Baseball

Word broke a few weeks ago that longtime Royals owner David Glass would be selling the team to an ownership group lead by Kansas City businessman (and Cleveland Indians vice chairman) John Sherman. What was particularly staggering about this news was the fact that Glass would be selling the team for a tidy $900 million dollar profit. Glass originally bought the team just before the start of the 2000 season for $96 million dollars. The sale (if finalized and approved by MLB ownership) would be for over a billion dollars. That number in and of itself is pretty ginormous, but when you factor in how the Royals consistently pleaded poor during most off-season free agent periods it becomes even more obnoxious. A brief glance at where the Royals fall in reference to the rest of the league in payroll since Glass took over the team in 2000 shows that in those 20 years the team has averaged 21.5th in the league in payroll. They’ve never been higher than 15th in the league, and in the bottom 1/3rd 15 out of the 20 years. Yet in that time, the biggest contract they’ve handed out was to Alex Gordon this year, a whopping 20 million dollars. In comparison, the Red Sox are paying one of the Royals former players (David Price) 31 million. The now suddenly financially conscious New York Yankees still have 4 players on their team making more than Gordon, and the usually spendthrift Cardinals have two (and Dexter Fowler making 17 million).

All of this adds up to yet another MLB owner who has purchased a team not because he loves the game of baseball, but because it’s a profitable investment for him. Glass has made plenty of money in his career as a CEO of Walmart way before he bought the Royals for a song. Now he’s flipping the team like a shitty house in Skokie because he’s made 10X the profit on a less than $100 million dollar investment. You don’t have to look very far to see how actual Royals fans (and there are only about 34 of them left) feel about the deal. BeyondTheBoxScore did a pretty in-depth review of what Glass actually provided the team in his almost 20 years of ownership. Other than a one time luck out of a World Series win, it’s not a whole lot. In fact, Glass’ ownership of the team (other than the WS win) is a pretty impressive display of how an owner can come in and treat an MLB team like an asset, then flip it like Two Face’s coin in Batman and sell it to someone that gives a shit about the sport.

Patrick Brennan said it best as a guest writer for Beyond The Box Score in the article about the sale of the team:

“As a Royals fan, I took this news as nothing short of fantastic. I can’t sit here and tell you all the things I know about John Sherman, because I know very little. If he ends up buying the Royals, I don’t know how much he’ll spend, I don’t know what changes he’ll make, and I don’t know how he’ll run the organization. But he’s succeeding an owner that a) was very scarcely involved with the Royals and Kansas City, b) slashed payroll constantly, c) spent very little, even though he’s likely to turn a $96 million investment into over a billion dollars, and d) ran a terrible organization for 95 percent of his tenure.”

Here’s where it becomes more important to Sox fans. Does that sound like anyone you know? Does that blueprint seem pretty familiar to you? Granted, I’d never trade 2005 for any pile of magic beans, but it’s a pretty common refrain throughout the league. You have your top 10 teams who spend the money that’s required to make you team competitive, then you have the bottom 2/3 of the league that is more concerned about wringing as much value out of underpaid young talent as you possibly can before you let them hit the bricks in free agency.

Basically the entire AL Central falls into this category. When was the last time you saw any of the 5 teams in this division spend big money on a free agent? The Tigers and Miguel Cabrera are the only ones that come to mind. Even the Sox with Jose Abreu didn’t break the bank, as they spent 68 million on the man as the most highly paid player in team history. Other than Cabrera and maybe Alex Gordon the AL Central isn’t exactly breaking the bank. Yet we are expected to sit here and listen to the owners cry poor after getting loads of money off the newest TV deal. Combine that with the 900X investment David Glass made off his purchase of the Royals and I start rooting more and more for the inevitable lockout 18 months from now. Do I think this is important? Absolutely, as the White Sox enter the most critical phase of their rebuild after shitting the bed on potential game changing free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Now the rumor mill churns about JD Martinez opting out of the deal he has in Boston. As much as I’d like to see the Sox sign him to a deal and piss off both the Boston AND Detroit fanbases (The legendary Double Play), I find it super hard to believe that Sox ownership cares about anything more about the bottom line of the organization’s value on the open market.

 

But hey, at least the Rick Hahn brought up Dylan Covey to entertain us for the rest of the season…

 

ITS SUCH GOOD SHIT.

 

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 48-61   Tigers 32-75

GAMETIMES: Monday 6:10, Tuesday 12:20 and 6:10, Wednesday 12:10

TV: NBCSN Monday and both Tuesday, WGN Wednesday

THAT NERD LOOKS LIKE JAM: Bless You Boys

PREVIEW POSTS

Depth Charts and Pitching Staffs

Matthew Boyd Spotlight

There is something a little cruel about the Sox and Tigers matching up in the dead of August, and there’s something outright sadistic about making them play a doubleheader on Tuesday. Then again, there’s something poetic about it as well. How can you not get romantic about baseball?

Well, you could watch the Tigers regularly, for one. This is a team that’s going to have an end to the season written by Dante. They traded the one hitter they had to the Cubs in Nicholas Castellanos, and there is nothing left behind here. Miguel Cabrera has lost most of his power and he needs a Rascal to get to first base, which he doesn’t do as often as you’d think. There isn’t any hitter here that has even an average wRC+ other than Brandon Dixon, who has been relegate to backup duty.

What the Tigers have to be selling is that there are some kids up, but even that’s a stretch. Travis Demeritte was part of the return for Shane Green, but he has only 90 good games at AAA after two barely “meh” years at AA. Victory Reyes barely did anything at the AAA level either, but he’s here in left. Jake Rogers has taken over the catching duties, and he tore AA apart for 30 games, but was middling at Triple-A as well before getting the call. To say there are going to be some bumps would be the height of politeness.

The one thing the Tigers can do is throw some starters at you, as the Sox will see both Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull this series, the latter coming off the IL today. They’ll miss out on the ace, Matthew Boyd though. Those three have been serviceable to great, and even that hasn’t kept the Tigers from being the worst team in baseball. Wait until they start conserving these guys’ innings. However, again, in the rotation only Tyler Alexander is 25 or below, and it’s worthy to ask if any of these guys will ever pitch a game that matters at Comerica.

As you might expect with a team this bad, the bullpen is full of kids who pee in the sandbox at recess, and even more so now that it’s been shorn of Green. Whatever work the starters do is likely to be undone when they hand the ball off, not that it will matter that much because it’s likely the offense will have only provided a run or two at most. The last two months here are just going to be hilarious, as long as you’re not a Tigers fan.

For the Sox, they’ll trot out Hector Santiago to fill in for the doubleheader on Tuesday, while Giolito, Cease, and Nova get the softest landing possible. The pen could probably use a reset after whatever that was in Philadelphia.

This one’s for the diehards only. You know who you are.

Baseball

When teams are trying to come up with any other reason for draining the free agent market other than collusion or straight-up greed, we suppose they could use Miguel Cabrera’s contract as a cudgel. No one wants to locked into paying a hitter in his late 30s $25M or $30M while they slowly turn purple in the sun. Although it’s working out ok for Joey Votto. Not so much the case for Miggy.

Cabrera will go down as one of the best right-handed hitters of his era, and if it wasn’t for Mike Trout and whatever planet exiled him here, you wouldn’t find anyone better. Since joining the Tigers in 2008, only Trout and Votto have surpassed Miggy in WAR and offensive runs. He was the heartbeat of a string of great Tigers teams that won four AL Centrals in a row (before the Dodgers made that kind of thing de rigueur). Miggy wasn’t ever able to bring home a World Series and fulfill the dream of Mike Illitch (the one other than robbing the poor citizens of Detroit blind), but that wasn’t really on him.

What made Miggy so entertaining in dangerous is he did it all at the plate. He walked, he didn’t strike out, and he was just as likely to cut your heart out with a simple opposite-field single to score two than some bomb into the concourse. There was nowhere to go to get him out consistently, and he was more than happy to continually take whatever was on offer.

So while Miggy’s contract is ugly now, one wonders what the Tigers were supposed to do. Surely sentimentality still has a place in sports somewhere, and Cabrera is the greatest Tiger since…well, ever? Ok, not Ty Cobb. And maybe Trammel and Whitaker have claim to the previous era. Kaline and all that. Still, it won’t be long after he retires that Miggy’s number is going up on the wall at Comerica. At the time of signing, Miggy was the most feared hitter in the game or thereabouts, so maybe his decline was also off in the distance. It was 2013, remember. Could they really have just let him walk away? The cold-hearted calculations say they should have, but that doesn’t work all the time in the real world. It was also hard to see in 2013, when Cabrera signed the extension that didn’t kick in for another three seasons. It was overexuberant for sure, and perhaps a lesson every team might have taken too much to heart.

That said, the Tigers are still on the hook for $30M for four seasons each after this one, and this one is ugly. And that’s after Miggy missed all but 36 games last year, and it’s clear the effects are lingering. Miggy is struggling through knee problems this year after the groin injury last year, and now he can’t play in the field for the rest of the season. Not that Miggy ever really could, but the Tigers will have to bend their lineups around him once again. Good thing for the Tigers it doesn’t really matter.

As it does with most older players in an ever-speeding world, Cabrera can’t deal with velocity as well. Cheating for it has left him swinging at pitches out of the zone far more than he ever has in his career, and that’s led to some pretty horrific numbers on curveballs. Miggy still hits the ball hard (40% hard-contact rate), and he was above 40% well before just about everyone was. Miggy is walking less than ever, striking out more than ever, and hitting for less power than ever.

The Tigers are in just at the start of a rebuild, so he’s not costing them wins they might need. And maybe he sells a few tickets to fans who know it’s going to be a couple years at least before games in downtown Detroit matter again. But if it’s two years, what do you do then? With his physical condition, it’s highly unlikely that Cabrera can reclaim his former glory again.

Perhaps an injury settlement. Perhaps an unspoken agreement if Miggy retires that he’ll still get the money. The money’s gone, the only hope is there isn’t some standoff between player and team if he wants to keep playing but the Tigers want to move on. No one’s going to take that contract, no matter how much of it the Tigers are willing to eat. And that’s if Miggy ever hits again, which hie might not.

Perhaps if they got that World Series, it would be less unpleasant. Maybe it won’t be unpleasant at all, given what Cabrera meant to the Tigers. Before Miggy, the Tigers hadn’t won a division since 1987 (though they did go to a World Series as a wildcard, the only year in that stretch they’d won over 90 games).

No one ever gets the ending they want.

Baseball

vs.

RECORDS: White Sox 7-10   Tigers 8-9

GAMETIMES: Thursday 12:10, Friday 6:10, Saturday and Sunday 12:10

TV: WGN Thursday and Sunday, NBCSN Friday and Saturday

SPARKY’S SPAWN: Bless You Boys

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Ivan Nova vs. Tyson Ross

Carlos Rodon vs. Jordan Zimmerman

Ervin Santana vs. Daniel Norris

Reynaldo Lopez vs. TBD

PROBABLE SOX LINEUP

Leury Garcia – CF

Yoan Moncada – 3B

Jose Abreu – 1B

Yonder Alonso – DH

Eloy Jimenez – LF

Tim Anderson – SS

Welington Castillo – C

Yolmer Sanchez – 2B

Ryan Cordell – RF

PROBABLE TIGERS LINEUP

Josh Harrison – 2B

Nick Castellanos – RF

Miguel Cabrera – DH

Niko Goodrum – 1B

Jeimer Candelario – 3B

Dustin Peterson – LF

Gordon Beckham – SS

Grayson Greiner – C

Jacoby Jones – CF

 

The Sox are seeing the two other sides to the rebuilding troika of the AL Central this week. After taking two of three from the Royals at home, the Sox will head to Detroit for the first time on the season. The Tigers are supposed to be a year or two or three behind the Sox in their recycle, yet are a game ahead of them in the current standings. But nothing other than the Marlins being an affront to nature is working out as it was supposed to yet.

The Tigers though are at least speeding to where they’re supposed to be. They’ve lost four in a row and five of the last six, after getting off to a hotter start than anyone would have guessed. And the offense would seem to be the big culprit. They’re last in all of MLB with their 45 runs scored, or just over two per game. There are only three semi-regulars producing at even above average at the moment, and one of them is Gordon Beckham and his hair that can never die. Niko Goodrum is taking advantage of his first everyday role, and a pretty high walk-rate of 15%. But other than that, there’s nothing here. Even Ervin Santana might find safe-haven here working through this lineup. Miggy Cabrera just might make you cry…well, Sox fans will probably really enjoy the decrepit version of one of their greatest tormentors. Josh Harrison literally has a wRC+ of 0. He technically doesn’t exist. The Tigers would be just as good sending no one to the plate as they are sending Harrison right now. It would be equal. He’s already been worth -0.5 WAR. In 17 games. That’s….that’s just amazing.

The rotation has held it together for now, but is taking some serious hits. Matt Moore was lost for the season a few days ago with knee-knack, and Michael Fulmer never made the bell. Jordan Zimmerman takes up space as he kind of always has the past five years, and Tyson Ross is also here in his role of “Official Seat-Filler For Subpar Teams’ Rotations.” The Sox will miss either or both of Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull, who have done most of the good work so far, though one could go Sunday. Daniel Norris, who is somehow only 25, will slide back into the rotation after coming out of the pen for the start of the year. If you can’t tell Norris, Ross, and Zimmerman apart, no one will blame you. If you can…well, you may want to think about some changes in your life.

The Tigers are carrying the third best bullpen ERA in the AL, even though they have the 10-lowest strikeout-rate and middling walk numbers. You can go up to get a beer when Daniel Stumpf comes in, as not much will happen. He’s striking out nearly 15 hitters per nine innings, but he’s also walking nearly five. The fielders can all work on their arm-balances when he comes jogging in.

As for the Sox, they’ll begin their post-Daniel Palka era in right field, which we know you’re excited for. Palka was punted back to Charlotte after his only good game, which seemed a tad cruel but entirely justified. Ryan Cordell will be the first to start out there, and 27-year-0lds coming up from the minors are definitely always worth paying attention to. Carson Fulmer is also up to replace Lucas Giolito on the roster.

Grey weekend in Detroit. Just seems right.