The Phillies ink a huge new TV deal

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UPDATE: Multiple outlets are reporting that the Phillies TV deal is $2.5 billion over 20 years. Or $100 million a year.  That’s a nice bit of scratch.

8:29 AM: The Phillies may not know exactly how to rebuild for the future, but they won’t be lacking for money to do it. The Phillies and Comcast/NBC Universal have agreed to a massive new broadcast deal. Here’s the statement from Comcast SportsNet (Comcast owns NBC Universal and, by extension, this blog):

“We’re pleased to confirm that NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet have signed a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will expand Comcast SportsNet’s role as the Phillies’ primary TV partner. Although the terms of the comprehensive deal are confidential, details surrounding the 2014 schedule of games will be provided in the coming months.”

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the deal is for at least 20 years. Given the price other teams’ TV rights have gone for, it’s not a stretch to guess that the deal would be in the billions.

The current TV deal was set to expire following the 2015 season.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉