As the owners and players jockeyed toward another mid-season labor showdown, the owner of one of MLB’s least efficient teams sought to set the record straight. Bud Selig announced: “The fact is, there are staggering cash operating losses in major league baseball today. …The enormous cost increase in player salaries is, by far, the biggest reason baseball has dire economic problems. Any charge other than that is clearly and totally unsubstantiated by the economic facts as they exist today.” MLB figures released after the season put the total of those “staggering cash operating losses” at less than 1% of revenue. In fact, player salaries had doubled since 1981. So had MLB’s revenue, as cable TV became an increasingly important source of income. Owners who reinvested their rights fees in payroll helped create a $300,000 gap between the major league minimum and the average salary. As the Braves and Pirates demonstrated, badly-run franchises could now waste more money than ever before.
Reports from Arizona have Luis Gonzalez making adjustments to compensate for his damaged elbow. The half-torn ligament is so problematic while throwing that Gonzalez is breaking out a sidearm throwing style for getting the ball back to the infield. Research from ASMI shows that throwing sidearm doesn’t significantly alter the forces placed on the arm. Gonzalez, we’ll note, says he’s having no problems at bat, just throwing. In addition to the sidearming, watch to see how Alex Cintron adjusts to help Gonzalez. Great quote today in the SF Chronicle: “Jason Schmidt threw in the bullpen for 14 minutes before Friday night’s game. His right shoulder remained attached to the rest of his body and he apparently did not shout in pain.” Jason Schmidt looked good in a workout, throwing all his pitches and coming away with only normal soreness. Schmidt is expected to slot back into the Giants rotation on the 14th. That slot is the first one where they’ll need a fifth starter. Schmidt wasn’t throwing at full tilt, but it’s exactly what the Giants were hoping for from this session.
The Braves’ bench looks ugly. The Dodgers make some nifty deals. The Mets inexplicably hand starting jobs to Tyler Yates and Scott Erickson. The Rangers unload Einar Diaz on the Expos. These and other happenings in today’s Transaction Analysis.
For the following survey, 13 members of the Baseball Prospectus staff submitted their predictions in time for publication, covering–among other things–divisional standings and end-of-season awards.
The White Sox may try and make a Juan Pierre out of Willie Harris. The Cardinals hope to shake off a rough Opening Day performance. The Rangers’ early schedule won’t do them any favors. These and other news and notes in today’s Prospectus Triple Play.