Twins right-hander Kevin Correia shut out the Rangers over eight innings this afternoon, scattering six hits (all singles) and one walk while striking out two. His ERA after five starts rests at 2.23, a stunning statistic for the veteran with a career 4.50 ERA. Correia has gone at least seven innings in all five of his starts and has walked exactly one in all five as well. The Twins, right now, are quite happy they plucked him out of the free agent pool with a two-year, $10 million contract.
For some as yet unexplained reason, though, Correia has pitched like an ace in April in recent years, but quickly turned back into a pumpkin once the calendar turned to May. Consider his monthly ERA dating back to 2010:
Is this the year Correia bucks the trend? The Twins have won in four of his five starts and are now a game over .500. With a good Correia, the Twins — currently with two starters with an ERA north of 6.00, and two others north of 4.00 — aren’t as much of an afterthought in the AL Central.
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?