We are exploring this. We have questions. We’ll probably write a lot more on this.
I’m starting to think about this on January 15, pretty far into major league baseball’s free agent affair. Jake Arrieta, the big bearded yogi, perfecting Pilates in his spare time, a diet of kale he gives himself and diet of swing and miss he gives his opponents, a righty with a crossfire delivery as dangerous as the Ghostbusters crossing the streams against Zuul the Gatekeeper, a 2015 that was biblically beautiful and disastrous to all who stepped 60 feet 6 inches from the Texas native, is still available for your team to sign. If your team is the Brewers, an NL Central underdog who could use the arm, you might be all aflutter at this news. Your team had a 5-game lead in the division at the All-Star break, and is sitting on 7 top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Beat that, man! After Jake the Snake got settled in his easy-chair post summer-break in 2017, he just casually threw 67 innings of 2.28 ERA ball with a .215 average against and a 1.03 WHIP. His hamstring was grabbing hard on him and he walked a few more than a crossing guard, but all those failures are a testament to how nasty his baseballs are once they leave his hand. As nasty as a Salisbury steak under a heat lamp at your local all-you-can-eat. If your team is the Brewers, you should want them to sign Jake Arrieta so you can hold that 5-game lead. He’ll make that difference whether you think he’s a top gun or not.
Also, the Angels seem like they are making a statement and they could really use Jake Arrieta. Where the Angels play is a top 10 locale for pitchers to relax. It’s damn Boca Raton and Jake is your grandpa playing Bocce Ball. I’d say, and by god I’m not Buck O’Neil, that Arrieta would like to be there, and that Mike Scioscia would like to have him, and that Mike Trout would like him there too because Jake’s track record is a beacon of hope for Anaheim, and the scouting says so. All of baseball would like this too, because fans have lacked the benefit of seeing Mike Trout up to bat in the playoffs with the game hanging in the balance of his formidable baseball bat. Give it to us! The Angels are at 171M on the payroll, you got ‘till 197M to get to the luxury tax penalties and only 3 years of Trout left. He’s the best player in the game, he’ll be a top 5 when he retires, please don’t waste him guys.
Could be collusion, but then again, Jake Arrieta is a risk because he likes to walk crap tons of batters and that causes him to peter out in the 5th sometimes. So, yeah, if the guy’s wanting $25M plus AAV, you got some thinking to do. But, never forget Jake’s second half of 2017 and his postseason performance in 2017. There’s no reason to believe that he can’t give you what you want. Jake Arrieta has had recent success and doesn’t have playoff question marks like Yu Darvish. Arrieta is a proven postseason performer. He’s no David Price, Clayton Kershaw, or Darvish. Wouldn’t it seem that a team with wild card hopes would want a guy who has dominated on the big stage, including a wild card win? Plus, he’s so damn cocky that he won’t sit pretty and get comfortable on his big payday.
JD Martinez hit home runs at a rate greater than Giancarlo Stanton in 2017. In 2017, Giancarlo Stanton was Neil Armstrong, sending baseballs to outer space at a rate that should put him in the NASA Hall of Fame. JD hit home runs at a greater pace. Giancarlo gets more attention though. He’s a great looking guy, Adonis with a baseball bat. Just look at his six-pack on Instagram! A destructively beautiful swing and a batting stance that nearly puts his back to the pitcher. Enigmatic, hidden, ready to uncoil and surge at the first sign of a baseball’s vulnerability. It’s simply beautiful. JD is more of a blue collar working man. He doesn’t flaunt his abdominals on Instagram and doesn’t wear fancy suits on South Beach. I actually don’t know if I’ve ever heard him talk, and I haven’t seen him with his shirt off.
JD’s numbers have always seesawed between .300 hitting and pounding home runs. In past seasons, he’ll boost his batting average and hit less home runs, then hit more home runs at the cost of batting average. 2017 for JD was a pinnacle year for the slugger, as he finally balanced his game and produced an all-around bat: .303 with 45 home runs, a 1.066 OPS and a 168 OPS+. The facts are on the table Boston. Why haven’t you signed him? In my eyes, you cannot afford to let him sign elsewhere. You need him to win and you need him now. You need him literally like a human being needs oxygen. Boston cannot compete with New York and they won’t be able to for years to come. Why is JD still out of work? Why he is not in Boston attending Celtics games with his face on the jumbotron while fans cheer in excitement at him clearing The Green Monster this summer, looking at neighborhoods to live in around one of baseball’s great cathedrals? Boston needs him, can sign him right now, but they haven’t.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports did some looking in his very alarming piece on baseball’s economic system. Read it, it’s way better than what you have just read by me. In the article, Mr. Passan noted that one union official said, “There’s less interest in winning than I’ve ever witnessed before.” Hinting that teams could be using the “rebuild” mantra as a clandestine business model for increased profits. This rings eerily close to Peter Ueberroth’s outlook on owner spending:
“Let’s say I sat each of you down in front of a red button and a black button,” he said at one early meeting. “Push the red button and you’d win the World Series but lose $10 million. Push the black button and you would make $4 million and finish somewhere in the middle.” He paused to look around. “The problem is, most of you would push the red one.” Ueberroth chided them for checking their business sense at the door. “You are so damned dumb.”
No wonder that Dan Le Batard is so angry at Rob Manfred and the Miami Marlins. He has good reason for feeling that the Marlins are using the city of Miami and their tax dollars to fill their pockets, only to leave once they’ve squeezed all they can out of Miami-Dade County. Leaving a wake of disaster as they use the greatest game on earth to fill shareholder pockets.
Are teams selling off their player assets, while pointing at the last two World Series Champions, in the name of winning or profits?
Major League Baseball’s profits are just like when you put Pop Tarts in the microwave and leave them in the wrapper. If you’ve never done that, do it, it’s funny. The Pop Tarts explode and catch fire. In 2016, MLB recorded record profits of 981 million. This article tells of a 650% increase, but players are not getting anywhere near that rate of increase on their paycheck. This same article I found on FanGraphs tells us that players were getting 56% of total league revenue in their paychecks back in 2002. More recent numbers point to a more stingy league; less than 39% of league revenue for player pay as of numbers recorded in 2015. These numbers, along with the dead free agent market, is alarming. I take this as a profit first, win second mentality. MLB and their teams are cashing in on television deals, revenue sharing, and record profits across the board. The profits, though, aren’t going back into the team. They are going into yachts and stuff, I guess, for the rich guys that own the thing.
These are teams that real life humans are rooting for in 2018, spending their money, time, living nostalgically through these teams, holding on close to family tradition, watching with dads & moms, grandfathers and grandmothers, teaching their own kids the game of baseball, knowing and believing their team may only be one piece away from going a little bit further this year. Waiting patiently, watching MLB Network, prepping for the season with their MLB Extra Innings package, ordering tickets online, StubHub, they’re expensive there, but fans love their teams and they are ready for every game, a possible pennant, only to be let down by a business that has replaced the game they love.
We hope this is never the case.