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It's Not Hot, and There's No Stove. Discuss.

The promised hot stove season has become more like that sad little hibachi you had in college, the one that sat on the patio all winter under the ice and snow and eventually rusted completely through.

I was out sick yesterday but I apparently didn't miss much other than the Perez signing and the unveiling of "NatsTown."

Here are a couple of tidbits to mention.

Chad Cordero will throw off a mound for interested clubs on Feb. 18. Or Feb. 19. I've seen it both ways. mlbtraderumors has Feb. 19 but neither source gave the site. Don't know if this will take place in Florida or Arizona or one of the 48 less-important-in-February states.

The Nats lose their head groundskeeper to the Twins.

And here is what (I hope) is your laugh for today: bad closer songs. I am not hip enough to know all of these but still enjoyed it.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 6, 2009; 9:56 AM ET
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The Nats have been quiet so far in free agency. Their minor league organizational rankings are again slipping to low levels. They don't trade for guys with large contracts (ever). Their international signings of $100K and above kids and vets have dropped to close to zero. The Nats have not signed the face-of-the-franchise.

How much of this decline is related to a lack of investment, and how much to the fact that it just takes time to build? For example, could investments in players of value (higher-than-bargain-basement contracts) through trades and free agency help produce extra draft picks down the road?

This is interesting:

It shows the Nats make the highest profit in MLB. The Nats have shown nice profits every year under the Lerners (reversing a 2005 pre-Lerners loss).

It also shows low revenues. The Nats so far are not tapping enough into this major market of ours, because of a boring product. So, to compensate, the Nats keep costs low to derive profits.

You can scroll down and see other years. The Nats' franchise valuation increase is among baseball's lowest the last couple years. So those who applaud the Nats for their sound business practices should keep in mind that it sometimes takes investments to build the franchise value long-term, even if short-term profit is sacrificed some. This is true for most businesses, of course.

Posted by: EdDC | February 6, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I draw the line when we have to start overpaying groundskeepers.

Posted by: dclifer97 | February 6, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Chad Cordero will throw off a mound for interested clubs on Feb. 18. Or Feb. 19."

My God, he really has lost a lot on his fastball, when it takes over a day for it to reach the plate.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 6, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

JiM, did you mastermind the steal of DeVito?

Cute song piece, Tracee. Thanks for the link. Speaking of Chad, too bad the guy who wrote the original piece didn't realize that Hail to the Chief had already been done for a closer. :-(

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 6, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

uh, DiVito, rather.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 6, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"This is interesting:"

It's also an article that's over a year old, that was based entirely on conjecture with no access to hard data to back it up, and that's hosted on the website of a guy in Portland who advocated for MLB to move the Expos there instead of to Washington and who probably still has a little taste of sour grapes in his mouth. That all is interesting too, and probably every bit as relevant as what you pull out of the article.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 6, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Good background work on the context, nunof.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 6, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

new post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 6, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Go ahead and dismiss Forbes Magazine's valuation of MLB teams if you like. I can understand not wanting to give it credibility. But the info covers 2005 through 2008, so it is fairly recent. A new edition of the Forbes info is due in April, but this is the latest as of now. It does not seem too fictional to me, unless the Forbes' data was misquoted or misattributed.

Posted by: EdDC | February 6, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I got my lawnmower, spreader, and hose ready...sign me up!

Posted by: 1of9000 | February 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Nice Thom Loverro piece this morning. Nice piece in the Express too.

Good times when Eddie Guardado is mortified by the prospects of playing for you. Attendance won't touch 2 million this year.

Posted by: RickFelt | February 6, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I have enormous respect for Forbes, but something doesnt seem right about the profitability (or, strictly speaking) EBITDA part of the chart. It has the Marlins as 2007's most profitable team by a margin of nearly 100%, and the second most profitable team in baseball (after the Nationals) last year.

I realize they have lower payrolls than teams like the Yankees, but even so, it just seems impossible based on their revenues.

All that aside, the fundamental point is that this is a major market, the potential is there to be profitable even with a big-payroll (or at least bigger-payroll team), and Nats fans deserve an ownership that is aggressively trying to build a contender.

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 6, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

What he said, and none of this says anything about what happened to the money "after"--did they put it back into the organization in some fashion not accounted for here? I dunno.

Posted by: CEvansJr | February 6, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

EBITDA? I wonder what the "I" the Lerners have been paying on the money borrowed to buy the team is.

I've thought for a while that the repeated phrase "we aren't going to take a $ out of this team for the first 10 years" might have a flip side - they also are going to use only the cash generated by the team to pay the team's cost. For example, the extra $50 - 60 million in improvements to Nats Park they talk about kicking in - did that come from cash flow internally generated or from taking on additional borrowing?

I'm also curious about whether MASN is kicking in revenues yet. I think their ownership stake is about 15%. As I understand it, these regional sports networks make most of their money off the cable systems paying X per home rather in advertising revenues. If that is the case, perhaps MASN is generating some revenue, too. I don't think Forbes accounted for that.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 6, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

EBITA is an equalizing factor. Suppose you are very rich and own a building you are renting. The building is worth $600 million, let's say. You could pay cash for it if you wanted to. If you did, your earnings after interest (to take the "I" as a poster did) would be more than if you took out a loan for $550 million.

The Forbes data are not meant to be definitive. It just shows trends--low revenues, low expenditures, low franchise appreciation. The question to ponder is: could revenues and franchise valuation be boosted with expenditure increases? Wins, too, of course.

Posted by: EdDC | February 6, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

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