Folks are going to complain about the World Series ratings as soon as they start trickling in. They’re really going to complain when the Rams-Cowboys game on Sunday doubles the ratings of the Cardinals-Rangers game just around the corner later that evening. We know that by now.
But as Variety’s (and Dodgers Thoughts’) Jon Weisman reports, Fox is quite pleased, thank you very much, with the state of the ratings and their investment.
Ads sold out earlier than ever, Fox Sports’ vice-chairman Ed Goren said. And the ratings, while certainly not what they used to be, aren’t bad when you compare baseball to itself and other programming in this increasingly fragmented media landscape as opposed to simply comparing it to the ratings behemoth that is the NFL:
“First off, the World Series last year, we won primetime for the week. Even last year’s World Series … in 1971, there was a Pirates-Orioles World Series, and it was the eighth highest-rated show of the year. Last year’s World Series was the eighth-highest rated show of the year also. In this 500-channel universe, the numbers that the World Series pulls in viewership are substantial year after year. Some years are better than others — the more games you get, the better you’ll be — but it is still a major, major ratings attraction.”
Baseball TV rights will be up for bidding again after the 2012 season. I’m guessing Fox, and other outlets, will be involved in the bidding. All of these are companies, it should be noted, that aren’t in the business of burning cash for the hell of it.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.