Thursday thoughts on baseball and the Astros

There is very little activity related to MLB baseball at the moment, so thoughts are all we have.

Gamesmanship

In reading the following article about what the players are saying about MLBs reactions around the “deadline”,.

…..one of the things that strikes me (well, strikes may be a poor choice of a word here) – does MLB really think they can turn the fans against the players, and what difference does that make? Basically, there are fans that are on the player’s side, fans that are on the owner’s side and the contention here is that there is a more significant percentage of fans that are on neither side or vehemently against both sides.

Does either side think that getting the fans to favor one side or the other is going to “pressure” the other side to cave? It is much more likely that they would cave to economic pressure. And since the union supposedly has stockpiled a significant war chest and the owners (mostly) are folks with other non-baseball cash flows, that may not occur any time soon.

Missing Must See

That is the thing I think I miss the most. Thinking back to the dark days of the team, the 100-loss seasons and the TV rights licensing problems there was a lot of “Can’t See” TV tied to “Don’t Want To See” TV with the Astros. But since the 2015 Renaissance, there has been a ton of “Must See” with the Astros. Whether it was watching Dallas Keuchel and his Cy Young out of the blue, or Jose Altuve on his MVP run, George Springer leadoff dingers, Carlos Correa laser relays, Alex Bregman cranking 41 homers, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole mowing teams down back-to-back or watching the two youngsters Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez blooming as stars before our eyes, it was all must-see for me.

The Astros have been one of the best, most decorated teams over the last seven seasons. It has been a blast as a fan to tune in to or DVR these must-see moments. It is like a hole in the heart to be missing these moments.

Career Quests Derailed?

One of the comments from friend of the blog uncleknuckle (daveb) was that Jose Altuve at 1777 hits is not a shoo-in to get to 3000 hits. If he falls short, he may be able to point to the loss of games to the pandemic in 2020 and the potential loss of games due to lockout in 2022 as two significant issues that stole games from him.

This is affecting all players, but especially those who are aiming for certain career stat goals. Maybe it is not a big thing, but could be significant to the individual.

Anyone else thinking today?

 

25 comments on “Thursday thoughts on baseball and the Astros

    • The only way I can watch the games here is through FUBO TV. I called yesterday and continued to pause my account until July 1st. I think I am being conservative to think there will be 1/2 a season.

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    • No they are saying they haven’t met face to face since a couple days ago when they said they would have to cancel games once passed the MLB imposed “Deadline”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The owners seem to be legitimately concerned that they are already capping resources, most franchises work break even, and some even operate with a loss. Billionaires operating with a loss seems to be something a fan expects them to accept, but I am sure the Billionaires didn’t get into this as a hobby.

    I think the players are fairly asking the newer players to be “taken care” of better. They are wanting faster routes to the bigger checks. It seems they are more concerned with service manipulation, expanding super 2, raising minimum salaries. A whole bunch of multi-millionaires expecting baseball to basically double the expense of younger players on teams without accepting that maybe 35 million a year to play SS is a bit much or introducing some new revenue model. Correa likely will make more money with his new team (which could be his old team?) than the owner will make as a profit next year.

    I’m just a simpleton fan wanting baseball back on my TV but I do feel as if the whole model needs to be turned upside down. It’s hard to sympathize with people who made 575k last year, but I also see where George Springer was coming from. The Astros intentionally kept him down to manipulate his time and got what they wanted, another full season from Springer under team control in his prime. They probably cost him personally 20 million dollars easy.

    What a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really not on either side, but relative to owners losing money – open up the books and show me (well actually show someone with a CPA background – it would be useless on me).
      The other item here is that if I owned a business, where when I sell it, I get back 2-3-10 times what I paid for it, I don’t really get too crazy if on paper I broke even in a particular year.
      I would have more sympathy for the players, if I thought they really were concerned with the pre-arb and the young guys for any other reason than to lift everybody’s salary (even the Coles and Correas) even more.
      In the end there is a lot of money involved, there is already a lot of money split, and both sides want to “win” this negotiation. The only thing I can guarantee is the fans will love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Get where you are coming from. Loria made 1.2 billion from the Marlins. The Marlins! He paid 158 million for them in 2002. That’s how much money is in baseball now.

        Books are secrets. The best I can respond with is how I listened to Steve Phillips describe the situation with the Mets when he gave Vaughn the money. He broke down all the steps he went through with ownership and the team president, how he examined the operating and contract budgets, and how he worked to ensure the team broke even, nothing more or less. He sounded pretty sincere in how a major league franchise works on the break even mentality.

        It also takes me back to the scene in moneyball where Beane is sitting in the owners office and he asks Billy not to spend money he doesn’t have. I love that conversation, I rewatch it all the time. Obviously Stephen Schott had the money, but he was really saying don’t ask me to operate this one business at a loss (and at the expense of my other businesses).

        Really don’t mean to sound like an owner apologist, I’ve been on the Astros about Springers server manipulation before, and the system is setup for them rascal it out of players. I expect the players to fight. Tony Clark’s reputation took it on the chin last time, I don’t think if he wants to stay in his position he can do it again. It’s going to be a dogfight. I hope the players win most of their battles. I just don’t see the owners as the “bad guys.”

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  2. And on Altuve – I think its a good chance. Definitely not a lock.

    We are already seeing the slow down. The time his eyes picked up a pitch, communicated to his hands where to put the bat, and the speed he could get in the zone in his prime was rivaled only by all time greats like Gwynn. Unlike Gwynn, he hasn’t maintained it.

    What he has done though has bulked up. He has replaced lost milliseconds in reaction time with a faster bat that gets where he wants it quicker. If he continues to maintain that frame while avoiding injuries that are often caused not only by the wear and tear of the season but of the wear and tear of year round workouts he can get there. Will he hit .346 ever again? Probably not. Can he maintain .280 with the increased power for 8 more years? Possible but it will require being on the field and working his tail off, especially at ages 35+.

    Let’s see how he does the next 2 years, that will be telling at his chances. He needs to get as much of a chunk of it done in years 31-34 as he can. It could end up another Biggio situation where you watch him get overmatched by a lot of pitchers for 3 years but feasting on mediocrity and getting that bat head out enough to use his strength to put some of those “in other parks routine outs” in the crawford boxes.

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  3. Okay – Dan, I guess you made me think.

    While there are many players on the present team – and, of course, past teams – that I like, and for whom I want only the best, my real ties are to the Houston Astros franchise – not t any particular crop of the players. I have just seen too many players thumb their nose at Houston fans and run off after the NY, LA, Chicago, or Toronto lights. It’s hard to take them too seriously. The franchise, however, is always here. Some years are better than others, but a bad year is better than no baseball at all. Players are like fickle lovers, looking for Mr. Goodbar. They come for awhile, then take off after other lovers like a camel in heat. The franchise may not always please us, but it – not some specific player or group of players – is what assures that the game of professional baseball – and the good entertainment and business opportunities that go with it – are available in my hometown.

    We can always find players. Owners who know how to put a good product on the field? Those are few and far between.

    Go ahead, bring the rope.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s also hard to side with the players when they are siding with the big boys when it comes to the CBT. MLB sent the players a proposal starting at 220. The players countered with 238. In the call for MLB before sending the offer they needed 23 of 30 teams to agree to it, and 4 did not. It’s not rocket science about which 4 didn’t.

    The game is in a bad place when the Pirates can’t even consider keeping Gerrit Cole. It’s a better place when teams can keep their stars. What if everyone knew there was zero chance that Patrick Mahomes would be in KC past year 5? What chance do the Marlins have when they are forced to send Stanton to the Yankees? The Rays forced to let David Price leave? The A’s are about to send Olson and Chapman out because they can’t even deal with their arbitration, much less their impending free agency.

    The A’s revenue last year according to Forbes was 104 million. Their operating cost was 144 million. They lost 40 million dollars last year. Yes, Fisher has seen the worth of the organization go up to 1.1 billion from the 180 million he paid for it. It doesn’t mean he has 1.1 billion dollars and can just absorb a 40 million dollar loss. It’s like someone telling you don’t worry about your mortgage being more than you make because the value of your house is great! The man is “worth” 2.1 billion. The A’s make up 1.1 billion of that. The other 1 billion is from assets he owns, not money he has. Is he down at the local soup kitchen for dinner, no. Can he afford 40 million in operating losses from his business every year? Probably not.

    I know its just one guy with a keyboards opinion, and MLB and the MLBPA don’t care what Steve thinks, but baseball would be in a better place if they followed the NFL model – all TV contracts are worked out and collected by the league, equally split, and a revenue sharing model between players and the owners. Have a third party accounting firm adjudicate numbers based on a percentile in a CBA with caps and minimums being worked out year to year. Unlike the NFL it doesn’t solve MLBs attendance problem – TB and Pittsburgh and KC are still gonna average 8-10k fans a game, while the Red Sox sale out everyday, but it at least gets you closer. The Chiefs and Bills are going to sell out every game regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The MLB owners in their dealings with small market teams remind of a homeless person that can barely feed himself getting a ticket for loitering.

      Pete Rozelle did more than anyone to put all that money into the pockets of the NFL owners. Manfred is not helping anyone.

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    • Again I am not on either side here Steven – you make great points about how the lower end teams don’t have that cash (from the increase in the value of their franchise) available, though I imagine they could borrow against it. I mean $1.8 billion increase in your value is the equivalent to 45 years at $40 million a year.

      I think the key here is that there should be better revenue sharing between the teams – at least on the TV revenue. It is not really honest negotiating either side to say you are basing the whole agreement on the extremes. Yeah there are 4 teams out of 30 that are suffering, let’s say. But there are a whole lot of teams that are not suffering. On the other end the players are saying they are just trying to help the lowest paid members while looking for a big boost in the luxury tax numbers, which is really there for the higher paid members to cash in on.

      I’m sick of both bunches of them. They are not being truthful with us, each other or even themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m with you. No one really is on either side.

        I probably (as usual) wasn’t clear in my meaning. There were 4 teams that voted against 220M, the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and Mets. They want the much higher number. The rest of them agreed to the 220M.

        But the system needs to be fixed. To ask the A’s and Rays and Marlins and Pirates and Royals and Brewers and well you get it, to keep borrowing, keep borrowing guys to keep up with the Joneses, year after year, isn’t their answer. I am positive the A’s covered that 40 million last year via that very tool.

        You can’t bury the Yankees or Red Sox either. The A’s haven’t gone up value because of savvy business decisions. The A’s have increased in value because the Yankees and Red Sox and Dodgers and, yes, our beloved Astros, have made baseball what it is, and the Marlins and A’s and Rays are the beneficiaries in valuation. The rising tide lifts all boats things.

        There is no answer to make all sides happy. Someone is going to bite the bullet on this one. My guess, as usual, it will be the A’s and Rays and Pirates and Royals that will continue to draft, farm the talent, play the talent there for their first few years, and lose the talent. John Fisher will eventually, like Steve Schott before him, get tired of the annual losses, sale out, and make a tremendous amount of money on the back end. The next guy will pay some crazy cost, gripe about spending years working at a loss, and sale for an incredible profit. All because of the Yankees, who get to work in both the world of increased valuation AND making a profit over the course of it.

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      • It’s one thing to say you’re trying to help out the pre-arbitration players or those in the last couple years of their careers and finding it hard to get rostered, but if you’re making 20% of the CBT threshold on your own it’s a bit disingenuous. Likewise, it’s reported that in 2022 the National TV money was to pay out ~$60M to each team. According to Spotrac there are 4 teams whose 2022 salary commitments are below that. That’s downright absurd. I can support the idea of playing younger, cheaper players from the perspective that you aren’t going to win so may as well get them the experience and see what they can do, but those teams should either be forced to pay some of those profits to those young players, let all the fans into the stadium for free, or be hit with some other form of punishment. If revenue sharing money is getting pocketed rather than spent it’s not achieving any impact in maintaining competitive balance.

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  5. I just can’t believe what I consider extraneous BS in these negotiations. One is a ghost game which says the top seed in the playoffs gets to start 1-0 in games. WHAT? And the other is the Tax Threshold. That number is only important to about 4-5 teams. None of the others come close to approaching that number each year. That makes as much sense as telling DaveP that when he buys his next car, he has to limit the price to $185,000.

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  6. The negotiations all center on promoting the agenda of the rich and powerful owners of MLB
    Raising the luxury tax levels and lowering the penalties for spending over the limits is fairly obvious to most discerning fans. The rich clubs can more easily go after the best free agents and suffer fewer consequences. Couple that with the elimination of draft choice penalties and you have the perfect storm for the big money teams to overwhelm the lesser money teams when it comes to signing the big free agents.
    But what is hidden is the draft consequences, when you have the poorer teams at the top of the draft paying huge money to sign the top draftees, then you have them spending years developing those players and when they get to the majors, the minimum salaries are going up and now the big market teams can push for them to get the awards, give them big cash bonuses provided by a slush fund that all the owners have to provide and finally, the bigger clubs have more room to take those players from the poorer teams either in free agency(without losing draft choices) or in trades(where they trade prospects that they acquired at the lower end of the draft for one-fifth of the money) and get stars in return that the poorer clubs drafted but can’t afford to keep.
    The whole system being re-formed by a new CBA is being designed to make everything(including more layers in the playoffs) to make the rich teams get much richer and to separate those at the top from those at the bottom and to make the players richer at the expense of the bottom 15 teams in MLB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • An interesting and probably pretty accurate way of looking at things OP.
      Of course major league baseball has never favored the big time teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox over the lower end teams …. wait a second my comment was hacked by a Russian propagandist for a moment…..

      Liked by 2 people

  7. At this point, I would be happy with the current system at the major league level being replaced by ‘Robotic Baseball’. Let each MLB owner field a team of specially-designed, programmed, and equipped ‘baseball-player’ robots – each one designed after the greatest player that franchise ever had at the position the robot will be assigned to play. Let there be human coaches and managers, but no human players. These robots could be purchased or traded at any time, but the fans of the both franchises would have to vote to approve the sale or trade before it would be final.

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    • Imagine starting a Jimmy Wynn programmed robot in centerfield and replacing him defensively in sixth inning with a George Springer programmed robot – the same inning you took out JR Richard and put in Nolan Ryan.

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      • Of course that Joe Dimaggio – Mickey Mantle – Babe Ruth outfield with Lou Gehrig and Yogi Berra and other Yankee robots would be tough to compete with…..

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      • I don’t know – with Richard, Ryan, Clemens, Pettite, Oswald, and 2016-17 vintage Keuchel, we might do alright!

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