The Tigers are going to go with Bruce Rondon as their closer

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Many of you are saying “who is Bruce Rondon?”  The most relevant answer to that question for you is that he’s the reason why the Tigers aren’t, according to Danny Knobler, going to be players for Rafael Soriano or any other established closer types:

 

Hard-throwing is right. He’s a big old hoss of a dude who strikes out a lot of guys. He pitched at three different levels last year, striking out 66 in 53 innings. He walks a fair number of guys, but he’s trending in a better direction with that.

A poor-man’s Craig Kimbrel?  The comp is crazy on the surface due to Kimbrel’s dominance in the bigs, but there were questions about calling him up and handing him a job too due to concerns about his control.  Rondon doesn’t strike out nearly as many guys per nine as Kimbrel did in the minors, thus the “poor-man’s” part of it, but Kimbrel walked more dudes.

The point, though, isn’t that Rondon be anything close to Kimbrel. The point is that he’s cheap and team controlled and is likely to be way better than Jose Valverde, and if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that going big on free agent closers is a sucker’s game.  If I’m Detroit I hand Rondon the ball to see if he can do it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. They won the pennant with Valverde basically on the bench, so they can make it through a couple months of the season that way too.

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.