Pirates, Cardinals both lose; NL Central still undecided

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The Pirates lost to the Reds 10-6 on Saturday afternoon on Ramon Santiago’s tenth-inning walk-off grand slam. That meant that the Cardinals went into their evening match-up against the Diamondbacks with the ability to clinch the NL Central with a win.

The Cardinals were unable to take care of business. D-Backs first baseman  Mark Trumbo did nearly all of the damage, homering twice and knocking in four, including a tie-breaking three-run jack in the seventh inning. The Cardinals mustered only two third-inning runs off of Wade Miley. As a result, the NL Central remains undecided going into the final day of the regular season.

If the Pirates win and the Cardinals lose on Sunday afternoon, they will tie with an 89-73 record and force a Game 163 tie-breaker to be played on Monday. Alternatively, either a Pirates loss or a Cardinals win will clinch the NL Central for the club from St. Louis.

Here’s what’s going on Sunday afternoon:

  • Pirates @ Reds, 1:10 PM ET (Gerrit Cole vs. Johnny Cueto)
  • Cardinals @ Diamondbacks, 4:10 PM ET (Adam Wainwright vs. Josh Collmenter)

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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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?