Red Sox ratings are way down this year

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The Red Sox bandwagon has a few empty seats in it this year according to Sports Business Journal:

The Boston Red
Sox’s six-year reign atop MLB’s local television ratings is about to
end, as the team’s local numbers have plummeted from first to fifth this
season.

Entering the All-Star break, ratings for Red Sox games on
NESN have dropped nearly 36 percent from last year, for a 6.25 average
rating.

The last time the Red Sox finished out of the top spot was
in 2003, when the Mariners posted an 11.53 rating on FSN Northwest. The
Sox averaged a 7.86 rating that year on NESN. This year, Red Sox
ratings trail the Cardinals (9.70 on FS Midwest), Twins (7.85 on FS
North), Phillies (7.20 on CSN Philadelphia) and Reds (6.52 on FS Ohio).

Obviously they still reach a ton more households than just about any team, and some of this drop also probably reflects the Celtics and Bruins’ long postseason runs, though at least the Celtics’ success is not new.

It would seem that the most likely explanation here is just a general decline in enthusiasm about the Bosox. Check out this fan quote from the article:

“People expected a
bigger splash in the offseason. There’s a general
feeling that the ownership took a pass on this season, and I think
you’re seeing fans question why they should invest in it.”

If that’s true it speaks of a pretty damn big sense of entitlement on the part of Sox fans, doesn’t it?  They brought in two of the most sought-after free agents in all of baseball in John Lackey and Adrian Beltre and returned the rest of a team that just won 95 games last year.  Has it really gotten to the point that unless a $100 million free agent comes in that fans consider ownership “taking a pass?”

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.