From Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas comes word that Rangers left-hander Derek Holland threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas — his first time atop a mound since he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee back on January 10.
It was a nice first step for Holland, who is expected to be sidelined until the middle of the 2014 season.
The 25-year-old southpaw posted a strong 3.42 ERA (120 ERA+), 1.286 WHIP, and 189 strikeouts in 213 innings last season for the Rangers. He signed a five-year, $28 million contract extension with Texas in March 2012.
Holland injured his knee this winter when his dog ran into him on a staircase at his home.
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?