Pedro Martinez has a book? So does Jamie Moyer. It’s called “Just Tell Me I Can’t,” and Moyer and it were profiled on NPR’s “Fresh Air” show yesterday. There is a transcript of some of his highlights here.
And, with the caveat that I listen to NPR a lot so I’m not trying to make fun of them, there is definitely a different level of baseball analysis featured there than you or I may be used to. Listen to Moyer describe, in NPR’s terms, “using psychology to frustrate batters”:
Knowing that we all have an ego — and that in baseball sometimes those egos can be really big — hitters can have really big egos and not only do they want to hit home runs but they want to hit them 30 rows back, because that’s what people want to see. So now take that ego that they have and use it against them. … If I can throw a hard pitch — maybe it’s just off the plate — but [then] I throw the same pitch or a pitch looking just like it, but it’s 8-10 miles an hour slower … and they swing like it’s the hard pitch, now all of the sudden they’re thinking it’s a fastball and they’re swinging way ahead of the ball, and now they become frustrated. And that’s where the game of chess, of cat and mouse in baseball really comes into play.
Or, as we all call it: throwing a changeup.
I can’t help but wonder how many non-sports fans listened to that and thought “hmm … maybe there’s more to baseball than I realized?”
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?