Your team is in first place, apparently playoff-bound for the first time in many fans’ lifetimes and you just won with a dramatic walkoff homer. What do you do? Well, if you’re Ned Yost you complain about attendance:
“I mean, what, 13,000 people got to see a great game? . . . We’re in a pennant race, yeah. We’ve been working on trying to build this team for the last three or four years to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a championship. And not only the division, but we want to contend for a world championship. It’s really, really important we have our fans behind us at the stadium . . . I know there’s different things you can do. You can watch it on the Internet. You can watch it on TV. But there’s a real need for our fans to be a part of this. We had a great crowd last night, and I was kind of hoping we’d have another great crowd tonight, and we really didn’t.”
Sam Mellinger of the KC Star eviscerates Yost over his comments, showing that Yost’s claim that the team performs better with more fans in the seats is simply false. And noting that, hey, you just had a pretty electric win with a small crowd. Showing that, contrary to some of Yost’s other comments (which you can read at the Star) those Braves teams for whom he coached in the early 90s did NOT have tons of people in the stands every night. Mellinger also not-at-all-subtly reminds everyone that the Royals have sucked for ages, that maybe, just maybe, it takes a bit more than a nice run in August to convince the fans to all come back and that shaming fans despite decades of disappointment by the team they love is not exactly cool.
It’s a justified evisceration. Mellinger is not the kind of guy who just spouts off for no reason. He’s not a sportswriter who looks for stuff to be mad about. He’s legitimately irked here, and it’s very hard to blame him.
There’s cool stuff going on in Kansas City right now. Maybe Yost should focus on the cool stuff.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.