Rangers reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever Neftali Feliz made his 2013 debut against the Twins this afternoon, recording five outs, surrendering just one hit and recording two strikeouts. He came on in relief of starter Travis Blackley with two outs in the fifth. Against Darin Mastroianni, Feliz showcased all four of his pitches, including a fastball that touched 94 MPH, about the same level where it was last year.
Feliz went on the disabled list with an elbow injury last year after a start against the Astros on May 18. He underwent Tommy John surgery on August 1. Prior to his injury, he had compiled a 3.16 ERA in 42.2 innings spanning seven starts and one relief appearance.
The Rangers couldn’t muster much of an offensive attack as Twins starter Kevin Correia pitched seven solid innings. Reliever Jared Burton surrendered a solo home run to A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the eighth, but that was all. Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to notch his 32nd save of the season.
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?