Remember: never believe a thing a team says about its finances

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Dan Le Batard has a takedown of the Marlins which pretty much squares with my view of things too.  This passage piqued my interest, however:

The Marlins last offseason were like a gluttonous fat man at the all-you-can-eat buffet, stacking the plate with his eyes and appetite without regard to practicality or the oncoming food coma. The team overspent assuming we’d fill the ballpark, which we didn’t, and that meant losing about $40 million in that calamity of a season. Even though management didn’t have to serial-killer slash the payroll, there were going to have to be cuts, so the team decided to take a wrecking ball to the blueprint and just start again.

I’m not sure what the source is for that $40 million loss, but it is worth remembering as we enter free agent season that a baseball team’s claims of profit and/or loss are almost always pure science fiction when compared to the numbers that are reported for most other types of businesses.

Baseball accounting is profoundly opaque, and the only glimpses we ever see into the finances of a baseball team are either wither accidental or are partial-truths released by the team in order to further some specific end such as either proving or disputing that the owners are broke, depending on whichever story suits their purposes at the time.  And even then, we almost never get much above the bottom line number (Team X lost $Y last year). A number which tells us nothing about how much the ownership group extracted from the team above the line.

For example, we’ve learned in the last year that Jeff Loria at one time and may still pay himself an annual salary of some $10 million. And that there is a team “managing general partner” called Double Play Company which takes $8.5 million more. Oh, Double Play Company is owned by Loria and its president is Marlins team president David Samson.  Do other teams have that kind of setup? Don’t know! Because no one ever gets to see the finances of baseball teams! Indeed, teams and the league go to great lengths to avoid ever having to release their finances to the public, be it under pressure from politicians, in the course of litigation or anything else. They DO NOT want you to see the books, folks.

So call me crazy or call me paranoid, but I will never take a team’s statement about its profits or losses unless and until they show me the books to prove it. And that goes for the $40 million-losing Marlins too.

Teams still don’t know if three-batter minimum rule will be in effect for 2020

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According to Athletics GM David Forst, Major League Baseball has still not informed teams whether or not the proposed three-batter-minimum rule will be in effect for the 2020 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The league and the players’ union came to an agreement back in March regarding a handful of rule changes with the three-batter-minimum rule among them. From the way it was discussed, it seemed like it was set in stone. If Forst is unsure, then the league clearly hasn’t done a good job of communicating that.

Slusser notes that the A’s are operating as if the rule will be in effect, as the club non-tendered lefty Ryan Buchter earlier this week. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA with 235 strikeouts in 214 innings, but the bulk of that success has come against left-handed hitters. This past season 115 of the 198 total plate appearances (58 percent) against Buchter were taken by fellow lefties. He held lefties to a .728 OPS compared to .904 against righties. As a result, despite Buchter’s overall terrific numbers, the A’s felt the roster spot could be more effectively used with a different player given the proposed rule.

Some teams may not make the same assumption as the A’s. What if a team keeps its lefty specialist(s) on the roster or goes out and acquires such a player, not knowing whether or not the rule is in effect for the upcoming season?

Since it has been brought up publicly, the issue will likely be resolved quickly and we should all have clarity on the rules for the 2020 season.