Closer Koji Uehara has been Mr. Dependable for the Red Sox all year long and he’s finally been rewarded for it. Not only does he get to pitch in the World Series, he will go home tonight with some hardware, earning MVP of the ALCS for a sterling effort, notching three saves in as many opportunities and earning a win while striking out nine and walking none in six innings of work.
During the ALDS, Uehara earned two saves and lost one game, allowing one run in three innings of work while striking our four and walking one.
During the regular season, Uehara finished with a 1.09 ERA and some incredible strikeout and walk numbers. His 11.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio was far ahead of second-place Edward Mujica’s 9.2. His 38.1% strikeout rate ranked third among all relievers, trailing only Aroldis Chapman and Greg Holland. His 3.4% walk rate was also third-best among all relievers, trailing Mujica and Mark Melancon.
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?