The smooth operator of the Cleveland Indians
This is where things get a little tougher for me as I have a strong attachment to Michael Brantley. He was my favorite player during his years in Cleveland and I always saw the value that he brought to the team even considering his injury history.
Too often, fans use this example as a way to throw shade at the Dolans for their spending habits and while I can understand the frustration, I can see the business side of this decision as well. Larry and Paul Dolan have taken some serious heat in the past about their seeming inability to spend money. Most of this is deserved because, as fans (myself included), our only wish is to see our favorite team win a championship. In this instance as much as it pains me, I have to say that not bringing back Michael Brantley was probably the correct move.
The Dolans own a professional baseball team because they are businessmen and they see it as a way to expand their wealth. That being said, just as every other company does, the Dolans have a projected profit and loss report put together each offseason. They are able to set their ideal profit margin and find a sweet spot for things such as ticket and concession prices, advertising and merchandising budgets, and of course team payroll.
Regrettably, Michael Brantley was worth even more than the $16 Million per year he was given by the Astros and those numbers just wouldn’t have fit. From Brantley’s final season with the club in 2018 to 2021 the Indians front office cut payroll from $135 million to $59 million, respectively. Most of this was done because of the loss expected from the Covid-19 pandemic but the trend had begun even before then.
It was never in the cards for Michael Brantley to make his money in Cleveland and the sooner we all realize that the better off we will all be. If you want to see more money spent, the pitiful truth is, you have to put more money in the Dolans’ pockets. It’s a disgusting thought to make the rich richer but when you have a business-minded owner in a small market as opposed to one driven by winning you have to make the sacrifice to help things along.
In 2021, the final season for the Cleveland Indians, they averaged 13,000 seats filled per game. This is by far the lowest attendance of any season since 1991. Coming back from a year where revenue reportedly decreased by $173 Million, that attendance number doesn’t help to narrow the gap.
And finally, there is one name that I wanted to be able to dismiss without a second thought but somehow this particular guy just slipped through the cracks and has actually gone on to become an extremely undervalued player.