And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 10, Phillies 5: Cliff Lee was OK in his return, but he was on a pitch count and the bullpen — including reverted-to-longman-work Kyle Kendrick — got shellacked. Again. Ike Davis drove in three.  The Mets so thoroughly own Citizens Bank Park this year that the Phillies are gonna have to launch some awkward take-back-the-park initiative pretty soon. Philly-a-tude! Phillies-o-rama! Phillandia!

Rays 4, Yankees 1: Welcome to what everyone else has had to deal with forever, Yankees fans: shaky bullpen work.  Granted a 1-0 lead isn’t the easiest thing to protect, but David Robertson left little doubt about whether this one was going to be blown, giving up four runs.

Rockies 6, Padres 2: Left-hander Christian Friedrich pitched six solid innings and …. wait.  Sorry, I can’t continue this one. I need to clear something up. [dials the Rockies clubhouse]

Me: Mr Freed-rich …
Christian Friedrich: “Fredrick”
Me: You’re putting me on.
Christian Friedrich: No, it’s pronounced “Fredrick”
Me: Do you also say “Christ-Ean”?
Christian Friedrich: No… “Christian.”
Me: Well, why isn’t it “Christ-Ean Frederick?”?
Christian Friedrich: It isn’t; it’s “Christian Frederick.”
Me: I see.
Christian Friedrich: You must be Craig.
Me: No, it’s pronounced “Cray-ag.”
Christian Friedrich: But they told me it was “Craig.”
Me: Well, they were wrong then, weren’t they?

Pirates 4, Nationals 2: Erik Bedard left with an injury after one inning but the Pirates didn’t miss a beat: five guys combined to pitch eight innings of two-run ball and Andrew McCutchen went 4 for 4.  Bryce Harper went 0 for 4, but he did catch a Pedro Alvarez fly near the wall and then turned around with the ball in his glove and taunted Pirates fans with it, and that’s pretty effin’ solid.  As a tremendous fan of Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a heel in Major League Baseball right now.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: Hit this one up yesterday. Zack Greinke’s bad luck and lack of support has to remind him of his days back in Kansas City.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: Adam Lind was moved down to eighth in the order. Must not have liked it because he hit a homer. Brandon Morrow struck out ten.

Cubs 1, Braves 0: A two hour and five minute game on getaway day. I have no idea if this is common for the Cubs, but I am shocked — shocked! — that the Braves went down quietly while a plane waited for them at the airport.

White Sox 8, Indians 1: Jake Peavy (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and Adam Dunn (1 for 3, HR, BB, 2RBI) continue to carry this team.

Angels 6, Twins 2: Mike Trout had a couple of doubles and a couple of RBI. Albert Pujols singled in a couple of runs. I’ve been telling people for a while that I’ll feel way better about Pujols being back on track if he starts to simply hit a bit — singles count — as opposed to us watching the home run totals as if they mean everything.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Two of the Royals runs were unearned thanks to a Marlon Byrd error. Bruce Chen gave up three runs while pitching into the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez had a bases-clearing double.  The Sox have lost seven of eight. Those games were against Oakland, Baltimore and Kansas City. Which, sure, they’re all playing decent ball, but no, they were not supposed to be abusing the Boston Red Sox.

Marlins 5, Astros 3: I fell asleep before this one ended and I set ATH to post this morning before I woke up. In the meantime, Old Gator supplied a pithy recap that will suit our purposes just fine:

The Feesh took down the Astros 5-3 in extra eenings last night, playing beyond Craig’s bedtime when he wore himself out trying to button the rear hatch on his Pooh pajamas after having already put them on … Josh Johnson peetched seven pretty solid innings, thank Buddha, giving up just two runs and looking, if not like the dominant monster he was early last season, at least a lot less like the batting practice machine he has been in most of his starts. Probably Slobbering Ozzie had noticed something about his motion, and Josh discovered the flaw while he was trying to figure out what Ozzie had said to him in the first place. Omar Infante got Ryan Webb back the two runs he gave away for him the night before with a walkoff seengle in the twelfth.

The Astros have assuredly not been the doormats everyone expected them to be, at least not in the early going, and it’s a shame these hungry kids will have that degenerate, post-classical phenomenon known as designatedhitterball in their futures, this just as they’re getting good at real baseball. Perhaps playing well enough to surprise everyone is their bucket list.

Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Lincecum looked good for three innings and then hit a wall in the fourth, giving up a bases-clearing triple to Tony Gwynn Jr. In other news, I don’t care if he plays 15 years, I will still have trouble getting my mind around the fact that Tony Gwynn’s son is playing major league baseball. I never have this trouble with other kids of major leaguers, but for some reason it just doesn’t match up for me with Gwynn, who no matter his age, shape or infirmity, I am convinced stopped playing baseball only a year or two ago.

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 2: Arizona is skidding, St. Louis is surging. Close until the ninth when Matt Holliday drove in two with a double and Allen Craig hit a two-run bomb.

Mariners 2, Tigers 1:  John Jaso drove in the go-ahead late after Jason Vargas allowed one run over eight innings. Detroit is a .500 team on May 10th. No one saw that coming.

Rangers vs. Orioles: POSTPONED: Pfft. As if Josh Hamilton isn’t powerful enough to have just stopped the rain with his bat and his determination. Weak sauce, Hamilton.

The Padres owners try to explain why they aren’t spending money

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There was an interesting article in the San Diego Union-Tribune over the weekend about the Padres, their owners and their finances.

The article purports to be a rare look into the finances of a big league club. And yes, the owners opened their books, to a degree, to the writer of the story, talked about the team’s financial position, its debt and its approach to team payroll, past, present and future. The upshot: the team has had lots of debt, has had to do a lot of work to get out of that situation and now, with some restructuring out of the way, the club looks forward to spending more on players. Eventually. Like, maybe in 2020 or 2021.

On the one hand, yes, it’s actually got some good information in there! Some details about team finances you don’t often see. Which is totally cool as far as that goes. The problem is that the article doesn’t go nearly as far as it may seem and, in the end, is just a far more elaborate than usual excuse from a team about its failure to spend money.

The tell here comes from what is not mentioned as opposed to what is. For example, while it talks about how much is being spent on various things — baseball salaries, operating, marketing, etc. — nowhere does it talk about the owners’ own take. Rather, it leaves you with the impression that the owners haven’t seen a dime from the team in the several years that they’ve owned it. Color me extraordinarily skeptical about that. As we’ve seen with other clubs — most notably the Marlins, but most do it — broad categories such as “baseball operations” or “non baseball operations” often include substantial payments to owners in less-than-obvious line items. Payments to LLCs and partnerships for “consulting” or “management fees” or what have you. Do the Padres have similar expenditures? We can’t tell from this article, but it’s telling to me that they have spent about as much on front office/miscellaneous baseball ops stuff as player salaries over the past several years. A lot of that has been at building a strong minor league development system, but I’m guessing not all.

Similarly, there is an awfully large portion of the article aimed at telling the tale of the clubs’ massive debt and its restructuring. Yes, debt service can be a killer for liquidity, but it doesn’t really talk too much about the debt for its own sake. Such as the fact that (a) the current owners knew full-well of the debt they were inheriting from the previous owner, John Moores, when they bought the team; and (b) that by assuming the debt, their purchase price for the team was lowered, as it always will be in transactions that involve a lot of debt-assumption. The current owners have had the team since 2012. I don’t recall them telling the public then that there would be a near decade’s worth of swimming against the current of debt before they started paying for players. That’s never been in the season ticket brochure.

It’s also worth noting that, for as much as the debt restructuring is talked up in the story, it is saving the Padres only $8 million a year. They’ve been at least $60 million below the luxury tax threshold for several years now. It’s more than the club’s debt keeping them from spending money. It’s largely been a choice.

Again, none of which is to say that the article is not interesting in its own right. It certainly is. There is certainly more information here than one typically sees in an article about a team’s finances. But it is just partial information. Moreover, it seems to be aimed at justifying another year or two of non-contention to fans without satisfactorily explaining all of the many years of non-contention which preceded it. The Padres famously went all-in and spent some money on players in 2015. Why did that make sense then if this debt problem has been there all along? Why did they give Eric Hosmer over $100 million last year? The article wants to portray ownership as sober and responsible and prudent and use that to explain why the Padres have stunk on ice for a good long time, but it is not very convincing in communicating some consistent, rational thread from ownership.

That all of this comes at a time when clubs are being criticized for not spending money is no accident, I suspect. As such, I am choosing to read the piece for some interesting information it conveys while understanding that it has a pretty significant P.R. component to it as well.