Attendance is down across baseball this year. On average it’s down on the order of a few hundred a game. In Los Angeles, however, things are way worse: 7,268 fans a game off the 2010 pace for the Dodgers. And, as Steve Dilbeck reminds us, that’s just in official attendance, not actual turnstile numbers, which Major League Baseball doesn’t report. Dodger Stadium has looked way emptier than the numbers suggest.
Dillbeck suspects, based on comments to his blog, that there’s a fan boycott afoot related to the McCourt fiasco. I’m somewhat skeptical simply because fan boycotts rarely if ever gain real traction, even if organized and endorsed by influential media voices (ask the talk radio people who tried to organize them with respect to the Mets and the Detroit Lions in recent years). Yes, I’m sure there are some people avoiding games in Los Angeles because of their McCourt distaste, but I bet the pall cast Bryan Stow beating, the unexciting hot stove season for the Dodgers and the middling-at-best prospects for the playoffs this year have more to do with it.
But whether there truly is a boycott or not, I totally whiffed on a grandstanding opportunity. After I wrote something about the McCourts last winter, one of my best friends sent me an email in which he — half-jokingly, but not really — suggested that I try to organize an anti-McCourt Dodgers’ boycott. I think he had the best interests of my media profile in greater mind than the fate of the Dodgers, but man, if I had listened to him and done a half dozen posts arguing for such a boycott and maybe printing up t-shirts and stuff I could totally be claiming credit for the plunge in Dodgers attendance so far this year. And now I could be issuing demands and getting phat talking head gigs on TV.
Sigh. Lost opportunities.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.