- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Several of the biggest beneficiaries of baseball’s revenue-sharing plan have among the lowest payrolls in the majors, spending the money on prospects, not stars.

Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the teams with the three lowest payrolls in the major leagues, all received huge increases in revenue sharing last year, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press.

All three teams, unsuccessful on the field in recent years, have chosen to invest the money in their futures.

“We’re not going to spend $10million on one player,” Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said. “It’s not going to get us to the World Series, although it might make some people feel better. We had the largest winning percentage in the minor leagues last year. For us, that’s the only way we’re going to compete, with our minor league system.”

Under baseball’s new revenue-sharing system, which changed formulas to help middle-market teams, high-revenue clubs gave up $220million last year to their low-revenue competitors, up from $169million in 2002.

Milwaukee got $16.6million, up from $8.5million, according to the figures, which were provided to the AP by a major league team executive.

Pittsburgh’s share doubled from $6.4million to $13.3million, and San Diego’s went from $6.2million to $13.3million. Tampa Bay’s increased from $14.6million to $20.5million.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said his team’s low payroll has led some to conclude the team isn’t spending money.

“It’s not only the fans,” he said. “I don’t think players understand. I don’t think employees in our organization understand the money that goes into player development and scouting. I have to educate them on that.”

Montreal, owned by the other 29 teams, received the most revenue-sharing money last year ($29.5million), followed by World Series champion Florida ($21million), Tampa Bay and Kansas City ($19million).

Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar went with youth after watching Greg Vaughn sign a big-money deal and become a bust.

“We’ve taken giant steps over the last several years,” he said.

All teams’ locally generated revenue, minus ballpark expenses, is put into a pool and divided 30 ways.

The AL champion New York Yankees paid a major league high $52.7million, up from $26.6million, and Boston’s bill increased to $38.7million from $17.9million. Seattle paid the third-most ($31million), followed by the New York Mets ($21.5million).

Figures from 2003 haven’t been audited, and the 2002 numbers, while audited, still are pending final adjustments.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner occasionally has criticized teams for not spending their revenue-sharing money. Giants owner Peter Magowan has no problems with the way low-revenue franchises are using the money.

“People tend to focus only on using the money to spend at the major league level,” he said. “Teams like Pittsburgh and Milwaukee vastly improved their minor league systems through judicious investment in minor league players.”

Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, says it appears the new system is working. He cited San Diego, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Kansas City as among the teams with young talent.

While the Royals last year had their first winning season since 1994, the Brewers and Pirates haven’t finished above .500 since 1992 and the Tigers since 1993. Tampa Bay has finished last each year since joining the major leagues in 1998.

“I think it’s too early to make a definitive assessment,” DuPuy said. “But if you look at the number of young teams that appear to have good young talent on the field and good farm systems, you have to come to the conclusion that it appears to be having an impact.”

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