Let’s go to the mailbag. Lots of questions that we’ve covered in different places over the years, but apparently haven’t addressed recently.

Hi, Gary. Thanks for the Mock Winter Meeting Pizza Feed. It was the best evening out I’ve had in a while. My question is about “related part transactions,” which you mentioned in passing while talking to one of the other owners. What is a related part transaction, and thank you for the recommendation on Podunk.

— C.M.

Thanks for coming out to the feed. You probably misheard me, which is understandable in an overheated room filled with 35-40 enthusiastic owners and agents trying to either get or dump big contracts. The term is “related party transaction,” and it refers to transactions between companies with common ownership or stakeholders, at least in the context in which I was using it.

Let me give an example: The Atlanta Braves and TBS are owned by the same entity. So when the Atlanta Braves sell the rights to broadcast their games to TBS, it’s called a Related Party Transaction. The money’s coming out of one pocket of the common owner, and being put into another. The parties are related by common ownership, and they’re entering into a transaction. Why should you care?

It’s interesting because sometimes, owners have incentives to make one particular holding look either wealthier or poorer than it really is. For example, let’s say you own a ballclub–let’s call them the “Cubs.” Now, these “Cubs” might have an agreement with some other entity to share the revenue earned by selling tickets to their game. If you were smart, you could create another entity; let’s call it “Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services,” that might buy tickets to Cub games for, say, $10 a pop. Your “Cubs” would then share a portion of that $10-per-ticket, while your other business, Wrigley Premium Ticket Services, sells those tickets to fans for, say, $20 a pop. That’s revenue you don’t have to share with the rest of the league.


For the record, Related Party Transactions are a fantastic tool in many industries. I encourage all our readers to form a couple of corporations just to get creative.

Gary: Please help me in an argument. I’m discussing the relative skillz of Corey Patterson versus Marlon Byrd with the glove. Patterson’s faster, but my friend points to Patterson’s range factor of 1.96, which is much lower than Byrd’s 2.45. Patterson clearly is a better fielder when I watch them. Can you help me out? Thank you.

— Eric Heller

I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to help out in a “skillz” debate before, which probably says something about my ever-advancing age. I might be able to help you, however. In the field of defensive metrics, I’m dubious about pretty much everything out there as a be-all and end-all of defensive performance. Range Factor has a few holes. In the specific case of Patterson vs. Byrd, let’s check out some confounding factors:

Range Factor is pretty much just the number of balls turned into outs per nine innings. For outfielders, it’s largely just (Assists/Innings) * 9. If there’s some reason that Byrd is getting more opportunities for fly balls than Patterson, that could work in your favor. Is he?

Probably. The Cubs struck out a league-leading 1,454 batters in 2003, compared to 1,060 for the Phillies. The technical term for that difference is “mammoth.” That’s 394 more balls in play for the infielders and outfielders in Philadelphia than in Chicago. There’s some ammo. Is there anything else?

Turns out there is. Chicago pitchers throw more groundballs than anyone, with 1.51 times as many groundballs as flyballs. Philadelphia checks in with a groundball/flyball ratio of 1.34-1. Center fielders rarely make plays on ground balls, so this is more background material for your argument. If you assume nine innings per game, and 162 games, which is good enough for a quick estimate, you get the following:

                K       GB      FB
Chicago         1,404   1,787   1,183
Philadelphia    1,060   1,898   1,416

Those aren’t the precise numbers, but it looks like Patterson’s relatively poor Range Factor might be the result of pitching behind a bunch of dominant, vicious, wormkilling pitchers–something Byrd doesn’t have to deal with. Around 200-250 extra fly ball opportunities in the OF, and perhaps 40% of those, or 80-100, for the CF. That could make a difference in RnF of 05-0.6 or so. You’ll note that’s very close to the difference between Patterson and Byrd.

But my best advice for the argument is this: don’t have it. Trying to convince people to change their minds on matters of the heart (which much of baseball is) takes more energy than it’s worth. Concentrate on telling people this who haven’t yet made up their mind. You’ll either get put away as a nutcase, or be given a big book deal. Either way, you’ll have a lot in common with a Collins sister.

Which umpires are pitchers’ umpires?

— M. D.

All right! All right! We get the message! We know our front page design isn’t set up to hold all the content! We’re working on the redesign! Any day now! Seriously! When I get multiple questions every day that can be answered by just looking at another page on the site, I get the message. You can actually compare umpires’ vital stats by checking the Umpire Report right here at There are literally dozens of excellent reports at our Statistics page, and they’re an underutilized resource here on the site. Clay, Michael, and Keith produce a wide variety of reports, and starting with the 2004 season, there’ll be a number of new reports you’ll want to check out.

And yes, we’re working on the redesign. We’ll make it easier to find things. Honest.

Next week, Peter Gammons is hosting Hot Stove, Cool Music in Boston. All proceeds from this benefit concert support The Jimmy Fund, which raises funds to support cancer treatment and research. Baseball Prospectus has pledged 50% of all proceeds from new subscriptions during the next week as a donation to The Jimmy Fund, so if you were thinking about subscribing, this is the time to do it. More importantly, if you’d like to support the Jimmy Fund with a donation, simply click here. Yeah, people are hitting you up for money all the time, and we all get tired of it, but The Jimmy Fund is worth both your money and time. Cancer is an indiscriminate killer, and it’s likely to affect either you or someone you love. Pre-emptively strike with a donation. Maybe an hour’s salary.

It’s cold over much of the country, but Spring Training is not far off, and beginnings of all types are actually pretty cool, when you think about it. New Year’s Resolutions don’t, on a percentage basis, pay off, but occasionally, they stick, and if you make one to be generous in some way to someone in your life, you’ll be happier, and so will they. I It sounds corny, but it’s true. Think about it: do you ever really feel better–and deservedly so–than when you’re helping out someone else? So, at the very least, show some pity to a Devil Ray fan this year. I only know of one–Tony Constantino–so you’ll have to find your own.

Welcome to 2004. Oakland vs. Philadelphia, Oakland in six. Write it down, corner me if I’m wrong, and I’ll buy.

Thank you for reading

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