Picture from GQ.

Driving through California on my recent vacation, I was struck by two things:

1) Along with baseball and jazz music, America should be recognized for contributing the Pacific Coast Highway or California One to the world’s list of awesome stuff. I’m honestly not normally one for scenery, but driving south from San Francisco to Los Angeles down the coast was likely the best time I’ve ever spent in the United States.

2) There are a heck of a lot of billboards in Southern California advertising the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, both with the controversial El Hombre tag and without. Later on my trip I learned that this is no coincidence, that Arte Moreno, the owner of the Angels, has billboard sales to thank for the origin of his considerable financial worth.

I also learned about something that doesn’t come up as much of an issue for baseball fans in Toronto, but is absolutely vital throughout the State of California: regional fan bases. Just as the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants battle for fans in the Bay Area, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been attempting to swipe supporters from the San Diego Padres, while also engaged in a new battle with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over territorial claims.

This is the topic that opens a fascinating feature in GQ Magazine on Moreno. The entire interview is worth reading, but here are some of the more interesting quotes from the Angels owner.

On winning new members to his team’s fan base:

A Dodgers fan is a Dodgers fan; they have fifty years of history in L.A. You know, when I came in, I started talking about marketing to 8-year-olds, and everybody thought I was nuts. Now those kids are 20 years old, right? So they’ve been watching, and for eight years we’ve been very successful. That changes the game. So if you’re saying, ‘Are you marketing to young people in the area?’ Yes, I am.

On speculation that Albert Pujols is actually older than he claims to be:

We would never go there. He’s been in the United States since he was 16. Somebody starts checking on your age you start wondering, Do we really want to have a relationship like this?

On Albert Pujols aging over the life of his contract with the team, confirming that MLB free agent contracts evaluate a player’s average worth over the life of the contract:

We don’t look at one player, we look at twenty-five on the roster or nine on the field, and you just say: If he plays within these averages for our team, his averages are so much higher than anyone else’s that is playing right now. If you do have some erosion—let’s call it seven to ten years of solid production, not superstar production—look what it still does for a franchise. If he’s healthy enough and he’s playing for us, then I’m gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,’ because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat.

On the Vernon Wells acquisition:

We felt that if he hits his average of 25 home runs, 80 to 90-plus RBIs, bats .260 to .280, you end up with a good player for four years at $16-plus million a year, [and] you’re not having to pay [a free agent for] a longer period of time. The book’s not closed on Vernon, you know. But that was the thought process.

Notice that Moreno quotes a $16 million figure, despite Wells being scheduled to receive $23 million last season, and then $21 million in each year from 2012 to 2014. Perhaps the Toronto Blue Jays are paying a rumoured $5 million extra per year over the life of the Wells contract. That same figure was tossed around shortly after the deal was first announced.

And The Rest

From defensive metrics to everyone’s love of Roy Halladay, here are the top ten things I learned while at the SABR Analytics Conference last weekend. [Getting Blanked]

I spoke with Matt Kory last night about the Toronto Blue Jays for his massive AL East preview podcast. I’m pretty sure I didn’t once mention Jose Bautista. Seriously. [Over The Monster]

Just because the lawsuit is over, it doesn’t mean that the New York Mets can start spending. [New York Post]

How exactly do the San Francisco Giants justify rushing Emmanuel Burriss to the Major Leagues while waiting so long to give Brandon Belt a regular job? [McCovey Chronicles]

The Baltimore Orioles are taking a shot on Dontrelle Willis with a Minor League contract (of course, they are), but there could be some method to their madness, especially if they plan on converting him into a reliever. [Camden Depot]

Johnny Damon is the best player in baseball without a job. [SI.com]

The Kansas City Royals trade with the Houston Astros is every bit as exciting as one would imagine: Catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Jason Bourgeois to Kansas City for minor league pitcher Kevin Chapman and a player to be named later from Houston. [Royals Review]

J.D. Martinez of the Houston Astros would like to be pushed to his physical limits. [Ultimate Astros]

Texas Rangers converted starter Neftali Feliz left his start early with shoulder stiffness. [MLB.com]

The San Diego Padres signed catcher Nick Hundley to an extension that will keep him with the team until 2014, with a club option for 2015. [Gaslamp Ball]

Today in excess: A five pound fish sandwich to be served at Minor League Baseball games. [MILB.com]

Could Travis Snider be the next Jose Bautista? [DJF]

Speaking of Snider, there are some rumours that Matt Stairs had some critical things to say about Cito Gaston’s treatment of the prospect during his last tenure as manager in Toronto. [DJF]

Bill James talks about hockey stats. Sure. Why not? [Edmonton Journal]

Chili Davis is a man on a mission for the Oakland A’s. [ChicoER.com]

Comments (17)

  1. “Notice that Moreno quotes a $16 million figure, despite Wells being scheduled to receive $23 million last season, and then $21 million in each year from 2012 to 2014. Perhaps the Toronto Blue Jays are paying a rumoured $5 million extra per year over the life of the Wells contract.”

    I haven’t done the math, but it also seems possible that Moreno may be deducting the salaries of Juan Rivera and Napoli from the overall commitment to Vernon Wells to reach the $16m/season figure.

    • Napoli was arb eligible, and Rivera was in the last year of his contract.

      • yes, but that was still roughly $11,000,000 in salaries in 2011that but for the trade the Angels otherwise had to pay.

        So, $86M owed to Wells over 4 years minus $11M salaries traded to Jays minus rumored $5M one-time payment made by Blue Jays equals $70M total commitment to Wells over 4 years ($17.5M/season) …. I can’t get the math to work to reach $16M/season

      • You might be on to something there. Could that not also help to explain the discrepancy between AA’s payroll citations and what we find on Cot’s baseball contracts.

        (Was Cot’s always part of Baseball Prospectus, or did it move there recently?)

  2. The same kind of thing happened to the Jays in the 80′s. There were still a lot of hardcore Detroit fans in the area at the time, it was the prolonged success in the 80′s, coupled with the WS wins in the early 90′s that sparked a wave of interest from kids like me. The Jays were all over youth advertising, from the Catch De Taste Alomar commercial to the Junior Jays Fan Club. Its just too bad that strike happened and it sucked out all that momentum.

  3. Matt Kory ended his podcast with ‘Alright’.
    That combined with the giggle fits you two gave each other during that interview leads me to believe you guys were made for each other.

  4. So in short: Bill James had nothing to actually say about hockey and a little to say about basketball. Also, David Staples confused things by going all Euro on Mr. James when it comes to soccer. What a quality piece.

  5. Just listening to the podcast and, Parkes, you said regarding the lack of top-flight starting rotations in the AL East: “So… there’s that”.

    Well played.

  6. Johnny Damon > Roy Oswalt?

    • Ah. At least you know you’re getting a 1.5 – 2 WAR player with Damon. A lot more uncertainty with Oswalt. I’m playing devil’s advocate with that though.

  7. The thing to remember about the regional fan base is it breaks down by county. People in Orange County where Anaheim is located have always followed the Angels unless they grew up in LA and relocated. What Moreno is doing is going after southern LA county and the Inland Empire. I have noticed that the Angels billboards appear in southern LA county in locations closer to Angel stadium but you don’t see many of them as you get further into LA. Beyond that Moreno seems to be going after the Inland Empire as well which has split allegiance. The Inland Empire is interesting because it seems to split more along ethnic lines with the majority of Hispanic fans going for the Dodgers and the rednecks and other white 909er’s going for the Angels.

    As for San Diego Moreno can try going after the Padres fans but that would likely be futile even if the Angels are winning. Padres fans stay Padres fans and nobody is going to drive 1:30 to 2:00 to go see the Angels play in a hot stadium when they can see the Padres play in a nice cool ballpark a stone throw away from the harbor. Plus I have not seen one billboard for either the Dodgers or the Angels in San Diego county and I seriously doubt I would no matter how bad the Padres may be.

    Just curious what did you visit when you were in Southern California? And your welcome for PCH. =) Its an incredible drive from Oregon south to Mexico.

    • Just last week. It was fantastic. I saw Pujols billboards all over the place. On the 101, 60, 10, 110. The Santa Monica freeway was just about the only place I didn’t see any.

  8. “We would never go there. He’s been in the United States since he was 16. Somebody starts checking on your age you start wondering, Do we really want to have a relationship like this?”

    I dunno, that makes you all warm and fuzzy….but if I’m giving someone a quarter of a billion, I think I’d want to check out every conceivable issue. And I’m sure Albert as a smart businessman, would understand.

    Especially given the particulars of the age thing. Not saying I believe it, but there are reasonable people out there with reasonable suspicions about it..

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