Did Ken Kendrick cross the line on his Stephen Drew comments?
There are a lot of really terrible owners out there. Of course the one that has most directly affected baseball fans in the recent past is Frank McCourt and his incredible mismanagement of the Dodgers’ franchise. The fact that the man was able to exit with cash in his pocket just illustrates how wrong that situation was. But he’s not the only one. The Pirates have also been victims of poor ownership while the NBA’s Clippers were known almost as much for their tight-fisted owner as they were for their years of ineptitude and sub-.500 records.
Ken Kendrick, though, he cares about his team. See, Kendrick isn’t just an owner, he’s also the managing partner, responsible for the day-to-day decisions that make a baseball team profitable in the global sense of the term. And let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes in to making a baseball team profitable. As an owner, you have to manage your assets and liabilities in such a way that you keep more cash flowing in than is flowing out, not always an easy prospect in these days of overinflated salaries.
The best way to ensure that your team remains profitable is to win. Fans like to come see winning teams and winning teams can also charge more for tickets and merchandise. There’s a reason why the cost of Yankees’ tickets goes up year after year while teams like the Pirates and Royals stay relatively constant. There’s also a reason why the Yankees, despite their enormous payroll, are still one of the most profitable teams in the game. It helps when you can broadcast most of your games on your own television station but when you’re also selling out the stadium for every game, that makes a big difference.
Which brings me back to Kendrick. Arizona is not a huge baseball market like the coasts or Chicago. However, Arizona has had a good baseball team and a baseball team that brings people to the stadium. Hiring pitchers like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped but as those days are gone, the D-Backs have to rely on new young talent to put butts in the seats. Talent like Stephen Drew. So, when Stephen Drew doesn’t play, the D-Backs don’t do as well and they also don’t put as many butts in the seats. This in turn makes the franchise less profitable, a fact of which the managing partner is very aware.
Drew’s 2012 salary is $7.75 million. He’s the highest paid player on the team and accounts for over 10% of the Diamondback’s payroll. He also hasn’t played a game for the Diamondbacks in nearly a year. As an owner, and especially as the managing partner, I imagine that would not sit so well. Sure, Drew had a pretty bad injury but he has the best doctors in the game working on him and if his boss says that he’s way over schedule for his return, well, I’m inclined to agree with him.
So, did Kendrick cross a line in his comments on Drew? In my opinion, no. He’s a frustrated manager who doesn’t believe his employee is acting in good faith and those actions are affecting the businesses profitability. Sounds like he has every right to be honked off.
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