And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 21, Rangers 8: Look, we can point to Justin Smoak driving in a half dozen runs, Jesus Montero nearly hitting for the cycle or any number of other things as being the cause of this bloodbath. But the fact is, Derek Holland shaved his mustache the other day, and there is likely a causal link there.

Rockies 13, Astros 5: Carlos Gonzalez hit homers in the 5th, sixth and 8th innings. He’s 10 for 16 with five home runs in his past four games.

Pirates 2, Reds 1: A.J. Burnett didn’t allow any earned runs over seven innings. Aroldis Chapman didn’t pitch in this game. Based on how his last week or so has gone, I’m going to assume he was unavailable because he was either running from Interpol, involved in a long con involving a phony off-track betting parlor or was compelled to participate in some underground Russian roulette ring in Saigon by circumstance and his own mental scars.

Braves 10, Cardinals 7: Freddy Freeman got his new sports glasses yesterday. And then, in his first at bat since his eye problems got intolerable, hit hit a home run. He added a double and finished with three RBI. Ze goggles! Zay do zomething!

Marlins 5, Nationals 3: Johnson beats Wang. Wang didn’t go long in this one, but he allowed no home runs, so no one was hard on him. In other news: “That’s OK, I brought an erector set.” “Throw a towel over it!” “Do some pushups Pablo, Maybe it will go away!” If you get that — and if you’re anyone other than Old Gator — kudos.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 1: The O’s lose their fifth straight after giving up four solo homers to the Jays. But bad news for T.O.: Brandon Morrow left the game early after getting plunked on the shin by a line drive. Just a contusion, and he should make his next start.

White Sox 4, Rays 3: The winning streak is now at eight, this despite losing starting pitcher Jose Quintana via ejection and the whole Hawk Harrelson freakout and everything. The Rays have lost 9 of 13 at home. Joe Maddon: “We’re not really playing a high level of baseball right now,” Maddon said. “Too many mistakes on the field.”  As opposed to too many mistakes at the golf course or in the Matrix or wherever.

Cubs 8, Padres 6: Darwin Barney had a two-run walkoff homer. After the game he said “That was the first walk-off home run I’ve had at any level, I didn’t even see it go out.” Maybe it didn’t happen then? Maybe … Barney doesn’t himself believe in Darwin!  In other news, my Padres tickets probably just got another buck cheaper.

Phillies 10, Mets 6: The Phillies win, but since Lee went six and since they scored nine of their ten runs in the seventh inning and beyond, he doesn’t get the win. I guess chemistry didn’t help the back end of the Mets bullpen.

Red Sox 6, Tigers 4: David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks each hit two-run homers and Kevin Youkilis had a solo shot. Miguel Cabrera went 4 for 5 with three doubles in a losing cause. The Red Sox have won 14 of 19. Tigers fans are the most dour bunch on the planet right now. And now that their division deficit is 5.5 games, ugh, maybe they should be.

Twins 4, Athletics 0: Oakland stinks on ice right now. Letting Francisco Liriano — who had been one of the worst starters in all of baseball so far this year — shut you out on three hits over six innings is damn nigh inexcusable. Josh Willingham homered and drove in three. He has to be serious trade bait at the deadline, right?

Royals 6, Indians 3: Kansas City finished May 15-13. It was their first winning May in 12 years. Cleveland has lost five of six.

Diamondbacks 4, Giants 1: Tim Lincecum pitched better than he has but Ian Kennedy pitched better than Tim Lincecum, allowing one run in seven and two-thirds. Paul Goldschmidt has had only 13 at bats against Lincecum but already has four home runs off him, the most of any player.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 3: One Matt Kemp injury was survivable for the Dodgers. But, uh oh, here’s another. Well, the same one re-aggravated. “It feels worse than the first time,” Kemp said. Not good.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: New York avoids the sweep and LAA sees its winning streak end. The Yankees blew a four run lead first, but it was all OK in the end. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson homered.

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.