Inside the AL East bullpens

The RAB media empire continues to grow. Even though we’re not actually instituting a paywall, our online baseball presence is growing. Beginning today and continuing for as long as they’ll have me, I’ll be penning the AL East Divide and Conquer recaps for Baseball Prospectus. To preview the season, I explored bullpen construction for the AL East five. The Yanks clearly have the best pen while the Rays have completely overhauled their relief staff. Anyway, I’ll be there once a week, usually on Tuesdays or Wednesday so be sure to check it out.

The RAB Radio Show: April 1, 2011

Finally, baseball. Mike and I talk about the underreported aspects of Opening Day, but we can’t help but feast on the highlights. If you’re a Curtis Granderson fan, this podcast is for you. If you’re not a Curtis Granderson fan, well, I believe you will be in due time.

Podcast run time 23:48

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

Introducing the RAB Paywall

Since late February in 2007, long before Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia were Yankees, long before we knew about Manuel Banuelos or the power of Kevin Long, Joe, Mike and I began RAB as an experiment in blogging. We had been writing for various other outlets and thought we could do a better job on our own site. Since then, we’ve followed four baseball seasons, penned over 11,200 posts, received 950,000 comments and see 1.2 million of you reload the site every month.

For years, RAB has been a labor of love. We earned some money off of advertising, but it’s not enough to run the site full time. Mike has worked as an engineer and writer for MLB Trade Rumors and FanGraphs; Joe has a day job as a tech/mobile phone writer and also contributes to FanGraphs; I’m in law school and recently picked up a gig at Baseball Prospectus. Still, we’d love to focus on River Ave. Blues as a full-time venture, and so we announce today a trailblazing path in baseball blogging: The RAB paywall.

Drawing inspiration from The New York Times’ recent foray into charging for web content, we’ll be doing the same. After all, while free content is a nice benefit of the Internet, those who produce the content need to be adequately compensated for their time and energy.

So how will this work? First, the good part: Some of our articles will be free. You can still enjoy game threads and open threads as well as the numerous asides we post. Those aren’t going anywhere. But long-form pieces and recaps will fall behind the paywall. Our readers too can access a certain number of free posts per month. Here’s how it works:

  • 27 free articles per month. After 27, you can buy a monthly subscription for $3.14.
  • 42 free comments per year. After exceeding that total, commenters can purchase an annual unlimited account for $19.23.

Of course, we’ll also offer some bonuses as The Times is doing. Those of you who find their way to RAB via our @RABFeed Twitter account or Facebook page won’t be docked for article views. We still want to make RAB as accessible as possible while working toward drawing in enough revenue to make the site sustainable.

We know many of you might not be happy about this news, but we hope it will lead to better and more thorough coverage. With the added revenue, we’re going to upgrade our offerings, post more frequently and provide more in depth coverage. Over the next few months, you’ll see some changes to the site that aren’t quite ready for prime time, and by next April Fools Day, the paywall will be live.

DirecTV’s deal with YES Network expires today

Yankees fans nearly faced a cataclysmic situation last fall. FOX, which had exclusive broadcast rights for the World Series, was involved in a contract spat with Cablevision, which serves millions of customers in the tri-state area. Thankfully for Yanks fans, the ALCS was broadcast on TBS. But had the Yankees advanced to the World Series, those fans might have been blacked out, as Fox pulled its programming from the cable carrier. The two parties averted disaster, though the point became moot when the Yankees were eliminated.

The situation now facing DirecTV customers will affect Yankees fans on a greater level. While the World Series is the main event, as the Yankees showed last year, it doesn’t matter much if you don’t get there. The regular season, though, goes 162 games whether there’s a broadcast or not. Today the agreement between DirecTV and YES Network expired, leaving those Yankees fans in limbo. Could they possibly miss a portion of the regular season because the two parties can’t reach a new deal?

The two sides have had their says in the matter. Says DirecTV: “DirecTV customers should not be forced to pay a penny more for YES Network.” The company claims that YES is seeking a fee “significantly higher” than it receives from other cable providers. A YES spokesman says, “We are negotiating in good faith with DirecTV in hopes of resolving this matter quickly.”

This current incident brings to mind a nearly decade-old dispute between, surprise-surprise, Cablevision and the YES Network. When the network debuted in 2002, Cablevision did not carry it. The Yankees had previously been broadcast on MSG, which is owned by Cablevision. Only government intervention brought the two parties together.

It is not clear whether the two parties have made any progress in the matter. DirecTV says they will keep the station alive during negotiations, but YES could opt to pull it. It’s unfortunate to see these kinds of disputes, since it ultimately hurts the consumer in the end. Still, it could be worse. You could be a Dish Network subscriber. That carrier has never broadcast the YES Network.

Yankees top FanGraphs’ organizational rankings, again

What happens when you combined a talented Major League roster with a top five farm system and more financial resources than any other team? You land in the top spot of FanGraphs’ organizational rankings, which the Yankees have now occupied for the second year in a row. The ranked first in big league talent and financial resources and third in baseball operations and farm system, which seem like reasonable rankings. “It’s a tough combination to beat, honestly,” said Dave Cameron, who wrote the article but didn’t rank the teams, that was a group effort. “A well run baseball operations staff backed by revenue streams larger than several other organizations put together, in the largest market in the country, with a brand that is synonymous with baseball itself – the Yankees aren’t going anywhere any time soon.”

The Red Sox, Phillies, Rays, and Braves round out the top five of the rankings, basically the five best teams in baseball.

Recapping the majors

If you’re looking for a way to catch up on games around the league, but want to do it as quickly as possible, I have a solution. At FanGraphs I’ve started a daily featured called The Morning After, which is way too long and takes forever to produce. Understandably, I want you to read it and provide feedback. You can read today’s The Morning After at FanGraphs, and then comment here. Deal?