10:05 p.m. EDT update: Nope, no promotion. Rizzo left Triple-A Iowa’s game with a sore right wrist, according to CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney.
The Cubs could be ready to pull the trigger on a big move following a humiliating sweep at the hands of the Pirates. CSNChicago.com states that Anthony Rizzo was pulled from Triple-A Iowa’s game Sunday for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, and no injury was reported.
Of course, this being a minor league game, Rizzo could still be injured and no one is willing to say quite yet. Or it could even be a punitive benching.
One thing is for sure: the Cubs, losers of 12 in a row, are in desperate need of a lift. And Rizzo would seem to be the obvious candidate to provide it. The 22-year-old has hit .354/.416/.713 with 17 homers and 44 RBI in 178 at-bats for Iowa this season.
A Rizzo promotion would likely put Bryan LaHair in left field, turning Alfonso Soriano into a very expensive and likely unhappy fourth outfielder.
Still, this might be much ado about nothing. A source told David Kaplan that the Cubs still aren’t quite ready to make the Rizzo move yet.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?