Bloomberg looks at the attendance numbers 60% of the way through the season and finds what one might expect to find: if the team wins, the fans show up:
On a team-by-team level, the numbers support the conventional wisdom that fans will come to see winners.
Thirteen of the league’s 30 teams have seen attendance improve so far this year. Nine of those 13 have a better winning percentage this season than they did at the same point last season . . . On the flip side, 10 of the 17 teams with declines in attendance have also seen declines in performance.
There are some quirks, obviously. The Red Sox and Cardinals are down in record but up in attendance. A lot of that is based on the fact that both teams had great 2013 seasons and are pretty solid draws all the time anyway.
Maybe the oddest ones are the Blue Jays and Nationals, both of whom are doing better this year than last but both of which dropped in attendance. That’s not great. Maybe Washington’s drop is based on crazy-enthusiasm in 2013 which boosted attendance early, before it was clear that they weren’t going anyplace last year. The Jays thing could be much the same, as there was a lot of exuberance early in 2013 and a lot of skepticism coming in to this season.
Largely, though, the pattern holds. Which just makes me laugh at the claims some owners make from time to time about being unable to put more into payroll unless and until attendance goes up. The fans follow winning, winning doesn’t follow the fans.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.