Quote of the Day: Farrell on Daisuke, WBC

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Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s chances of pitching again this season after landing on the disabled list with shoulder weakness:

Our every intention will be to get him back this year. Now, I say
that with no end time frame that says on August 1, he’s going to be
back in our rotation. There are going to be objectives that he’s going
to have to meet along the way here both in terms of strength and
conditioning, both from a body standpoint and from a shoulder
standpoint. … I think it’s important to clarify, there are reports
out there that Daisuke is suffering from a sore shoulder. That is far
from the truth.

He does have some deficiencies in strength that goes back to the
preparation for a full season that in this case has not been afforded.
And when you ramp up too quick, you fatigue it, and then trying to come
back, you’re working it to get back in shape and there’s just not ample
time or format to do that. Fortunately with [John] Smoltz coming to us,
we have that time on our side and we’re going to take the time needed
to get Daisuke right to the pitcher he was the past two years.

In other words, don’t expect to see Matsuzaka any time soon. His injury
allows Boston to add John Smoltz to the rotation without having to
trade Brad Penny and the Red Sox’s incredible pitching depth–along
with Smoltz and Penny, they also have Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden
at Triple-A–leaves them with no real incentive to bring Matsuzaka back
before he’s clearly ready.

Interestingly, Farrell went on to blame the World Baseball Classic
for Matsuzaka’s shoulder problems, saying: “I think it’s clear now that
there have been two of these tournaments, that the season performances
of the pitchers who participate in that tournament take a step
backward. It’s not just Daisuke.”

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

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There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

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Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.