With just a handful of games left in the regular season, the Indians have certainly done their part to remain relevant both in the AL Central and Wild Card races. They defeated the White Sox by a score of 3-1 this afternoon, improving to 79-68, 5.5 games behind the division-leading Tigers and one game behind the second Wild Card-leading Rays. It is their seventh victory in their last ten games, picking up three games each on the Tigers and Rays in that span of time.
Starter Danny Salazar didn’t make it through the fourth inning, but recorded nine of his 11 outs via strikeout and did not allow any runs on four hits and two walks. Seven Indians relievers combined to allow just one unearned run over the final five and one-third innings. The offense got to White Sox starter Hector Santiago in the middle innings, scoring once in the fourth on an RBI single by Drew Stubbs, and twice in the fifth on a Ryan Raburn double and a Michael Brantley sacrifice fly.
As of this posting, the Tigers are just getting under way against the Royals, and the Rays will match up against the Twins in an hour. The Indians have become a very interesting team to follow with the regular season nearly complete.
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?