Cactus League Game 12: Cubs at Mariners

marc w · March 8, 2019 at 5:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Duncan Robinson, 5:40pm TV GAME woooo

I’ve been talking about the weird landscape baseball finds itself in, and how the current CBA couldn’t or didn’t foresee what Tommy Craggs calls post-competitive baseball. Craggs’ article is a wonderful summary of our current moment, one that sees the Indians both selling off pieces and also forecasted to win their division going away, for example. Or a recent Cy Young winner unsigned with opening day looming. Or the farcical stories about this year’s top prospect not being quite ready to start the season in the majors for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with service time manipulation.

This is pretty bad. Execs are forced, or force themselves, to say things they don’t believe to an audience who doesn’t believe them either. Mid-tier player who reach free agency are no longer seen as worthy additions to clubs, *including* clubs that are ostensibly in contention. I get why the Astros don’t need Denard Span or Adam Jones, but I’m not sure why a bunch of other teams don’t. The issue, as Craggs and others point out, is that teams make money for things that have nothing to do with winning games. This isn’t new, exactly. It’s been true for as long as teams have received huge, guaranteed influxes of cash in exchange for local cable rights, and the spasms of spending that often happened after deals were renegotiated. Those revenue sources haven’t dried up just yet, but for many teams, the spending has. With ticket sales shrinking as a percentage of revenue, and as teams find that revenue sharing and cable means that their overall revenue is much less sensitive to winning percentage, there’s no real need to push to improve.

I know people don’t want to read about the business of the game, but I think it’s important to understand why Justus Sheffield won’t break camp with the M’s, or why JP Crawford is likely ticketed for Tacoma, too. I’m not rooting for a strike, but I think it’s time all parties agreed that the next CBA address incentives. Having the pay structure that the game has not only hurts minor leaguers, who try to get by on subsistence wages, but it’s now clearly hurting free agents, too. The game thought parity would increase the stock of teams looking to improve, but revenue trends and player development advances mean that teams either don’t need to improve or prefer to improve with younger players. The league desperately needs to incent winning, and that means going back on a generation of effort to introduce more competitive balance. Can they do this in time for the next CBA? I don’t see why not. Fangraphs had one suggestion this week; I’m sure there’ll be more. If they don’t, I think it’s going to be hard to fight the perception that many teams – the majority, in fact – aren’t really trying to win in any kind of reasonable time frame, and that even wild card contenders are ambivalent about reaching the playoffs.

The AL is highly stratified already, and while the NL is more bunched, it has seemingly no impact on teams motivations. This long-term drive for competitive balance produces only sporadic bouts of it (as with Milwaukee’s push last year), and, of course, it hasn’t helped the M’s reach the playoffs since 2001. Let’s try something different.

Today’s game features Marco Gonzales against Cubs prospect Duncan Robinson, a former 9th-round pick out of noted baseball-factory Dartmouth. A command/control righty with a low-90s FB and a curve ball, he’s parlayed low walks and hits-allowed into a quick ascent up the ladder; he finished 2018 in AAA and hasn’t really struggled at any stop.

1: Gordon, 2B
2: Haniger, CF
3: Bruce, 1B
4: Encarnacion, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Santana, LF
7: Narvaez, C
8: Crawford, SS
9: Ichiroooo, RF
SP: Gonzales


4 Responses to “Cactus League Game 12: Cubs at Mariners”

  1. Grayfox3d on March 8th, 2019 5:45 pm

    Narvaez does not give me any confidence behind the plate… another game, another pass ball.

  2. Stevemotivateir on March 9th, 2019 1:53 pm

    What Atkins is doing is ensuring that an extension will never be possible without an incredible overpay.

    It would be nice to see an overhaul of the CBA.

  3. LongDistance on March 11th, 2019 8:56 am

    If we’re talking weirdness, and fan incentives, how are teams going to project acquisitions if the mound is moved back by two feet?

  4. Stevemotivateir on March 11th, 2019 6:38 pm

    Seager’s injury might be a blessing in disguise. Healy isn’t going to offer better defense, but if he gets off to a hot start at the plate, he could be moved fairly quick. He was probably ticketed for Tacoma otherwise and Seager isn’t going anywhere, regardless.

    If all the veterans with question marks stink it up, and prospects/rookies struggle upon their promotions, what might Seattle’s record look like when it’s all said and done? 65 wins? I’m morbidly curious.

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