Do the Yankees have a “spoiled fan base?”

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Reading a story about how the Yankees HAVE to sign Robinson Cano or else the world ends (there have been a lot of those lately). Come across this passage, in which John Harper talks about the idea of the Yankees rebuilding from the ground-up:

Actually, that might be a tantalizing option, considering that a rather spoiled fan base doesn’t seem all that excited by this team anymore, if the empty seats for playoff games last October were any indication.

The Yankees hosted five playoff games last year. Their average attendance in those games: 48, 217. Game three of the ALDS hit 50,497, which is greater than the park’s listed capacity of 50,287 and is less than 500 butts short of the stadium record. Only one other playoff team had a single game with more than the Yankees average playoff attendance, and that was the Braves, who hosted 52,631 for the NL Wild Card Game (but feel free to go on about how the Braves can’t get their fans to show up for playoff games).

Yes, this is largely a function of stadium capacity. Yankee Stadium’s capacity is listed as 50,287. But it’s not like the team routinely sells out the park, only to have “spoiled fans” refuse to show recently. The average attendance for the regular season since the park opened has ranged between 42,733 in 2012 up to 46,491 in 2010, so more fans showed up for the 2012 playoffs, on average, than usually show up to see the Yankees.

Is this poor for the playoffs? By comparison, sure. The Yankees hosted eight playoff games in their world championship season in 2009 — also their first season in the new ballpark — and averaged 49,994. In 2010 they averaged 50,032 in four home playoff games. In 2011, 50,832 in three games.  The upshot: they drew between 1,700 and 2,600 fewer fans per playoff game in 2012 than they had in the previous three years. That more or less tracks the couple thousand fewer per game they’re getting in the regular season over that time. But they’re still outdrawing everyone else and they do better in the playoffs than they do in the regular season.

Maybe that’s troublesome for some people, but 2,000 fans at the outside is not a lot and can be explained by any number of factors — ticket prices, game times, weather, opponent and the like —  before one can reasonably conclude that they have a “spoiled fan base.”

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.