Liberty CEO ($87.1 million) made more than Braves’ roster

See this man? He made more ($87.1 million) than the entire Braves' roster ($84 million).

The Braves must be an afterthought to Liberty Media and CEO Gregory B. Maffei.

The Braves could use a great outfielder. The problem is Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford will be way out of their price range when the free agent market opens.

They also could use Jayson Werth or Adam Dunn. Not going to happen. Like Crawford, Werth and Dunn will be on a shelf at Neiman Marcus. The Braves will be shopping down the street at Value City.

I have a few questions: Can Gregory B. Maffei be an every day outfielder? What kind of power numbers does he have? What’s his batting average with runners in scoring position?

The way I figure it, Maffei kinda, sorta, indirectly owns this team. If he’s going to make $87.1 million, the least he can do is help the Braves’ cause and grab a bat. He’s certainly not doing helping much with his gold card.

Carl Crawford likely won't be in a Ray or Braves' uniform next season.

Outfielder Carl Crawford likely won't be in a Rays or Braves' uniform next season.

Monday’s Wall Street Journal lists the top 10 paid CEOs among 456 of the largest U.S. public companies. Maffei, the head of Liberty Media Corp., which owns the Braves, tops the list. According to the Journal, Maffei “enjoyed total direct pre-tax compensation of $87.1 million last year, four times his 2008 package.”

I’m not going to debate whether somebody deserves four times their 2008 pay. That’s up to the company and the stockholders. But if a company is so flush with dollars that the CEO can draw an income of $87.1 million, is there not another $15 to $20 million a year for the Braves to beef up their anemic lineup?

Bashing general manager Frank Wren has become the favorite past time of some fans (and occasionally me). But consider the Braves’ payroll during Maffei’s ascent: According to various baseball salary databases, the Braves’ payroll dropped from about $102 million in 2008 to $97 million in 2009 to $84 million in 2010.

That represents an $18 million — or 17.6 percent — drop. It’s not quite the equivalent of  “four times his 2008 package.” In fact, $84 million is $3 million less than Maffei’s salary.

Maffei is keeping Liberty stockholders happy. The Journal article also stated that “Liberty’s total shareholder return for 2009 at 247% was the highest among the top ten.”

But shouldn’t Braves’ fans be considered stockholders?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

141 comments Add your comment

tyler

November 15th, 2010
11:27 am

TommyP

November 15th, 2010
11:28 am

While it would be nice to open the wallet, we’ve allocated our money to a few players. It’s still enough money to be a contender but we need to re-allocate where that money is going.

Chipper’s retirement would facilitate things. He’s hamstrung (pun intended) this franchise for years with his annual injuries.

tyler

November 15th, 2010
11:29 am

Now that that’s out of the way…Here’s a question, wasn’t there a time a couple of years ago that Arthur Blank was said to be interested in purchasing the Braves?

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:33 am

Tyler — Yes, Blank has expressed interest in past in buying Braves but that’s nowhere on radar now. I think he realizes owning both would make him an emotional wreck and, honestly, with H.D. stock down like everything else, not sure he can (or would want to) make that investment now. His only priority right now is getting a new stadium for Falcons (and helping them be successful).

STRETCH

November 15th, 2010
11:36 am

STILL CANT FIGURE OUT HOW YOU GIVE A 38 YEAR OLD ALL THAT MONEY?!!!

Tmac

November 15th, 2010
11:36 am

I know it’s out of the perspective (comparing CEO salary’s vs. MLB team budget), but C’MON…
That’s a hard pill to swallow for anyone. Much less a Braves fan.

MightyQuinn

November 15th, 2010
11:36 am

I wonder what, if any, kind of profit the Braves are turning for Liberty? Any sources, Jeff?

PMC

November 15th, 2010
11:38 am

In order to fix a problem you have to care about it. No one at Liberty gives a rats behind about how interesting the Braves are.

Mike Jay

November 15th, 2010
11:38 am

I remember Wren swearing up and down that the brave’s payroll was tied to ticket sales. Of course ticket sales have gone up the last 2-3 seasons in a row while the payroll has stayed the same or even declined. I guess he menat that anytime ticket sales are down he has to cut payroll but that I guess that formula does not work in reverse. :(

Glory Glory

November 15th, 2010
11:39 am

Schultz, I am sure whatever you made this year, it was also WAY too much.

I would pay you to leave the AJC if possible.

PMC

November 15th, 2010
11:40 am

Why won’t the Braves field a competent outfield next season?

So Bill Lumbergs stock can go up 1 quarter of 1 percent.

T-Bone

November 15th, 2010
11:41 am

Hey, lay off Schultz!! I kind of like him.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:42 am

MightyQuinn — It’s all speculation. Braves don’t have to disclose that obviously.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:43 am

Mike Jay — Sure, Frank Wren is just passing along what Liberty tells Terry McGuirk and McGuirk tells him. Economy hits ticket sales and sponsorships and stadium suite leases. Ripple effect is payroll goes down.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:44 am

Glory Glory — Really? OK, make me an offer.

Chief Notahomer

November 15th, 2010
11:46 am

We all knew this was going to be the case when AOL Time Warner and Liberty did their friendly stock transfer deal. I can’t determine who is worse from a fan standpoint, Liberty or Atlanta Spirit. Wanting Blank to buy the Braves if and when Liberty finally decides to sell (within next 2 years?) would be a dream scenario, but the chances of it happening aren’t very realistic. One thing is certain though: the team definitely needs an owner who can be singularly accountable for things, not a faceless conglomerate based in another city. How about Mark Cuban? He couldn’t buy the Cubs, but what about the Braves? It would be tremendous for the team and the fans, because Cuban would put everything he has in his heart and soul to build a winner. Tell me who would be better than him?!

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:47 am

T-Bone — That’s OK. Glory Glory is one of those posters who like to comment under different screen names. They’re kind of like imaginary friends, if you know what I mean.

Chuck Sheen

November 15th, 2010
11:49 am

Schultz,

Great article. I agree completely. Sick of Liberty’s anemic payroll. The fans deserve better.

Chuck

Gene

November 15th, 2010
11:51 am

Regarding Wren, I have two words: Andrus and Feliz. You have hit the nail on the head, so to speak, concerning the Braves’ lack of offense. Does Cam Newton play baseball?

JPM

November 15th, 2010
11:51 am

Once the tax incentives are up, Liberty needs to sell the Braves to a real person who wants to see a professional sports team succeed. Corporate owners don’t particularly care whether or not the team they own succeeds, just so long as it turns a profit. The Braves are on the cusp of being a really great team and an extra $15-$20 million would greatly enhance their opportunity to not only make the playoffs but bring another World Series trophy to Atlanta. I doubt Maffei really cares about the Braves successes, so long as Liberty’s profits increase.

coach joe

November 15th, 2010
11:54 am

I like you too….!

Forrest Gump

November 15th, 2010
11:57 am

I post under several names too, because I got tired of being threatened by Georgia fans. It would be nice to keep threats and personal attacks off of these message boards.

@DanWeiner

November 15th, 2010
11:57 am

The Braves operating income was $1.5 million in 2009. It’s dropped the last three years. They aren’t going to substantially raise payroll unless business is better.

http://www.bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=126

heartofdarkness

November 15th, 2010
11:58 am

It’s time to make some baseball fans in the House of Saud.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
11:59 am

Thanks Chuck.

Mike Jay

November 15th, 2010
11:59 am

Schultz,

i am sure Frank is being told that but when he tells the customers this with a nod nod wink wink. IE show and support the team and we will spend more on payroll you better damn well follow through o nthat. They have not, in fact they have spent less.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
12:01 pm

Gene — Schuerholz actually made that trade with Texas. Wren is one who dealt Teixeira to Angels (for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek).

Cam Newton/baseball — I’m sure if he wanted to, he could.

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

Forrest Gump — I hear ya. But as your momma said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Herschel Talker

November 15th, 2010
12:03 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT

FIRE BOBBY COX

Mike Jay

November 15th, 2010
12:03 pm

I think it actually goes ” Two Stupids do not make smart”

Jeff Schultz

November 15th, 2010
12:04 pm

@DanWeiner — Thanks for the link. For what it’s worth, teams often dispute Forbes’ figures on things. But they’re a good general barometer.

extremus

November 15th, 2010
12:04 pm

We can debate about how soon and to whom Liberty Media should sell the Braves, but the sad fact is as long as they can use the tax write-off or whatever to keep the team “profitable” for their fat cat stockholders (who are probably mostly Rockies fans anyway), they’re going to hold on tight and, if it helps the old “bottom line”, squeeze the very life out of this franchise.

I caught a comment made by Robin Roberts on HLN this morning regarding the debate over bringing the Lingerie Football League to Oklahoma City (yeah, you read that right): “As long as there’s money to be made off of it, it will probably happen”. Pretty much says it all, and why America as a nation (not just the sports community) is already halfway down the tubes with the rich and powerful working hard on the plunger. The love of money is indeed the root of all evil. So blame Liberty’s love for the Benjamins if the Braves once again field a team that “could have been better with more good pieces” next season.

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extremus

November 15th, 2010
12:08 pm

While we’re on the topic of the Braves, I agree that Dan Uggla would be a welcome presence offensively, but his defense would very likely give Braves fans unpleasant flashbacks of this year’s playoffs. In one game against the Braves this season, I actually felt bad for him. Definitely something to consider if you want “glovers” as well as hitters.

Dawgdad (The Original)

November 15th, 2010
12:09 pm

The Braves could not afford Cam.

We don’t need Arthur Blank, Turner Field does not need rebuilding and we don’t need to hear him whinning about how bad it is for revenue.

Lowcountry Bulldawgs

November 15th, 2010
12:09 pm

Texas had a payroll ranking of 27 out of 30 teams. San Francisco ranked 10th. So it is not persay how much you spend, but how wisely you spend. If it were how much the Yankees would win every year. The Braves are ham strung financially because of poor choices in contracts given to Chipper, Lowe and KK.

You may fault Liberty for not stepping in and bailing out the Braves financially, but Atlanta still had a top half Payroll. Wrenn and Company know the score. Wrenn has to evaluate better and be more shrewd in the Free Agent market and trade market. Is it easy? No, but again Libert Media was the same ownership then as it was today when he became GM.

Not Don Waddell

November 15th, 2010
12:13 pm

Obviously, Liberty is a shrewd company. Why would they invest in something with diminishing returns like the Braves? Hell, Turner Field barely sells out for the biggest games of the year.

Would Liberty be smart to invest in the Braves and try to re-create the brand identity of the mid-90’s, when the Braves were as important and valuable as any team in MLB? Probably, but the fact is, without the national cachet of TBS anymore, the Braves are just a regional favorite to an economically depressed region.

Another column about how the CEO’s salary represents just how out-of-whack America is right now in terms of the haves and have-nots would be interesting, but quite frankly, I don’t see how a huge financial investment in the on-field product would be a good business move for Liberty.

Dawglasville

November 15th, 2010
12:15 pm

I said it when the Falcons were at their lowest point, fighting pit bulls, cowardly coaches, Free Mike Vick shirts… the Falcons are closer to winning a championship than any Atlanta sports team because of ownership. The other 3 will never play for the big prize under these ownership groups.

The Sham

November 15th, 2010
12:16 pm

@ Glory Glory: You sure you are on the right blog? I think you meant your comments for Mark Bradley. Over there, you might actually get some one to agree with your offer to buy the Hatchet man out!

Schultz, Towers and DOB are the 3 main reasons I come to work everyday! Just so I can log on at lunch and get caught up on the matters real importance!

MrMiyagi

November 15th, 2010
12:16 pm

The fact that the team was more successful as their payroll was being cut doesn’t bode well for those hoping the Braves would make a splash in free agency. This is, of course, the new corporate motto: “Do more with less resources.” Hell, if I made that much money and got more than a 200 percent return for my shareholders, I might even look to sell the team to generate even more profit for the company. Desite the rosy projections put out by MLB, baseball is a dying sport in the American conscious. Better to sell while the asset is up than wait for it to go down.

Vain Jangling

November 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

$87.1 Million? Good grief! That’s sports columnist money!

JRS

November 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

I’ve even gone as far as going to Liberty Media’s website and put in their comments section something along the lines of: If you don’t want a winning baseball team, then sell the Braves instead of lowering the payroll. I’m so sick of these corporate big wigs making more money than they’ll ever spend while the rest of us struggle to get by.

Raphael Belliard

November 15th, 2010
12:22 pm

Question: If you owned a professional sports team, obviously you are competetive, and super successful, so why do owners not want to pony up the dough to field the best team possible? It would seem to me that if my team struggles to compete (not neccessarily the Braves) I would either sell the team or invest in it. Or maybe I have billionaires pegged wrong, but I figured most would have to much pride and ego to let their team wallow in mediocrity, i.e. George Steinbrenner.

The Sham

November 15th, 2010
12:22 pm

On the matter at hand… While I hate to give grief to any private company or employees for making a lot of money, I must agree that this stings a bit.

But if I remember right and other feel free to correct me if I’m wrong… I thought the Braves were purchased for tax purposes. I’m assuming (again, fact check me at your will), that means they were expected to operate at a loss. So I can’t blame the “man” for only trying to lose a little, rather than lose a lot of money…

It could always be worse… Just ask the Marlins fans in town what it means to have a “polarizing” owner like Jeffrey “Flooryawithmyconstantbadandcrazydecisions”

Chipper Jones

November 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

I am playing another 5 to 10yrs. Deal with it

DHD

November 15th, 2010
12:26 pm

Spending money doesn’t always fix the problem. Look at the NY Mets, for example. We just need to tweak a bit. We could have won the whole thing had it not been for a few injuries.

I do hope Liberty sells the team to someone who cares.

Andrew Jones

November 15th, 2010
12:27 pm

They can get me for cheap. I hit more home runs then a lot of the braves big bats last year. I wanna come back pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Kudzu

November 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

I got one word (actually two words) for why things are screwy….GUARANTEED CONTRACTS.

eric the elder

November 15th, 2010
12:31 pm

A lot of Braves fans voted for a political party that wants to give Maffei a huge tax break.

The Sham

November 15th, 2010
12:31 pm

@ Chipper Jones – do want you want to, but you won’t doing it here after 2011…