After 87 strikeouts and three homers, Jack Cust gets the boot

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A colossal flop as Seattle’s designated hitter, Jack Cust was designated for assignment Friday to make room for Erik Bedard on the roster.

Cust had just three homers and 23 RBI in 225 at-bats for the Mariners.  He was getting on base at a .344 clip, but his slugging percentage of .329 was barely above Ichiro’s .323 mark.  (Of course, Ichiro’s OBP is just .317, so Cust did have more than 30 points of OPS on him.)

But Cust can’t offer anything defensively, and since he’s managed only 16 homers in 574 at-bats over the last two years, he may have trouble finding work again in the majors.  He needs to some legitimate pop in combination with his willingness to take a walk, because with his lack of speed and the occasional mistake on the basepaths, he’s not going to score from first base very often.

Cust’s departure clears the way for the Mariners to give Wily Mo Pena a shot in a week or two.  For now, they may shift Mike Carp to the DH spot more frequently, opening up playing time in left field for Greg Halman.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.