About a month ago around the time of the Baseball Winter Meeting, there were reports that the Colorado Rockies might listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado. At the time I thought those reports were very strange because:
- Arenado was only 1 year into a contract worth $260M over 8 years
- That contract has a full no-trade clause in it
- Arenado is (in my opinion) the best third baseman in baseball.
This morning there is a report at CBSSports.com that sheds light on this situation; that report says that Nolan Arenado wants out, that he feels disrespected, that he believes the team has not and will not live up to promises made to him during the negotiations leading up to his mega-deal and that the relationship between Arenado and Rockies’ GM, Jeff Bridich, is severely strained. You can read the details of that report here:
During this hot stove season, there was significant interest in Anthony Rendon (signed with the Angels) and Josh Donaldson (signed with the Twins) as quality third basemen. Granted, the only expense involved in signing those guys was a ton of money; acquiring Arenado would involve trading away player assets in addition to taking on the balance of his existing contract (worth $234M). Nonetheless, I would think that any team who “lost out” on either Rendon or Donaldson would be making a call to the Rockies about now just to see if any sort of deal could be made.
Sticking with baseball, the KC Royals have played their home games in Kauffman Stadium since 1973. Their lease extends through 2030, but the team has begun exploring the possibility of a new venue when the lease is over. [Aside: I had the opportunity to see several games in Kauffman Stadium in the ‘80s and I have always thought it was a great place to see a ballgame.] It does not appear as if this is a move by the Royals to threaten a move from KC to somewhere else where a new playpen would materialize; Royals’ owner John Sherman has begun talks with the folks in KC about the possibility of a downtown stadium to replace the “suburban” Kauffman Stadium.
One asset “The K” – as Kauffman Stadium is known locally – has is that it is right off the interstate, so access is relatively convenient. Also, it is adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium so there are more than ample parking assets available. The trend over the last 30 years or so has been to bring baseball into downtown areas; that trend started with Orioles Park in Baltimore. The Royals have a new owner; John Sherman bought the team for a cool $1B in November 2019. Surely, one of Sherman’s objectives must be to increase Royals’ attendance. Here are some data:
- 2019 – Royals were 27th in MLB in total attendance 18,267 per game
- 2018 – Royals were 23rd in MLB in total attendance 20,557 per game
- 2017 – Royals were 17th in MLB in total attendance 31,577 per game
It does not take a mathematical or a marketing genius to understand that trend is going in the ‘wrong direction”. New stadiums usually provide an attendance boost and putting the venue in a downtown area means the games are closer to more people than they are “right off the interstate”. There is plenty of time for these negotiations to happen and Sherman is a “local guy” with ties to the city. “The K” is a really good stadium – it had an upgrade or two along the way – but perhaps its time will run out around 2031.
Let me get back to the MLB sign-stealing business for a moment. There are rumblings that as many as 8 teams have been engaged in technology based sign stealing; obviously, there is no evidence to support that assertion as of now, but let me pretend that is true and see where it might lead in terms of logical thinking:
- We should be able to rule out the Orioles as one of the teams doing the sign stealing. Over the last 3 seasons the Orioles’ record has been 176-310 ; win percentage of .360. Over those same 3 seasons, the team OBP has never exceeded .312. If those are the results for a team that knew what pitch was coming, it is frightening to think what might have happened to a team that was always in the dark.
- Suppose that there is a significant drop in the number of home runs in MLB this year – reversing a strong upward movement over the past several years. Might one of the interpretations be that more than a few teams curtailed their sign stealing thereby reducing the advantage to their hitters? Or will everyone just conclude that baseball “reduced the juice” they have theoretically been injecting into the balls over the past several seasons?
- If I were a team exec, I would be tempted to put a totally meaningless flashing light on the scoreboard in my home stadium. It would mean nothing and every player on my team would be told that it meant nothing – – except it would be there to mess with the minds of the players and managers who come to visit. The “great sin” here is the stealing of the signs that gives one team an advantage; is there a “sin” involved in making the opponent think you are stealing his signs even when you are not?
Finally, given that the Mets parted company with Carlos Beltran before he ever managed a game for them, that means the Beltran and I are now tied with each other for wins as a major league manager. We both have zero.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…….