Jordan Zimmermann isn’t concerned about signing a long-term extension with the Nationals

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann signed a two-year, $24 million deal to avoid arbitration back in January. The right-hander, who has finished each of the past three seasons with an ERA of 3.25 or better, had been discussing a long-term deal with the organization, but the two sides were ultimately too far apart and agreed on the two-year deal to avoid the arbitration-related headaches.

Zimmermann also says that the recent six-year, $105 million extension between the Reds and Homer Bailey isn’t affecting his perception of his own value. Via MLB.com’s Bill Ladson:

“I really didn’t think about [Bailey]. I’m obviously happy for him. It’s well deserving,” Zimmermann said on Friday afternoon. “I’m locked up for two years and happy to be here for two years. What he does has no effect on me.”

[…]

Asked why he recently accepted the two-year extension, Zimmermann said, “The long-term deal wasn’t the right deal. It just didn’t work out. They came to us with a two-year deal. Let’s get this out of the way, so we don’t have to worry about arbitration for the next two years. We can just focus on baseball. We felt it was right, and I think it was fair for both sides, and we got the deal done.”

Zimmermann has quietly been one of baseball’s best pitchers since earning a spot in the Nats’ rotation back in 2011. In fact, among starters with at least 400 innings pitched since the start of 2011, Zimmermann’s 3.12 ERA is tied for sixth best in baseball, tied with Madison Bumgarner and teammate Gio Gonzalez.

Player ERA IP From To
Clayton Kershaw 2.21 697.0 2011 2013
Johnny Cueto 2.61 433.2 2011 2013
Jered Weaver 2.77 578.2 2011 2013
Cliff Lee 2.80 666.1 2011 2013
Justin Verlander 2.81 707.2 2011 2013
Madison Bumgarner 3.12 614.1 2011 2013
Gio Gonzalez 3.12 597.0 2011 2013
Jordan Zimmermann 3.12 570.1 2011 2013
David Price 3.13 622.0 2011 2013
James Shields 3.15 705.2 2011 2013
Cole Hamels 3.15 651.1 2011 2013
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/22/2014.

It may not be today or even this time next year, but Zimmermann will eventually get his long-term contract. If not from the Nationals, then certainly elsewhere.

The Yankees attendance and revenue is down, but it makes sense

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There’s a long article in the New York Times today noting that the Yankees attendance is down and that, based on financial figures released as part of their stadium bond disclosures, ticket and suite revenues through last season have fallen by $166 million since the end of 2009.

There is a lot of talk in the article about the exciting young team the Yankees have put together and how much they’ve won so far in the early going. And there is a lot of talk about marketing and demographics — Hal Steinbrenner talks about baseball’s “millennial problem” — but the story of the Yankees’ box office issues, such as they are, is pretty straightforward.

All teams suffer attendance and revenue decline when they play poorly. While the Yankees have not been bad for a long, long time, that’s a somewhat relative thing. They Yankees have sold themselves and sold their fans on the idea that nothing short of a championship is acceptable, so missing the playoffs for three of the past four years is bad for them. Fans don’t want to go see a bad team, be it Yankees fans, Rays fans, Royals fans or whoever.

Despite the recent lack of success, the Yankees have still, perversely, continued to price their tickets, concessions, parking and everything else as though they’re the only game in town. When demand falls and prices remain super high, fewer people are buying your product. Even if you’re the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are good this year. What’s more, they’re good in that exciting way that only young promising players bursting out onto the scene can deliver. It’s a wonderful thing for marketing and stuff, but even under the best of circumstances, ticket sales tend to lag on field success, often by as much as a year. Go back and look at World Series winning teams — especially the surprise winners — and you’ll see that it’s the year after on-field success when the real attendance bumps happen. I expect, if the Yankees continue to play well, their gate will get really nice by the end of the summer, but I suspect we’ll also see a more dramatic bump next year.

Taken all together, this is a dog-bites-man story. The Yankees are not some transcendent institution, immune from market forces. They’re just one of 30 Major League Baseball teams competing against other entertainments for a finite amount of the public’s money and attention. Nothin’ to see here.

David Price had a rocky rehab start last night

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Red Sox starter David Price has been rehabbing a left elbow injury since early March. Last night he made his latest rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket. It didn’t go well.

Price allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings, requiring 89 pitches to do it. His velocity was good, but otherwise it was a night to forget. This was supposed to be Price’s last rehab start before returning to the Sox’ big league rotation, but one wonders if he’s ready for it.

Price didn’t talk to the media after the game, but Pawtucket’s manager said he was “upbeat” and “felt good.” For his part, John Farrell, upon hearing about the outing, said this:

“There’s no announcement at this point. We’ve got to sit with him and talk about what’s best for him, best for us as we move forward.”

The Sox could really use Price back in the rotation given their injury problems, but rushing him back if he’s not ready is certainly not ideal.

Stay tuned.