Red Sox land outfielder Hermida in deal with Marlins

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hermida.jpgThe Red Sox acquired disappointing outfielder Jeremy Hermida in a three-player deal with the Marlins on Thursday, surrendering left-handers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez in the bargain.
Hermida was hardly an obvious fit for the Red Sox, given his left-handedness and the presence of J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury ahead of him in the outfield. Still, GM Theo Epstein’s philosophy is to keep bringing in talent and to worry about making it work later. Hermida hit a modest .259/.348/.392 in his age-25 season, and it was clear that the Marlins were done with him. The Red Sox, though, saw a former elite prospect with very good plate discipline who is only now reaching his prime years and snapped him up.
At the moment, Hermida tops Boston’s depth chart in left field, in the event that Jason Bay leaves as a free agent. He’ll most likely enter the year as a part-timer, and we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him being traded elsewhere later.
The price was modest. Jones, 25, is a fringe reliever who gave up 13 runs in 12 2/3 innings in the majors this season. He has impressed enough against lefties in the minors to give some reason for optimism that he’ll be useful in a limited role. Alvarez is just 20, and he managed a 1.52 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League last season. However, that was after he failed as a starter in the Sally League in 2008. Neither lefty ranked among Boston’s 10-best pitching prospects.

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.