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Nationals’ Triple-A team being in Fresno is less than ideal

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There’s an interesting article up over at The Athletic today. In it Brittany Ghiroli explores the challenges of the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A team being in Fresno. A very long — and not very direct — flight away from Nats Park.

It used to be a bit more common to see farm clubs a long way away from the big club but this age of frequent roster-shuffling, specialization and greater ability to diagnose injuries — and thus sideline players more readily — means that the shuttle between Triple-A and the bigs is used more frequently. When that shuttle requires a redeye flight in order to get a player to the park by first pitch of a day game or an early morning wakeup call to get there by an evening tilt, it can mean for some tired players. Or, in some cases, it can mean playing shorthanded for a day since you can’t get a guy to the park on short notice.

So why do the Nats have a Triple-A team in Fresno? Ghiroli notes that it’s the club’s failure to either (a) cultivate good relationships with minor league ownership groups with whom they need to affiliate; or (b) do what a lot of clubs have done and bought their way into the ownership group of a minor league team, thereby solidifying good relationships. As a result, the Nats have had their top farm club shuffle between four different cities — New Orleans, Columbus, Syracuse and Fresno — in fifteen years. Since they don’t own like the Mets now own Syracuse and they don’t have a solid relationship like the Indians do now with Columbus, for example, they have to play musical chairs every couple of years when affiliate agreements are up. Last time the music stopped they ended up in Fresno. Next time it could be someplace else.

Interesting read. Worth your time.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.