In a perfect world, teams in Major League Baseball would put the best players on the field. But we all know that doesn't happen. Many roster moves, trades and even playing time are based on money and not what's best for the fans or for the product on the field. Heck, we all know that's the reality. There is even a baseball blog called, "It's About the Money, Stupid." The web site's sole reason for existence is to look at baseball stories and filter them correctly around dollars and cents. They do a great job too. They have yet to comment on fans losing some of the best young prospects to the minors for the sake of the almighty dollar.
Yeah, the Fan is whining. And it certainly isn't the first time. The Fan had the same whine about Matt Wieters last year at this time. But you know what? The Fan wishes just one time that a team's general manager would come right out and tell the truth instead of giving us the same old line about how they don't want to rush the talent. That is such a load of horse poo. Mr. Rizzo, the new GM of the Nationals ran out the same lines we heard last year from Baltimore as to why Stephen Strasburg is going to start in AA. Except, this time, Rizzo was more creative than his peers.
His official reason is that Strasburg has to learn how to slow down his delivery when men are on base. Strasburg tends to runs things in the stretch and he loses a couple of MPH on his fastball. There are two reasons why such a reason is stupid. First, Strasburg only allowed nine base runners in 12 innings pitched this spring. Seems to this observer to that having such a problem is a minor triviality when people aren't getting on base in the first place. It's sort of like talking about BABIP after a perfect game. The second reason it's stupid is that he can work on that just as easily on the big club as he can with the AA team. Right?
Let's talk about economics for a minute. Please understand up front that this subject isn't high on the list of talents the Fan possesses. But Strasburg is already signed for $15 million. Saving him for a year from arbitration and free agency saves you about $15 million. But according to the last estimates, a win these days for any team is worth about $1.2 million. So say sending Strasburg to the minors for six starts to save on arbitration could cost the team as much as $3.6 million if Strasburg won only half his starts. It's unlikely they will win more than one of those six games with his replacement. Now add in the 20,000 extra tickets he might sell for each start. Everybody wants to see this kid. Say half of those starts are at home, that's 60,000 extra seats for an average take of around a million dollars. Ratings would be higher during their telecasts with increased revenue for ads. So, while they will still end up ahead by sending the kid down, it's not as much as you would think.
The Pirates are doing the same thing with Pedro Alvarez. He was sent down on Friday. He hit well this spring, just like last spring and just like last year in the minors. His defense is a bit ragged, but what more is he going to learn in the minors? This is simply a financial deal and again, it deprives the fans of seeing who they really want to see.
It's not like these guys are 18 years old and you are in danger of putting them in a David Clyde type of situation. They are 21, 22 years old and played college ball. Strasburg has showed us that he is already the best pitcher the Nationals have. Alvarez is already one of the Pirates' better players. Next it will be Aroldis Chapman and Jason Heywood. You'll see. It's all about the dollars. And because it always comes down to that fact, it will always suck to be a Fan.