Some initial post-trade deadline thoughts

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– I was stunned that the Yankees didn’t make so much as a minor deal, but they definitely stand out as obvious candidates to be busy in August.  Just how busy could hinge on Rafael Soriano’s performance.  Still, whether it’s Wandy Rodriguez — who could clear waivers and again become a possibility to be dealt as soon as Wednesday — or bench help, the Yankees’ ability to take on contracts should make deals relatively easy.

– Incredibly, not one reliever set to become a free agent at season’s end was moved this weekend.  Two of the game’s best setup men were dealt in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, and the returns were strong largely because they were under control for 2012.  However, no closers were shipped off and there weren’t many trades involving lesser setup men.  I thought it was a lock that the Padres would move Chad Qualls, and it figured that the A’s would subtract at least one or two from the group of Michael Wuertz, Brian Fuentes, Craig Breslow and Grant Balfour.  Colorado’s Rafael Betancourt, Washington’s Todd Coffey and the Mets’ Tim Byrdak also looked like candidates to go.

– I’m not ready to make a call on the winners and losers, other than to say that some of the teams that decided to stand pat look like the real losers here.  The Marlins should have moved Leo Nunez and Omar Infante, and the Cubs were crazy to tell teams they were closing up shop.  I can’t believe that the A’s, with all of their free-agent-to-be hitters and expensive relievers, only ended up moving Brad Ziegler.

I don’t see Erik Bedard as any sort of consolation prize for the Red Sox.  Maybe they wouldn’t have traded for him if the Rich Harden deal hadn’t fallen though, but one never knows with the Red Sox; it is possible Theo Epstein wanted both as insurance policies.  Regardless, Epstein did give up more for Bedard than he was going to for Harden and the fact that it was a three-team, seven-player deal suggests that this wasn’t something that simply came together at the last minute.

– The Nationals will carry their hunt for a long-term center fielder into the winter after declining to give up more than closer Drew Storen in return for Denard Span.  Neither Nationals nor Twins fans seemed enthused by that trade anyway.  B.J. Upton still might be the answer for Washington.  The Nationals couldn’t come up with the pieces to get him now, but he should be cheaper in the offseason, particularly since he’ll have just one arbitration-eligible season left before free agency.  Besides, Desmond Jennings is well on his way to making it obvious that he can be the Rays’ long-term center fielder.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.