A day after Joe Torre’s Dodgers completely housed the Cubbes and sent them packing, Ozzie Guillen looks to avoid the same fate with his Chicago team. It’s supposed to rain for another few hours in the Windy City, which is rather fitting. Carlos Pena returns to the lineup for Tampa, and feel free to use this as an open thread to talk about whatever while we wait for this one to start. (Matt Garza vs John Danks, lineups) · (79) ·
HWB Waikiki (7-6 loss to North Shore, walk-off style)
Damon Sublett: 1 for 5, 1 R, 3 K
Jeremy Bleich: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 7-1 GB/FB – 39 of 69 pitches were strikes (56.5%) … threw first pitch strikes to 12 of the 19 batters he faced … all three runs scored on RBI groundouts
We’ll have some Yankee content later, but with three playoff games on tap and the Giants set to play the Seahawks, baseball is far from the minds of New Yorkers. In an hour, the Phillies will try once again to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Joe Blanton faces Jeff Suppan. Feel free to turn this thread into an open thread. Nothing is taboo. · (67) ·
In what will be the first of four attempts at Division Series sweeps, the Phillies and Brewers are set to square off tonight. The Phillies haven’t won a playoff series since they won the 1993 NLCS. Jamie Moyer, the inspiration of Mike Mussina, will throw tonight for the Phils while David Bush goes for the Brewers.
Game time is 6:37 p.m.
When the free agent frenzy begins, Bobby Abreu will be front and center among the Yankee free agents. He’s done very well in New York, and he’s coming off a 20-20 season in which he yet again drove in 100 runs and hit .296/.371/.471. It is not easy to replace a player who puts up Bobby Abreu-like numbers.
But Bobby Abreu is no spring chicken. He’ll turn 35 prior to Opening Day and doesn’t fit the Yanks’ purported youth movement. The Yanks, however, still have to field a team of nine viable starters, and in that regard, a short-term solution involving Bobby Abreu wouldn’t be bad. It certainly would be a better and safer move than allowing Xavier Nady to claim the right field job uncontested.
Abreu, however, has different plans in mind. He, according to Mark Feinsand, wants a three-year deal from the Yanks.
Abreu has said several times that he would like to remain with the Yankees, having enjoyed his 2-1/2-year stint in pinstripes. But the 34-year-old also is seeking at least a three year-contract, leading most baseball insiders to believe the outfielder will wind up in a new uniform this winter.
According to a source, Abreu has been upset by some recent media reports and speculation suggesting that his days in the Bronx are over. Abreu is vacationing with his family in the Bahamas and is expected to return to the area this weekend, although his situation won’t be settled until next month at the earliest, as he figures to test the free agent market.
GM Brian Cashman said he has not discussed any contract issues with Abreu or his representatives, so he wasn’t in a position to say how many years Abreu is seeking. But Cashman…stressed that he is “a big fan” of the outfielder. “I thought he was a welcome addition,” Cashman said. “He solidified right field, was an offensive force and has been a steady performer. He’s a professional, and his demeanor is outstanding. He’s done a great job.”
There are a few things going on here. First, this is the standard “negotiate through the media” technique. Abreu’s reps — or whoever this anonymous source is — now claim he wants “at least” a three-year contract, but 35-year-old Bobby Abreu would probably not get any more than three years on the open market.
The Yankees meanwhile have something of the upper hand here. They like Abreu, but the team also seems content to let him walk. They also hold the arbitration trump card. The Yanks could offer him arbitration and then re-sign him for a year. They can also offer him arbitration, let him walk and claim a draft pick. It’s a win-win for the team.
I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Abreu. I know his defense isn’t all that, but replacing his bat would not be an easy task. Xavier Nady had a terrible September after his red-hot August, and his career line of .280/.335/.458 is a far, far cry from Abreu’s .300/.400/.500 line. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two split the difference, and the Yanks bring Abreu for two years. If they let Bobby go, I wouldn’t be too shocked either if Manny Ramirez then ended up pinstripes.
Ah, the machinations of the off-season.
What a perfect little article for a boring baseball Saturday (until later, of course). The Daily News’s Anthony McCarron catches up with Kevin Maas, he of the record-breaking home run pace. I know I have that Topps Record Breaker card sitting around somewhere. Anyway, Maas is back at home in California, raising a son and daughter by himself, working at Charles Schwabb. He talks to McCarron about life during and after baseball, including the Maas top girls in right field and his being in attendance for Aaron Boone’s home run. Oh, and he mentions that he never did steroids. · (1) ·
Allow me to interrupt coverage of the world’s most boring Division Series playoff round to opine for a minute on attendance. Maury Brown over at the Biz of Baseball analyzing the 2008 attendance numbers, and the findings, at least to me, are interesting.
The 2008 Major League Baseball regular season is the second highest attendance mark in history, drawing 78,624,324, falling just 1.14 percent below last year’s record of 79,502,524 in paid attendance, a sign that baseball’s popularity remains exceptionally strong. While the figure is the second best ever, forecasts at the beginning of the season were for a total attendance in excess of 80 million. Still, the strong attendance figure comes at a time when the economy has been hit exceptionally hard, gas prices impacted travel, and the weather wreaked havoc at open-air stadiums, lowering walk-up ticket purchases…
Next season, MLB will most likely not reach this year’s attendance figure. With both the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field coming online with reduced seating capacities than the outgoing facilities, attendance for the two strongest attended teams will drop.
Still, MLB has always focused on revenues, and next year should be no exception. While attendance dropped sllightly this year, revenues were up from $6.075 billion to $6.5 billion this year. Even with the expected 2009 decrease in attendance, and concerns about the economy prevailing into next year, expect revenues to remain flat or slightly above this year’s figure.
It’s remarkable that baseball has managed to sustain such lofty attendance numbers over the last few seasons. With the economy in the tank, people are seemingly finding solace in the 81-game home schedule.
What’s interesting about this year’s attendance numbers, as Brown notes, is that they mostly follow team success. While the two Florida teams both enjoyed good seasons, they were the outliers, drawing relatively fewer fans than other good teams. But in general, the teams that won drew more fans that the teams that didn’t win.
No where was this more evident than in Washington, DC. While the Nationals moved into a new stadium — once a guarantee of lofty attendance figures — the team lost 102 games. They enjoyed an attendance increase over their final 2007 numbers at the RFK Stadium pit, but they had the smallest home attendance for a team in a new ballpark since Camden Yards ushered in a Golden Age of stadiums. People just don’t want to see bad teams play.
Next year, attendance numbers are bound to go down. Neither the Yankees nor the Mets can actually meet their 2008 attendance numbers. The Yanks will probably draw around 4.238 million fans next year, which would be capacity for the new stadium and a few thousand fewer than this year’s totals. The Mets, on the other hand, decided to cut the size of their new stadium by over 12,000 seats. The most the Mets can draw is 3.645 million fans. Why a team in a metropolitan area the size of New York’s would opt to cut capacity by so much is well beyond me.
In the end, though, baseball is alive and well. Fans are flocking to games, and no one is predicting the demise of our National Pastime.