Just in case you thought the miniscule World Baseball Classic attendance at the Cuba-China game two days ago was a one-time thing, Ben Badler of Baseball America took another snapshot of the pathetic crowd at last night’s China-Brazil game.
Officially the announced attendance in Japan was 3,110, but Badler guessed that there were actually fewer than 100 people in the stands for a second straight game.
I’m not suggesting that any dramatic conclusions can be drawn from the fact that not many people from China, Brazil, and Cuba travel to Japan to watch their respective teams play in the WBC, but the fact that no one in Japan even wants to see these games definitely says something considering how much Japanese people like baseball in general.
Much like in America, the overall interest level in the WBC just isn’t there when the home team isn’t playing.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.