this is spreading, would it be bad?

    Baseball owners are capitalists, and their revenues come from ticket sales, broadcasting rights, and merchandise/advertising. They don’t make money from winning — they make money from winning only if winning turns into better attendance, ratings and merchandising. Winning isn’t the only way to make money in sports (though it tends to help.)

    What’s interesting is that the financial benefit of winning will certainly vary market-by-market. Those differences will necessarily impact the market value of free agent talent, especially since the market for talent will always be imperfect. Sabermetric analyses of offseason signings usually assume a “perfect market” and critique front office decisions on that basis, but that approach misses the nuanced, marginal revenue approach to roster development that team owners should be using.

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