Indians TV ratings surge, Rays ratings plunge and lots of people watch Yankees games

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Sports Business Journal has an analysis of this year’s TV rantings out. The Cardinals are on top in terms of ratings, the Yankees — not surprisingly — lead in total viewers. The Indians have had the biggest rating increase, with an 80 percent jump over viewership last year. The Rays have seen the biggest drop, with a 37 percent falloff.

I get what’s animating the Cardinals, Yankees and Indians’ numbers, but I’m not sure how one can explain the Rays’ drop.  They had healthy TV ratings before so I guess they had more room to drop, but I’m not sure what would inspire the drop. They’re still playing good baseball. Lots of exciting young talent. Were people really just tuning in to look at Carl Crawford’s neck tattoo?

And because you were curious, I’m sure, both the Mets and the Dodgers have suffered precipitous declines in local television rankings. The Mets’ local ratings are down 29 percent from midseason last year; the Dodgers’ ratings are down 27 percent. The Dodgers’ drop makes more sense. The Mets have been pretty solid on the field, so maybe the bad feelings from the business side of thing just linger. I have no idea.

Overall, 16 teams’ ratings have dropped, 13 have increased and one has remained flat. Not sure which one that is, because SBJ doesn’t produce the whole list. I’m going to guess that it was the Seattle Pilots, whose rating have stayed more or less the same since 1969. Remarkable consistency there.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.