Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez blew his fourth save of the season on Sunday as the Athletics walked off 8-6 winners. Rodriguez started the bottom of the ninth inning in Oakland tasked with preserving a one-run lead, but walked Rajai Davis, allowed a game-tying double, then served up the walk-off two-run home run to Ryon Healy.
The Athletics also defeated the Tigers in walk-off fashion on Saturday, with Adam Rosales hitting a walk-off two-run single off of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, 35, now has an ugly 8.49 ERA with a 13/5 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings thus far. One wonders if this latest outing will prompt manager Brad Ausmus to take Rodriguez out of the closer’s role. Justin Wilson in particular has pitched well enough to merit the official role as closer, as he has a 1.42 ERA with a 21/4 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings. Shane Greene (1.74 ERA) and Alex Wilson (2.25 ERA) have also pitched well in relief.
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?