Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has his annual look at teams’ ticket surcharges — convenience fees, printing fees, processing fees, whatever — up today, helping you figure out how much you’re really paying for a ducat to each game. It’s a handy post which tells you — after it’s all said and done — what you’re truly paying for a cheap seat at each park.
Fun fact: the only teams left who actually charge you to print you tickets off at home are the Yankees and Brewers. How that costs them anything and how that represents anything other than the most craven gouging I have no idea. But as Jaffe demonstrates, the maze of fees involved is so complicated that a team like the Yankees can say “hey, we charge you to print, but we will mail you tickets for free” and the Brewers can say “hey, we charge you to print but we have no processing fees” and in so doing attempt to come off as reasonable.
Which is the largest takeaway here: these fees are so amorphously-named and their justification so varied that it’s truly hard to tell who is bending you over and who isn’t.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.