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How much is Milton Bradley (or any baseball player) worth?

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Friar Forecast has a post on how valuable Milton Bradley might be over the next few years. During grad school, we had to do player valuations in finance classes. My group presented a valuation of BJ Ryan. I learned many a lesson from that valuation.

Incidentally, the primary reason we chose to do BJ Ryan was so that I could say, in front of a group of MBA candidates, "Our analysis will in fact answer the question... What is the value of a BJ? [pause] or a Trevor Hoffman? Or a Mariano Rivera? And once you have an idea of the value of a BJ... How much should you pay for a BJ? [pause] Or a Trevor? Or a Mariano?" Crass, I know... but oh the laughs.

In any case, after we presented our valuation, I had the chance to talk with Jim Bloom, formerly Director of Marketing for the Blue Jays, and he said, "Whatever you valued for BJ Ryan, it was too low."

Oh. Well, thanks. And the reason why?

"You do these valuations with an eye towards how many wins a player will get you and you credit that towards things like post season tickets and stuff, right? Well, the thing that people forget about Toronto is it's not just the only baseball game in town... It's the only baseball game in the entire country."

I paraphrase what he said, but the gist of it is that we have to balance how much a player is going to help the Padres win, with how much a player is going to help the Padres draw fans and subsequently, how much a player is going to make those fans want to spend money. It's the same balancing act that GMs are forced to work with. Granted, it's not like the Padres are looking to satisfy an entire country of baseball fans, but the point is made. We can't just think about wins.

This is also why I strongly suspect that overweight players who are even minimally more valuable in terms of contributing to wins, are more valuable overall in that they make fans feel OK with buying an extra hot dog or bag of peanuts.

Of course, some GMs and executives feel that fans will always watch a winner. To those people, I submit the Atlanta Braves as evidence against the supposed fact. Why wouldn't people go to Braves games when they were kicking everybody's asses? It's because that was a f_cking boring ass group of dudes. Seriously. Glavine? Smoltz? Ugh? Maddux before he admitted that he likes to pee on people? Puhleeze.

Anyways, I'm not sure where I was going with this except to take my mind off of the idea that I wish Milton had stayed with us. I don't blame the guy for wanting an extra million dollars. We've all become a little bit jaded to think that we wouldn't appreciate another million dollars, and that Milton Bradley would appreciate an extra million dollars to spend 8 months in Texas is actually a testament to his intelligence. Loyalty to a club that had you on its roster for all of 3 1/2 months is measured in teaspoons.