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Every Team Has a Chance to Make Money: Red Sox CEO

Monday, 1 Apr 2013 | 11:40 AM ET
Big Business of Baseball
Monday, 1 Apr 2013 | 8:45 AM ET
Larry Lucchino, Boston Red Sox president & CEO, says every business team has the chance to make money.

Revenue-sharing and lucrative local cable television rights in some markets have helped level the playing field in Major League Baseball among the smaller clubs and the big-city franchises, Larry Lucchino, president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox, told CNBC on Opening Day.

The new baseball season is set to kick off on Monday with 12 games, including the matchup of the revamped Red Sox at the home of the injury-laden New York Yankees.

(Read More: Watch Out Yankees and Red Sox, It's a New Era in Baseball)

"I think that every team has a chance to make money, if they run the operation right," Lucchino said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "It's not just the Yankees and the Red Sox living in some special, high-priced neighborhood."

But the new Forbes ranking of the 30 MLB teams puts the Yankees at No. 1, with a current value of $2.3 billion, while the Red Sox came in third, at $1.3 billion. The Los Angeles Dodgers were No. 2, with a value of $1.6 billion.

"More and more clubs have the financial wherewithal" of the bigger clubs, Lucchino added, and the numbers back him up. Forbes estimated the average baseball team is worth $744 million. That's 23 percent more than a year ago and the largest increase since Forbes began tracking baseball finances in 1998.

Jonathan Sloane | E+ | Getty Images

But the Boston boss acknowledged that a lot of teams do not make money, noting that "baseball teams are relatively small businesses," with performance on the field only being part of what can make or break their bottom lines.

"We've got to have a good quality product, marketed right," Lucchino said. "We've got to have the quality venue—the experience has got to be good."

To support his case, Lucchino cited two smaller market teams with differing levels of success. "[Tampa Bay] has had no trouble being in the post-season in recent years." Pittsburgh, by contrast, "has had a lot more trouble over the past 20 years getting into the post-season."

According to the Forbes list, the Tampa Bay Rays are at the bottom of the league, with a current value of $451 million. The value of the Pirates at $479 million is not too far ahead at No. 27.

(Read More: Yankees' A-Rod Makes More Than an Entire Team)

As for the so-called "Moneyball" approach to fielding a team, the Red Sox's Lucchino said he values statistical analysis, but only in combination with traditional scouting and observation.

Made famous by the "Moneyball" book and movie, the idea of modern-day number-crunching in baseball was pioneered by the Oakland A's general manager, Billy Beane, to help his smaller market team compete against the larger payrolls of the bigger clubs. Forbes puts the current value of the A's at No. 28 on its list, with a value of $468 million.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere; Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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