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Archive for February 17th, 2011

After agreeing to table contract extension talks with Albert Pujols until after the 2011 season, St. Louis Cardinals’ owner Bill DeWitt Jr. lamented, “We’re not the Yankees”.

Like Musial, will Pujols end his career as a life-long Cardinal?

Although that statement is literally true (unless the Steinbrenners secretly sold the team over the winter), the Cardinals have historically been thought of as the “Yankees of the National League”. Other than the Bronx Bombers, no team has been able to match the Cardinals’ success, which includes 10 World Series championships and 21 National League pennants. Based on that resume, the red birds have built both a rabid local and regional following that has helped make the team one of the most popular in all of baseball.

Considering his team’s success and popularity, is DeWitt right to sell his storied franchise short by crying relative poverty? According to Forbes’ most recent MLB franchise calculations, the Cardinals rank eighth in both overall value ($488 million) and revenue ($195 million), but check in toward the bottom in terms of operating profit ($12.5 million). Based on those figures, it certainly does seem as if St. Louis is not in a position to make Pujols the highest paid player in the sport by giving him a 10-year deal worth approximately $300 million. However, they should be.

2009 MLB Franchise Valuations

Source: Forbes.com

A closer look at the Forbes’ study reveals that the Cardinals have had relatively stagnant revenue over the last few years, with the only significant bump occurring after the team opened up its new ballpark in 2006. Most recently, the team enjoyed no revenue growth between 2007 and 2009 (the entire sport grew 7.5% during this period), according to Forbes. Instead of leading the sport’s expansion, as you would expect a brand like the Cardinals to do, the organization’s revenue growth has fallen more toward the middle of the pack.

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