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The Jays head to Baltimore off a four game sweep of the Royals. Baltimore meanwhile is only a game behind Toronto for the division lead, despite dropping two of three to the Angels over the weekend. I spent the last Advance Scout going on about how the Jays always kill the Orioles, and the Jays were subsequently lucky to escape with one W, so perhaps some hubris is in order this time.

In any case, I'll do some brief housekeeping before going out strong on some word play. You may have noticed that we aren't doing This Day in Baseball or Game Recaps - the Advance Scout has sort of taken the place of each of these things, so please do feel free to discuss all the games in a series, or other random baseball related events, in these Advance Scout threads, even if they are up to four days old. We basically decided to put more effort into one thread once every three days rather than less effort into three daily threads. Everyone seems to have picked up on this, so, great! And now to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before: The Advance Scout!



So uh it turns out the Orioles are using the exact same pitchers as they did a ten days ago when they faced the Jays. So lets mix things up a bit and look at who the Jays are throwing out there.

Tuesday - Henderson Alvarez vs. Tommy Hunter


After allowing 21 home runs in 379.2 minor league innings Henderson Alvarez has now surrendered 12 gopher balls in 83 big league frames. So, that's a pretty big difference. The thing is, Alvarez isn't getting any fewer ground balls now - his major league mark is 55.1%, which would have been one of the ten best in the majors in each of the last two seasons (and basically identical to Ricky Romero). 17.1% of the fly balls he's given up have left the yard, as opposed to the standard 11% (and a much more miniscule rate when he was in the minors). I don't really see any reason why this wouldn't eventually stabilize. Home runs aside, Alvarez hasn't been especially sharp to start the season. Though he's retained his pinpoint control, walking only four batters in 19.1 innings (though he's hit three), Hendy has only whiffed 8. This number isn't quite as bad as it first appears, since Alvarez allows fewer baserunners than the average pitcher (and thus has fewer opportunities to strike guys out), but it's still only 10% of the batters he faces, when something closer to 20% would be a better number.

Still, there aren't physical reasons for concern. Alvarez is still dialing it up to 97, and his average four-seam fastball velocity in his last start was 94 MPH, although that velocity starts to taper off pretty quickly as Alvarez progresses through the order. From this untrained eye it seems Alvarez relies heavily on his hard sinking fastball, which isn't a swing and miss pitch, and he can't punch anyone out with his slider. He does possess a good change up at least, but at a certain point he is going to need to strike out more guys.


Wednesday - Kyle Drabek vs. Jason Hammel

Drabek has been the pleasant surprise of the Jays staff this year, going at least five innings in every start while allowing 2 or fewer runs. In his start against the Royals he lost his release point and ended up walking six batters, but whereas last year he would have fallen apart, this year he battled through (albeit with a lot of help from his defense - that triple play helped). Sample size caveats apply, but so far Drabek has managed to keep the ball on the ground (25/14 GB/FB ratio) more than 2012 (52% vs. 44%) while also allowing fewer line drives. He's also striking out more batters (20.6% vs. 14%) and walking fewer (13.7% v. 15.1%). Drabek has always had the stuff - he's still hitting 94-95 consistently, - but it seems as if, at least so far, he's been able to better harness it.

Also, apropos of, well, this, the Jays are really assembling a staff of hard throwers. Drabek, Alvarez and Morrow all rank in the top-25 of average fastball variety, while Ricky Romero is hardly a slouch, especially as a lefty. Hutchison isn't in that league (at least I thought so - see below), but McGowan obviously threw hard, and Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard are both noted for their velocity.

Thursday - Drew Hutchison v. Brian Matusz

Despite whatever Mike Wilner says, Drew Hutchison did not acquit himself particularly well in his major league debut, especially facing a lineup that had Yuniesky Betancourt leading off. He allowed 12 baserunners in 5.1 innings, had trouble keeping the ball down in the zone, and subsequently gave up two well hit home runs. He was also fortunate that the Jays turned two double plays behind him, especially after the first four batters in the fifth reached (the sixth homered). He also had a significant amount of trouble locating his fastball, throwing only 55% of his four-seamers and 48% of his two-seamers for strikes (40 out of 77 overall). The Jays also sent Hutchison back out for the 6th somewhat inexplicably; he retired the first batter he faced before allowing the next two to reach before giving way to Darren Oliver.



Anyway, this is not to say things were all bad. Hutchison's fastball ran up to 94 on occasion, according to Brooks, and averaged around 92. Given that he supposedly normally works around 90, that his fastball played up isn't a bad thing (although this could certainly be related to the vagaries of one radar gun). When one adds the caveat that this was Hutchison's first major league start, at 21, after 6 starts above A+, it does take on a certain level of impressiveness.  Unless Hutchison is able to command and locate his fastball he's going to be back in New Hampshire before too long though.

The Lineup

The Orioles will probably still roll thusly - Mark Reynolds seems to have been dropped a spot in the order, perhaps because he is 6/48.

Nolan Reimold/Endy Chavez LF
JJ Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Wilson Betemit/Nick Johnson DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B

Dontrelle Willis walked out on the Orioles AAA affiliate because he didn't like being used in relief. The Orioles don't want to release him though, and still want him. I am not sure who to make fun of here, I'll be honest, but it feels like it could be everyone involved... Nolan Reimold has 1 walk and 11 strikeouts in 47 PA. The other 35 at bats have resulted in 17 hits, 5 of which have gone over the fence. Pretty good!... This article seems to be very high on Chris Davis for hitting .294 with no walks, little power, lots of strikeouts and a .400 BABIP. Would that it were so easy... The Orioles are in the middle of the pack in terms of DRS (defensive runs saved) and UZR (ultimate zone rating). Despite this they have allowed 12 unearned runs, most in the majors. The Jays do okay in UZR but actually lead the league by about a country mile in DRS (well, they rate twice as well as the fourth best team in any case). Brett Lawrie, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar do the heavy lifting and rate very well in both metrics; Colby Rasmus also comes out well. Eric Thames and to a much lesser extent Adam Lind are the only players that really grade out below average so far (although Jose Bautista really isn't a great right fielder). To me this makes perfect sense, as the Jays infield defense has been (subjectively) spectacular, while anything hit to the corners is often an adventure. I will also mention at this point that Thames still looks like a butcher out there, and that I don't think Rajai Davis grades out that well in left; people challenge him at second and he is basically incapable of doing anything about it with his rather popgun arm, prodigious speed notwithstanding... The Orioles bullpen, with the exception of, you guessed it, Kevin Gregg, has been extremely good, surrendering 13 earned runs in 51.2 innings (5 of those were Gregg's, in 4.2 innings). Also, if you didn't know, Matt Wieters is real good.


Infirmary: Zach Britton, SP (shoulder), Brian Roberts, 2B (Concussion), Taylor Teagarden, C (lower back), and Tsuyoshi Wada, SP (left elbow) are all still on the 15-day DL. Teagarden could be back by the end of the month, but things seem to have taken a turn for the worse for Wada; he's out indefinitely. Roberts hasn't played since May of last year, but a minor league rehab assignment seems in the offing, hopefully soon. Britton might be back in May.

Song to Advance Scout By: Superstition would seem to dictate that I stick with MSTRKRFT since they were last Scout's song and the Jays swept the Royals. So, please listen to Heartbreaker, which I believe also samples a John Legend song. That is two songs for the price of... well, free. It is very smooth, like a nice scotch.

Chart: Everyone's 2012 except for Hutch; those are his AA numbers. All data from Fangraphs.

Advance Scout: Orioles, April 24-26 | 177 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
zeppelinkm - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#255036) #

Is Reimold smoke and mirrors? Or is he for real this year?

Betemit can hit righties but not lefties. How the O's use him going forward would be interesting. Reynolds OPS is 100 points higher against lefties than righties with the majority of that difference being OBP.

AWeb - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 01:41 PM EDT (#255037) #

I hope Hutchison was just overthrowing in his first start, which might account for the bad location and surprising velocity. Being amped up at age 21 in a MLB debut surely isn't surprising, and it's good to know that an extra few mph are possible. Does the extra 2mph make him a better prospect, if he can do it again?

The pitching in general has been remarkably adept at stranding runners and inducing double plays (optimistic view); or it has been very lucky and is due for a fall (pessimistic view). The defense on the infield does appear to be elite this year, but I'm thinking Romero, Morrow, and Alvarez start striking out guys a lot more (just get closer to career norms). Small sample flukes can happen to strikeout rates for pitchers too.

 

92-93 - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#255039) #
The KC gun is notorious for being hot. Last year guys were clocked at 102-103, and earlier this year Duffy sat 98-100.
TJ Caino - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#255040) #
Great choice for the song -- one of my faves!

Is it a sample? Or a collaboration?
See-Hech-In-July - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:16 PM EDT (#255041) #
Toronto took 19 out of 22 home games against the Orioles before the last home stand so if law of averages does work, bad breaks due against the Jays.

Seems like Alvarez and Morrow are not pitching inside enough to claim the inside of the plate. The batters seem to comfortable up there, just waiting to tee off on a pitching miscue.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#255043) #
Pitch F/X had Hutch topping out at 94 and averaging 92.4 too, and I don't think that's related to the stadium gun at all.

Ricky's and Morrow's stadium gun velos this series seemed normal too.
greenfrog - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:20 PM EDT (#255044) #
It will be interesting eventually to look at the name-brand SPs that were traded/signed in the off-season: Darvish, Latos, Pineda, Gonzalez, Cahill, Jackson, Kuroda, Buehrle, to name several.

A lot of them have struggled or been inconsistent (and Pineda is headed for another MRI - Cashman can't be happy about that deal at the moment). Gonzalez, Jackson and Buehrle have done well so far. Right now AA is looking pretty good for sitting tight, although Gio could be a monster if he can maintain his current ratios.
Mike Green - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#255045) #
Is Reimold for real this year?

He is hitting .370 while walking once and striking out 11 times in 11 games.  This isn't sustainable in the least.  If he has a good year and he cuts down the Ks, he might hit .300 and with his typical strike zone judgment and slight improvements in power, he would be "for real". 



hypobole - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 02:29 PM EDT (#255046) #
I don't know much about Duquette, but from what I've heard, he seems to be acting much like his reputation. He's been touted as fairly astute in building ball teams and now with the O's he seems to have made some good baseball moves in shoring up his pitching staff. I also was impressed with his hiring of Rick Peterson to help oversee the development of their young pitchers, something that seemed to have been sorely lacking with the O's.

On the other his alleged abrasiveness and lack of people skills seems to be showing up as well, first with the Korean fiasco and now with the Dontrelle Willis dispute.

Does this seem to be his MO, or am I off base here?
Anders - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 03:23 PM EDT (#255047) #
Does this seem to be his MO, or am I off base here?

To be fair, this Willis thing seems to be partly Willis' fault - apparently they told him they wanted him to relieve. With that being said, Duquette was out of baseball for a while, and it doesn't seem he (and to be fair this might be Peter Angelos to a large degree) is off to a great start.

John Northey - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 03:45 PM EDT (#255048) #
That Pineda trade at this point isn't looking good for either team. Pineda being hurt and Montero hitting 241/259/370 for a 629 OPS 77 OPS+.

Geez, Seattle has a really bad offense. Team OPS+ is 75 right now. Their #1 catcher has a 3 OPS+, at 1B Smoak has a 59 and their top guy (PA) off the bench is at 10. Ick. At least King Felix is off to a good start 143 ERA+ and Vargas and Beaven are also over 120 in the rotation.

FYI: JPA is up to 43 now after being at 1 for OPS+ when he was called out for not hitting early on.
Ron - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 04:02 PM EDT (#255049) #
I've watched every game this season and I have no idea why the Jays are 10-6:

- the starting pitching has been mediocre
- the bullpen has been shaky
- the pitching staff is giving up walks and HR's like candy on Halloween
- outside of Bautista and Johnson, nobody walks
- the team only has 2 starters slugging over .450
- almost half of the starting batting lineup have been a complete sinkhole at the plate(Lind/Thames/Escobar/Arencibia)

Is the 10-6 record because of a weak schedule? Good hitting with runners in scoring position? Strong up the middle defence from Escobar/Johnson/Rasmus? I don't feel like I've been watching a 10-6 team this year.


Anders - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#255050) #
FYI Reimold is out tonight with neck spasms; Chavez should lead off. Unclear as to his availability for the rest of the series.
TJ Caino - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 04:39 PM EDT (#255051) #
"Is the 10-6 record because of a weak schedule? Good hitting with runners in scoring position? Strong up the middle defence from Escobar/Johnson/Rasmus? I don't feel like I've been watching a 10-6 team this year."

Well, it was a .500 team until it faced KC.
greenfrog - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#255052) #
It's true that Montero is off to a slow start. But at least he's healthy. I think having the player you acquired turn out to be injured would be more annoying (especially where he is a SP and has a shoulder injury preventing him from even throwing off a mound). Particularly after the Pavano debacle of a few years ago.

92-93 - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 04:59 PM EDT (#255054) #
Sergio Sirotka.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#255055) #
"the starting pitching has been mediocre"

well, not really.

2 guys have been really good - Romero (3.29era), Drabek (2.00era), and they've gone 7-0 in the games they've started.

1 guy has been mediocre - Morrow (3.71era) - and they've gone 2-2 in his starts.

The other 3 guys have been poor - Alvarez (4.66), Carreno (6.00) and Hutch (8.44) - and they've gone 1-4 in their starts.



"outside of Bautista and Johnson, nobody walks"

The Jays are 4th in the AL in BB% at 9.4%.

Johnson and Bautista don't just walk, they walk one helluva lot, with both over 18%.

But it's not just them, the 4 bench guys have combined for a very good 10% bb rate so far, while all of Lind, EE, Rasmus, Thames, and Escobar have walked at a decent to solid rate (between 6-9%).

The only guys who aren't walking are Lawrie (4.3%) and JPA (3.7%).

they're also leading the AL (by a longshot) in pitches per plate appearance, at 4.05, which is way up from last year's 13th AL ranked 3.74, and which has allowed them to get deep into other teams' bullpens on a consistent basis.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#255056) #
"Well, it was a .500 team until it faced KC."

...and a .555 team until it faced TB.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:12 PM EDT (#255057) #
Trivia question that I don't know the answer to: Is this the youngest trio of starters the Jays have ever put out there for a full series?

Drabek 24yrs, 4mos
Alvarez 22yrs, 0mos
Hutchison 21yrs, 8mos
greenfrog - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#255058) #
I think the Jays have played OK (though not great - the team OPS is 731 with a nearly identical 733 OPS against). The offence has received a big boost from EE (923 OPS), KJ (823 OPS) and Rasmus (795 OPS), while several key players have been putrid (Lind, Thames, Escobar, Arencibia) and Bautista and Lawrie have yet to really get going. The infield and CF defence appears to have been excellent. The starting pitching hasn't been scintillating but there have been a number of respectable starts (and a few duds) up and down the rotation. Perez has been brilliant out of the bullpen.

To me it looks as though the team has caught some breaks with timely hitting on offense and untimely hitting by opponents (for example, in the last series the Royals could not buy a hit with runners in scoring position). No reason the team can't continue to put together a strong record in April but they do need to pick it up in a couple of categories. First base and LF remain pretty big question marks.
scottt - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#255059) #
In truth, Alvarez had 2 good starts and 1 bad one and it's the pen that took the first 2 losses.
bpoz - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 05:52 PM EDT (#255060) #
10-6 is wonderful & it counts.

Other things that may be or are wonderful:
1)Can we rank our defense very high? How high & is it for real? Let rank them again after 60 games. Most likely KJ is gone after 2012 and by 100 games we will know him more accurately.
2) The team is very young.
3) Vizquel, Oliver & Cordero have a long history of personal success IMO and that should be helpful to our youth.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 06:51 PM EDT (#255062) #

What does a 10-6 record mean?   And along comes someone to piddle on someone else's parade.   Fine, that is life.

- the starting pitching has be mediocre

I see 5 bad starts (4+ ER) so far this season: one win, two blown saves, and three sucky performances.   And what does this say http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1091208 ?   To call this mediocre means you don't watch this Team much, especially last season.

- the bullpen has been shaky

You weren't watching last years 7-9 Team through 16 games.

-the pitching staff has given up walks and HRs like candy on Hallowe'en

I like Hallowe`en.   It seems a lot of other Teams do too.

I can go on but doing this is boring.  10 wins thus far in April, means the fewer wins needed the rest of the year.   I think this team can contend.   I look at what has gone wrong, and understand improvement is normal.   The postseason will return to Toronto.

 

Ron - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#255063) #
I've looked at most of the numbers (traditional and sabermetrics) and I stand by my comments. The 10-6 record feels a little bit fluky to me.
92-93 - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#255064) #
The Blue Jays starting staff has a -0.1 fWAR thus far this year.
ayjackson - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:26 PM EDT (#255065) #
Some nice sliders that inning (after a couple early floaters).
smcs - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:31 PM EDT (#255066) #
I'm not sure if this is repeatable, or even a skill of any kind, but the Jays have avoided giving up the big inning. They've been bad in the 9th, 5th and 2nd inning, but really good in the rest. They've given up just 1 run all season in the 7th inning and 1 all season in the 3rd. In total, they've given up more than 2 runs in an inning 6 times all season, and 2 of those were the 9th when the game was already out of hand. It could just be dumb luck -- as I'm typing this, Alvarez loaded the bases with 0 out and escaped with just 1 run given up in the 1st -- or it could be something to follow.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:42 PM EDT (#255067) #
The Jays are ranking very well in both defense and baserunning this year, according to fangraphs, which would help explain why they might be better than their straight up hitting/pitching performances might indicate.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 07:53 PM EDT (#255068) #

smcs  

Good catch.   Is it possible Toronto`s pitching has learned "the lesson" that most pitchers never learn: Bad Innings happen?  Limit the damage and get on with the game.

smcs - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 08:19 PM EDT (#255069) #
Good catch. Is it possible Toronto`s pitching has learned "the lesson" that most pitchers never learn: Bad Innings happen? Limit the damage and get on with the game.

Triple plays are a pitcher's best friend.

In all likelihood, it's dumb luck that'll even out over time. The Jays also have turned a league-leading 26 double plays, which could mean they are a good fielding team, or that the pitchers have put lots of guys on and gotten lucky.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 08:24 PM EDT (#255070) #
the fact that the Jays' pitchers have the highest collective Groundball percentage by a country mile probably helps, too.
greenfrog - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 08:56 PM EDT (#255071) #
Just watched the highlight of Wieters's home run in the 4th: Thames giveth and he taketh away.
Mike Green - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#255072) #
It wasn't a great piece of fielding but it also wasn't an Alex Rios bobble it over the fence job either. 
scottt - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 09:48 PM EDT (#255073) #
Also, Alvarez was not bad and Janssen seems ok.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 10:49 PM EDT (#255074) #

Five Hits (Johnson 2, Thames 2, Lawrie 1), four Walks (Johnson 1, Lawrie 1, Lind 1, Mathis 1) and 7 LOB  is usually enough for a win, except today.  

The only Stadium without natural grass, and possessing a concrete floor; a fixed rate of 5 years for contracts is going to bite Beeston in the butt.   Unless you grossly overpay in dollars and years, top Free Agents will not come here.   Unless your willing to trade these precious prospects, you'll never be able to acquire Top Talent in trades. 

Without Bautista hitting well and Lind struggling as well, Encarnacion going for a 0-for is not going to cut it.

adrianveidt - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 11:04 PM EDT (#255075) #
Could somebody please get Thames out of left field please?
Worst. Defense. Ever.
uglyone - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 11:04 PM EDT (#255076) #
Here are the 5 worst full-time (i.e. qualified) position players since 2010, by fWAR:

144) R.Theriot: 1146pa, 0.5war
145) R.Ibanez: 1254pa, 0.2war
146) O.Cabrera: 1014pa, 0.2war
147) A.Lind: 1214pa, -0.3war
148) C.Figgins: 1090pa, -0.5war

only TWO negative-value players in all of baseballhave been allowed to accumulate enough plate appearances since 2010 to "qualify" for statistical leader boards aka only TWO negative-value players since 2010 have been allowed to keep full-time jobs.

One of them is Adam Lind.

And he not only keeps his fulltime job, but he gets slotted right in the heart of the order every game.
Subversive - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 11:31 PM EDT (#255077) #
Why can't they replace the turf with that simulated grass everyone uses now? Seems like it would be a relatively modest investment as compared to the wear and tear (and man games lost) on players. Admittedly I haven't even glanced at any numbers regarding this, so maybe it's a non factor, but if it impacts perception of free agents, seems like it would be worthwhile.
sam - Tuesday, April 24 2012 @ 11:57 PM EDT (#255078) #
This team needs a new first basemen and LH hitting four hitter so badly it hurts. If you have that four as a lefty, the lineup is pretty difficult to pitch around. But then you look at tonight and it's not so difficult for the opposition to get good match-ups.

I'm actually a little mad that the Jays have stuck with Adam Lind this long. It's been two full seasons since he's experienced any real success at the ML level and he's into his third now of being below average at that position. It's frustrating because it seems like there's some direction or plan with basically every other position on the diamond, and then one so important production wise they've presented no clear plan going forward. Adam Lind is clearly not the player he was three years ago and so long as he's in the lineup this team is not going to be able to compete with some of the better teams in the league.

I think there's potential to this season and they clearly have some of the pieces in place that are needed to compete long term. I'd like them to acquire somebody like Brandon Belt or Ike Davis, who are by no means proven commodities, but would present direction and I think at this point a tangible improvement.

I really don't think calling Travis Snider up to play LF and DHing Thames and moving Edwin to 1B is the option either. Edwin is still your four hitter and the guy you're asking to drive in 100+ runs. I think that may be asking too much of him. Eric Thames is then your DH and I'm not really sure that's a wise thing to do so early in his career. I think everyone on this team has a really good niche right now and Edwin's is best in the five hole.

Free Brandon Belt
Petey Baseball - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:53 AM EDT (#255079) #
Sam, I think your scorn should be leveled at Carlos Beltran for not wanting to play on turf or DH.  It's well known the Jays offered the most money to Beltran and he flat out refused to come here. I don't think the Jays sticking with Lind as everyday fixture would have happened had they been able to add another bat in the off-season. 

The worst of it is; look at how Beltran is doing in St. Louis so far. (.368 OBP with 5 HR). That would look pretty terrific sandwiched between EE and Bautista. 



JB21 - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 07:41 AM EDT (#255082) #
Adam Lind should never ever be in the lineup versus leftys. His career splits versus rightys are:

.282/.334 /.506

Ben Francisco needs to be in the lineup vs. leftys.
Sister - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:06 AM EDT (#255083) #
I'm really starting to get angry about the Jays, both off-field in terms of the inability to bring in a legit bat and starting pitcher in the off season, and now on the field as well. How Lind remains in the lineup is a mystery, but also a mystery to me is:

-why we have to carry such a big bullpen when pitchers are going 7-10 days between outings.
-why Farrell can be quite progressive in using defensive shifts but won't platoon hitters based on absurd career splits

The season is far more frustrating already than I had anticipated. Hopefully some things get straightened out and our "pop gun" offense gets going.

MatO - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#255084) #

Why can't they replace the turf with that simulated grass everyone uses now?

Everyone in baseball is using real grass.  Tampa and Toronto excepted.  The differences in artificial turf these days I think is purely cosmetic.  They changed to this one because it looks a bit nicer and doesn't have the seams the previous one had.  Players dislike all phony turfs.

MatO - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 09:54 AM EDT (#255085) #
I don't know what this means but I saw a car full of teenage boys go by me yesterday with a crisp new Blue Jay flag flying from one of the side windows.  You know those flags that people fly during the World Cup or when the Leafs make the playoffs (ha ha).
greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 09:58 AM EDT (#255086) #
Being 10-7 is nice, but the Jays have a soft schedule early on. The team's rivals are going to get their chance to beat up on Cleveland, Baltimore and KC too. The Jays need to keep the pressure on.

Realistically, I think we should be happy about the rapid overhaul of the Jays over the last few seasons. AA has proved adept at moving underperforming players (Wells, Hill), although Lind may be a tough player to trade if he continues his decline. I have no doubt that AA is monitoring the market closely for an offensive upgrade, but he's not going to make a move just for the sake of making a move - and it takes two to tango (I'm not sure there will be a lot of options before July).

Outstanding start by Darvish against the Yankees last night. That's the kind of performance many of us had been expecting from him. Given the financial outlay, he obviously carries a fair bit of risk, but he was a bold acquisition that could really pay off.
uglyone - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#255087) #
well, cleveland is 9-6 and baltimore is 10-7, so "soft" is relative.
uglyone - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#255088) #
As for Lind, they shouldn't be worried about trading him, they should just waive him, and the approx $13m they have left committed to him.

Worrying about an "upgrade" shouldn't be part of the discussion. Snider is likely an upgrade himself, as most anyone would be.

We go with this lineup, then if we need to upgrade we upgrade:

1) SS Escobar
2) 2B Johnson
3) RF Bautista
4) 1B Encarnacion
5) CF Rasmus
6) 3B Lawrie
7) DH Thames / Francisco
8) C Arencibia
9) LF Snider / Davis

That's likely a better lineup offensively and defensively (and baserunning too) right off the bat.

Then you hope that 1 or 2 of the young bats in the 5-9 slots turn themselves into legit middle of the order bats. Or go outside the org and try to find one.

either way, Lind losing his job shouldn't be dependant on us finding a replacement first.
John Northey - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#255089) #
I've been wondering if the Jays might look at going to a 6 man bullpen soon. Still, regardless the following could be done immediately...

1B: Lind/Encarnacion
DH: Encarnacion/Francisco
LF: Thames/Davis

Encarnacion is an everyday player that way, thus Lind/Francisco platoon. You could adjust by putting Thames in the DH role vs LH pitchers so he gets a 'fielding rest' and Davis or Francisco can be put in. Of course, first you have to convince the manager it is a good idea.

If they go to a 6 man pen then another infielder could be carried (say, Chris Woodward for example) thus pinch running for Lind or a catcher can be done with less fear of being caught short on the bench. Or you could be bold and call up Snider then do...
1B: Lind/Encarnacion
DH: Thames/Francisco
LF: Snider/Davis
Where Davis & Francisco could be left on the bench (as could Lind) if they don't produce or the other platoon half produces really well.

Oh for the Bobby Cox days where platoons were common.
greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#255090) #
Interestingly, Aaron Hill has posted (in relatively small sample sizes totalling 215 PA) OPS+'s of 137 and 119 in Arizona. The Johnson-Hill trade has no doubt been a success so far from the D-Backs' perspective.

Perhaps some team will see Lind as a similar reclamation project. One advantage for the Jays to holding on to him until July is that (1) he might rebound somewhat (the season is still very young); and (2) the amount remaining on his contract will decrease, potentially making him more palatable to other teams (especially if the Jays kick in some dough).
baagcur - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:49 AM EDT (#255091) #
Sam, I think your scorn should be leveled at Carlos Beltran for not wanting to play on turf or DH

I'm assuming this is sarcasm. Anyways, Beltran should be applauded for taking less money in order that he can play what he wants where he wants. Looks like the right decision so far stats wise

John Northey - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#255092) #
Beltran is a sign of the issues the Jays do hit with free agents. The trick is to find ways to remove as many issues as possible since a big one, the fact Canada is a different country, cannot be changed. A very good atmosphere for players is a big help - I'm sure other players have noticed how Escobar and Rasmus are both welcomed here despite issues in two fair sized markets (Atlanta & St Louis respectively). Also how Hill & McDonald both spoke highly of the Jays after being traded and how Halladay seems to be a good spokesperson for the area still. Bringing in Alomar and other ex-Jays who others might respect (HOF'ers always would get some from fellow players) helps as well.

If they could find a practical way to have real grass in the dome that would also be a big help.
92-93 - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#255094) #
There's no reason to assume the Jays were ever in on Beltran.
Moe - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#255096) #
There's no reason to assume the Jays were ever in on Beltran.

There actually were a lot of stories about it at the time and AA himself said at a season ticket holder event that the Jays lost out on someone because of the turf. Yes, we have no proof but to say there is no reason at all is just the usual negative "they'll never spend money" attitude.


Moe - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#255097) #
If they could find a practical way to have real grass in the dome that would also be a big help.

I have no idea where I read/heard that but a few years ago there was a discussion on this issue and someone said that it's basically impossible since there is stuff (cables etc.) under the concrete. So even now we have a much better technology to grow grass indoors the 25 years ago, it can not be changed for technical reasons.


92-93 - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:09 PM EDT (#255098) #
There were lots of stories about the Jays winning a bid on Darvish, when in reality AA hinted their bid was nowhere close.

I was at the State of the Franchise, and was amused by the apparently definitive takeaway that the Jays missed out on Beltran.
greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:37 PM EDT (#255101) #
To be fair, the Wieters HR did not look like an easy play. The ball was hit hard and Thames had to get to the corner and react quickly. Unfortunately, it was a turning point in the game. Preventing the HR would have given the Jays roughly a 50-50 shot of winning (based on the subsequent lack of scoring).
Moe - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#255103) #
and was amused by the apparently definitive takeaway that the Jays missed out on Beltran.

I didn't say they definitively missed out. But there is no reason to say "no reason" at all to even think about loosing out on Beltran.


92-93 - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#255104) #
I was responding originally to this comment:

"It's well known the Jays offered the most money to Beltran and he flat out refused to come here."
uglyone - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#255105) #
"Carlos Beltran, great question. Only two years," Anthopoulos said. "I know that we were linked to him and so on, but with a lot of players, at times, some of them don't want to play on turf at no matter what money. Some of them don't want to DH at no matter what money, and some of them have health concerns from a medical staff that the club may feel they have to DH, and if they have to DH they're unwilling to sign no matter what the dollars are, considering they've made a lot of money in their career. And some don't want to change leagues, going from the National League to the American League, even if you offer them more years and more money. At that point, I don't know what you can do, other than having taken that shot."

and in response to a later question:

"There [were] two free agents that we offered more years and more dollars to, and we ultimately, for other reasons, couldn't sign the players," he said.

and later Beeston said:

In a separate scrum, club president Paul Beeston said some players simply "don't want to play on turf."

greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 01:04 PM EDT (#255107) #
Apparently Carlos Pena was happy to return to TB to play on turf. I wonder if AA made a pitch for him? He's sort of like KJ, in that he's valuable despite a low BA (ie, because of his power and tendency to walk). Pena would have been a nice fit in the middle of the Jays' lineup and the infield defence would have been rock solid all around.

Lind = career OPS+ 105 (91 from 2010-12) / poor defender

Pena = career OPS+ 125 (118 from 2010-12) / very good defender


92-93 - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 01:30 PM EDT (#255108) #
Suggestions for players like Pena & Edwin Jackson were met with heavy resistance this winter from the posters who cared more about seeing what the Jays have in Player X than winning in 2012.
John Northey - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#255109) #
OK - this is a weird year.

AL East standings: 4 teams tied for 1st (10-7 each), Boston 3 1/2 back. AL Central has 3 teams tied for 1st (ChiSox, Cleveland, Tigers) while every other division has at least a 2 game lead.

The Padres are the 'no hope' team already at 8 games out. Angels are doing themselves no favours being 7 1/2 out already as well while KC is 7 out. Ugh.
zeppelinkm - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 02:01 PM EDT (#255110) #

Pujols currently has an OPS of .617. That's not helping any.

greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#255111) #
The Angels have to be a bit nervous about that $240M contract. What if Pujols is already in significant decline? It's a scary thought.

To be fair to AA, cutting bait on Lind and signing Pena would have been a potentially expensive gamble. The Jays probably would have had to cover some or all of Lind's remaining guaranteed money ($12M including 2012/13 salaries plus 2014 buyout) and pay Pena at least $7.5M, for a total of up to about $20M. AA would have had minimal leverage in trading Lind after signing Pena. And the team still wouldn't have had a 1B option for 2013.
dan gordon - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 02:59 PM EDT (#255112) #
The Angels have some serious contract issues.  In addition to Pujols, they're paying Wells $21 million, Hunter $18 million and Abreu $9 million.  Each of them currently has an OPS below .700.  Their team payroll is $150 million and they're 6-11.  They can't be a happy bunch.
greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#255114) #
Pineda labrum tear. Surgery Tuesday. Ouch.

https://twitter.com/#!/BloggingBombers/status/195253319915147264
Mike Green - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 06:06 PM EDT (#255115) #
Interesting batting order for tonight's game- Johnson, Bautista, Lind, Thames in order.  I don't have a concern about the lefties hitting back-to-back, but it does run counter to some of the explanations proffered for batting order decisions.  The main thing though is not the batting order decision, but Lind starting at all against a left-handed pitcher. 
Chuck - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#255116) #

The main thing though is not the batting order decision, but Lind starting at all against a left-handed pitcher. 

Is it not the RHP Hammel going tonight? Or were you talking in general?

 

Mike Green - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#255117) #
In general.   Lind batting cleanup against a left-handed pitcher would have had me bent severely out of shape.
smcs - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#255118) #
So if Johnson leads off the 7th or 8th inning, the Orioles will go to their lefty, and then intentionally walk Bautista, right?
Magpie - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 07:55 PM EDT (#255119) #
your scorn should be leveled at Carlos Beltran for not wanting to play on turf or DH.

I dunno. If I'd lost a big chunk of two seasons and needed surgery to address an arthritic condition in my knee, I might want to give artificial turf a pass myself.
greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#255120) #
"Adam Lind should never ever be in the lineup versus leftys. His career splits versus rightys are: .282/.334/.506"

I would be interested in knowing what his split against RHPs is in the last three years (2010-12). It can't be very good.
grjas - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:44 PM EDT (#255121) #
Nothing against pujols but i hope he falls flat on his face. His and fielders contracts are ludicrous and drive up the market from both a term and price perspective. Throw in the likes of wells and rios and hopefully smarter heads will prevail. If not, you know who will pay the price (hint- it ain't the owners)
smcs - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#255122) #
Lind 2010-2012

vs. RHP: .264/.316/.484
vs. LHP: .173/.215/.266
Chuck - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:52 PM EDT (#255123) #

I would be interested in knowing what his split against RHPs is in the last three years (2010-12).

Per baseball-reference.com, Lind vs RHP:

2010: 275/327/502, 829 OPS
2011: 253/303/468, 771 OPS
2012: 244/326/439, 765 OPS

 

Chuck - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 08:57 PM EDT (#255124) #

If not, you know who will pay the price (hint- it ain't the owners)

I think you've got cause and effect reversed. Ticket prices are set based on what the market will bear. Salaries are then established based on revenues, actual or anticipated.

Tickets for major US college sports are not free despite the athletes not being paid.

 

greenfrog - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 09:51 PM EDT (#255126) #
That was one of the crappiest games of the year. Hammel pitched well, but in general the Jays hitters had horridly hacktastic ABs. Frasor had a pretty weak inning. And did EE just injure his ankle? Sigh.

Two positives, though: Drabek pitched pretty well (he's doing so much better than last year) and Crawford had a good outing.
grjas - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:01 PM EDT (#255127) #
I think you've got cause and effect reversed. Ticket prices are set based on what the market will bear. Salaries are then established based on revenues, actual or anticipated.

I wish. This is not an efficient market; it is a monopoly. Prices won't rise forever, but...
smcs - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:15 PM EDT (#255128) #
The Jays are averaging more than 4 double plays turned per game this year. That's ridiculous.
smcs - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#255129) #
Wait... I take back what I just said. Fangraphs' double plays stat adds together DPs started, DPs turned and DPs finished. The Jays have 31 thus far. Which is still a lot.
Original Ryan - Wednesday, April 25 2012 @ 11:12 PM EDT (#255130) #
I wish. This is not an efficient market; it is a monopoly. Prices won't rise forever, but...

It's far from a monopoly. Baseball competes with other forms of entertainment. If ticket prices aren't reflective of what people are willing to pay, those people will find substitutes (of which there are many).

Ticket prices are set at levels designed to maximize revenues for the team. Player salaries aren't part of the equation. If owners routinely charged less than what the market could bear (which is what you're implying), they'd be lousy business people.

katman - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:53 AM EDT (#255132) #
Lind's bat is leading me to believe that the odds of fixing his hitting are trending to zero.

But I'll give him this - the guy I'm seeing is no longer a minus defender, and may ion fact be a plus one.

EE should be a plus 1B, but when put there he hasn't looked good. EE instead of Lind, at this point, looks like a hitting for defense trade. And since playing a position seems to hurt EE's hitting, it may end up hurting overall team offense, too.

I'd rather send Thames down, have him play 1st in AAA to see if that's an option, and call Snider up. That will hurt, because Thames is hitting well, but outfield defense will improve, and it could give an option that solves the longer-term problem at 1st.
Moe - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:07 AM EDT (#255133) #
Ticket prices are set at levels designed to maximize revenues for the team. Player salaries aren't part of the equation. If owners routinely charged less than what the market could bear (which is what you're implying), they'd be lousy business people.

Exactly! I can't stand the myth that greedy, high-paid players cause high ticket prices. It's the other way around. Owners maximize revenue and set ticket prices accordingly. Mostly top down -- make sure you sell all the expensive seats and if it leads to a few cheap ones are unsold, that's ok.

TV revenue and selling all these tickets then leads to a flood of cash that teams use to buy players. If all teams are flush with cash, it drives up salaries. In some sports very openly because of an explicitly set revenue sharing rule (e.g. basketball's last lock-out was all about that share) but even sports without such a rule (e.g. baseball) competition among teams for talent has that effect. Owners realize that a better team means more revenue so there is an optimal amount spent on wins -- the point where the marginal cost of a win (from paying for better players) equals the marginal revenue of a win (increase in TV money and attendance from fielding a better team) . Revenue drives salaries, not the other way around. Owners like you to believe otherwise and sometime sports writers repeat that line but it doesn't make it true.

In fact, if it was the other way around, why would you need revenue sharing rules? These rules are designed to tie owners hands and prevent them from doing something stupid, like signing a 32 year old player to 7+ year contract. If the "players drive ticket prices" story were true, we should see a decrease in ticket prices in basketball but we don't. 

John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:15 AM EDT (#255134) #
Right now the Jays bats are pathetic.
Rank by OPS+...
Mathis 210 (14 PA)
Encarnacion 125
Johnson 118 (lucky he couldn't get a good offer)
Francisco 107 (11 PA)
----league average hitter----
Thames 99
Lawrie 98
Bautista 94
Rasmus 89
Davis 80
Lind 75
Escobar 47 (no one seems to notice)
Arencibia 39
Vizquel -2 (yes, negative over 9 PA)

Youch. That is one ugly offense. The bottom 4's initials do work nicely though... LEAV ... just need an 'E' to hit even worse.

Meanwhile in Vegas...
Snider: 405/476/703 - 1.179
Sierra: 309/390/515 - 904
Cooper: 303/361/421 - 782
Hechavarria: 310/352/405 - 756
d'Arnaud: 222/315/333 - 648

Snider is a clear improvement over Lind (odds are one of EE/Thames/Snider could play 1B). Sierra also could be even if you cut 200 OPS points off him (sad that a 704 OPS would be an improvement at 1B). Cooper, Hech and d'Arnaud aren't ready at the moment it appears though.
John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:37 AM EDT (#255135) #
Least we forget...
Lind lifetime: 266/316/463 - 779 OPS - 105 OPS+
That is unacceptable from a mediocre (at best) defensive 1B. Heck, even for a gold glove 1B you'd debate benching him.

2010-2012: 242/291/427 - 719 - 91 OPS+ over 1222 PA's. For a middle infielder that would be acceptable. For a catcher it'd be acceptable. For a CF you could live with it. For a 1B/DH? Oy.

I felt he deserved a shot this year but he is actually hitting the worst he ever has. That is not a good thing for a guy who has to know he is on the bubble to do. If he hasn't improved by June 1st and he is still playing everyday then there is something seriously wrong with the field management here.
Chuck - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:38 AM EDT (#255136) #

Right now the Jays bats are pathetic.

The team's success this year appears to be predicated on two unsustainable rates: RISP average and defensive DP rate.

Per BB-ref, the team's OPS+ is 89, ahead of only Seattle and Oakland, though they are scoring runs at better than a league average rate (4.61 vs. 4.39). When the individual hitting numbers improve, the resultant improvement in R/G will likely not be commensurate since the RISP numbers figure to normalize.

The team's pitching is slightly better than league average (4.22 vs. 4.39), but three significant rates are below league average: HR/9 (1.4 vs. 1.1), BB/9 (3.8 vs 3.1),  SO/9 (6.1 vs. 7.1). These peripherals may well improve but a seemingly inevitable drop in GIDP rate will have a mitigating effect.

TJ Caino - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#255137) #
'Johnson 118 (lucky he couldn't get a good offer)'

I'd take the two drafts picks, as opposed to one year of KJ (where he restores his value and then rides off into the sunset).
Moe - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:51 AM EDT (#255138) #
two unsustainable rates: [..] defensive DP rate.

Is there a study on that? I realize the Jays turn a lot of DPs but you would expect that: They have a lot of ground-ball pitchers which means a fair number of singles and then subsequent DP opportunities. If you have a fly-ball pitcher, he might have fewer hits but also a lower DP rate. The Jays also have a good infield defense.

I'm not saying it can stay this high, I'm just wondering what the expected DP rate for an all GP pitching staff with a good IF defense behind them is.


hypobole - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#255139) #
Escobar 47 (no one seems to notice)

I think we notice, but there is is little reason to fret because his recent body of work has been above average and it's only April.

Lind is a different animal. His numbers since 2009 have ranged from mediocre to abysmal and though it's only April, his lack of production is a continuation of a a lengthy trend. That is what drives serious concerns and questions as to why he is continued to be slotted in the heart of the order.
Chuck - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#255140) #

Is there a study on that? I realize the Jays turn a lot of DPs but you would expect that

None that I can cite. It has always been my subjective observation that the biggest predictor of defensive DP rates is number of baserunners allowed. I seem to remember some of the really old, crappy Blue Jay teams turning lots of doubleplays thanks largely to lots and lots of baserunners.

Right now, the Jays have turned 31 DPs compared to a league average of 18. They are allowing 9.7 non-HR baserunners per 9 IP, less than the league average of 10.7. I can't find their team, nor the league's, GB%. So, while I cannot cite their GIDP rate as a percentage of opportunities, the numbers seem to superficially suggest a rate that is higher than can reasonably be expected.

And this business about the team's infield defense being so good... is this just something we are all saying or is there a solid basis for this assertion? Escobar and Johnson have the reputation of being middling defenders, though they have subjectively looked good this year (when not pouting, anyway). Lawrie has shown terrific range if not a consistent surehandedness. Seemingly impressive as they have been, it's not exactly Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger and Bobby Grich out there.

BlueJayWay - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#255141) #

I've noticed Escobar as well, but:

1) He's been pretty consistent in his career, so I expect he'll get back to his norms

2) He's doing the same thing this year so far that he did last year, hit really well at home and not on the road.  I don't know if anyone noticed *this*, but last year he hit 321/416/480 at home, just 261/322/349 away.  This year in 43 home PA he has .843 OPS, and in 45 PA on the road his OPS is .270.  Yes, .270.

And stupid batter's box is double spacing for some reason again.  Always something with this site.

BlueJayWay - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#255142) #

 So, while I cannot cite their GIDP rate as a percentage of opportunities, the numbers seem to superficially suggest a rate that is higher than can reasonably be expected.

Baseball Reference has this kind of data.  http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TOR/2012-pitching.shtml#players_ratio_pitching::none

 

The Jays have turned 28 gidp in 128 opportunities, a 22% rate.  Year in and year out the average is right around 11%.  With the Jays being so groundball heavy and the starters not striking many hitters out, you'd expect the number to be above average, but twice the average is pretty weird.


greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#255143) #
I think people are up in arms because the team started 10-6 but hasn't done anything about a couple of glaring needs.

But remember that most people didn't (don't?) expect the Jays to contend this year. 2012 could easily be another building/consolidating year, with AA possibly being a seller at the deadline (EE, KJ, Lind, a bullpen arm like Frasor or Cordero). There were lots of good players available in the off-season who could have contributed to a playoff run, and the team took a pass. It's tougher to make a deal now, as sellers presumably want to wait until July when the market is more robust.

Also: I think Snider stays on the farm for a while. He hasn't really proven a lot yet in 2012 (84 PA). You can't keep bringing the guy up when he's hot and demoting him when he slumps.
Anders - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:49 AM EDT (#255146) #
The Jays lead the league in GB% by a country mile, at 54% (second is 50%). Rough back of the envelope suggests that the league average is around 45-46%.

If you really want an example of unsustainability though, the Jays have allowed a .235 BABIP as a team, which no matter how good your infield defense, just can't last.

uglyone - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 11:03 AM EDT (#255147) #
I think the GB and K rates are directly inversely related.

The high GB rates will likely go down as the low K rates will go up, and with fewer balls in play the low BABIP (and the low LD and FB rates) will rise.

One very weird outlier that I can't really explain is the ridiculous 18.9 hr/fb%. That's a ridiculous unsustainably high number that will drop considerably, probably almost get cut in half. Seems like every flyball we give up turns into a HR, even a mishit like Davis' hr last night.
Mike Green - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#255148) #
League BABIP is at .288 this year so far, and the Jays' team offence has a BABIP of .265.  If I were to guess, I would say that both the club BABIP and the opposition BABIP will likely be higher at the end of the year than it is now.  On the other hand, Blue Jay pitchers have allowed a HR/fly rate of 19%.  That will probably go down. 

It has been a weird start from the run prevention side.  Two starting pitchers with very good stuff (Morrow and Alvarez) have extremely low strikeout rates, line drive rates and BABIPs.  A pitch fx study comparing pitch/outcome info for 2011 and 2012 might tell us something, but my guess is that the club has stressed the importance of starting pitchers going 6-7 innings and resolving at-bats quickly.

robertdudek - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 11:32 AM EDT (#255149) #
In a separate scrum, club president Paul Beeston said some players simply "don't want to play on turf."

Did anyone ask the obvious follow up question - since Rogers owns the team and stadium, WHY DON"T YOU PUT IN GRASS?
robertdudek - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#255150) #
On the previous note, I wish Selig would issue a directive: all teams must have grass turf within 5 years or face the threat of relocation.
uglyone - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#255151) #
And this business about the team's infield defense being so good... is this just something we are all saying or is there a solid basis for this assertion? Escobar and Johnson have the reputation of being middling defenders, though they have subjectively looked good this year (when not pouting, anyway). Lawrie has shown terrific range if not a consistent surehandedness. Seemingly impressive as they have been, it's not exactly Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger and Bobby Grich out there.

According to UZR, there does seem to be a solid basis for this assertion. Lawrie and Johnson seem to have been very large upgrades to the infield (and as a result, are boosting Escobar's ratings as well).

Kelly Johnson's defensive reputation seems to still suffer from the fact that he was very poor when he first stepped into MLB. However, the numbers show that he has steadily improved, and the eye test certainly shows that he's providing very goood defense out there this year. Here's his career progression in UZR/150 at 2B:

  • 2007: -5.0
  • 2008: -7.0
  • 2009: -1.1
  • 2010: +7.7
  • 2011: +3.1
  • 2012: +8.4


  • He seems to have legitimately turned himself into a solidly above average defensive 2B (and maybe just very good). This seems to be a fairly large upgrade over Hill, who gave us -5.6, +4.3, and -4.3 uzr/150 over the previous 3 seasons (though has been good in Arizona so far).

    Brett Lawrie, on the other hand, seems to have taken what was an extremely weak defensive position on the Jays and turned it into an elite one. He's up over 500 innings at 3B for us now and has posted a 19.8 uzr/150 which is elite of elite if he can sustain it. Longoria's best career mark came as a rookie at 20.9, and his career mark is 14.9, and he's the gold standard at the position.

    Meanwhile, the always solid Escobar seems to have had his defense boosted significantly by both the range of Lawrie beside him taking care of a whole bunch of groundballs at the edge of his range, and by KJ's rock solid ability at turning both ends of the double play. Escobar for the most part has rated solidly above average (+3.6uzr/150 career, peak +4.2, low +1.7), but this year with what seems to be a better supporting cast around him that has shot up to 19.5 on the season so far. That's likely not sustainable but it wouldn't be surprising to see him post slightly better defensive numbers this year than his already solid career numbers.

    So there is some decent evidence that the Jays' IF has been rather dramatically upgraded defensively with Lawrie and KJ replacing the motley defensive collection of Hill/Bautista/Encarnacion at 2B/3B.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#255152) #
    "Exactly! I can't stand the myth that greedy, high-paid players cause high ticket prices. It's the other way around. Owners maximize revenue and set ticket prices accordingly. Mostly top down -- make sure you sell all the expensive seats and if it leads to a few cheap ones are unsold, that's ok."

    Moe. Players and owners jointly determine salaries. The price of any good or service depends, at least in part (and usually in large part), on the costs of providing it. Baseball tickets are no different from widgets. When the cost of providing the spectacle increases, the price to attend the spectacle increases.

    While we should certainly be careful about buying into a simplistic "greedy players" explanation of the rise in ticket prices, we should be just as wary about suggesting that ticket prices are set unilaterally and top down by owners. They are not. The ultimate price paid for tickets has much more to do with the dynamics of bargaining than with greedy or benevolent motives of the parties.

    The original comment from Gras was that it is unlikely that the owners would ultimately be the ones who paid for contracts like Pujols's. When any business's expenses go up (i.e. salary, taxes, raw materials), the question of who bears the brunt of the increase is a question about the "incidence" of that increase. Answers to those "incidence" questions turn on elasticities of supply and demand. If owners can pass the increased costs onto consumers, you can be sure that they will. If they can't, the additional expenses will have to be paid from the owner's profit margin.
    greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:04 PM EDT (#255153) #
    Robert: I think someone did ask this question, but Beeston's answer was pretty hazy. I think he said they've been looking into it, but then he mentioned all the obstacles to getting it done (concrete base, multiuse stadium, etc). My read is that natural grass (which I would love) probably won't ever happen at the RC.
    Parker - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#255155) #
    Not that I'm defending Lind, but those of you saying he hasn't been a good hitter since 2009 seem to be forgetting the first half of 2011:

    300/349/515
    John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#255157) #
    That first half was my hope for him for this year. Like I said, give him until June 1st then if he is still in the 75 OPS+ range it is time to take him to the back of the barn.
    BalzacChieftain - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#255158) #

    From watching/attending each game so far this year, I couldn't help but notice that not only are the Jays pitchers inducing a ton of ground balls, but the Jays batters seem to be hitting a ton of ground balls as well. I took a look at Fangraphs GB% in 2012 versus the career GB% for the player and here are the results. Note the small sample size for this season as well as for some players careers (Lawrie, Thames). The numbers indicate the team is hitting a lot of grounders. It may be a product of the opposing pitchers that the team has faced, or perhaps a shift in hitting philosophy? Or perhaps just a slow start to the season?

                                  GB% 2012            GB% Career

    Escobar                65.3                      55.3

    Johnson               51.1                      41

    Bautista               44.6                      38.9

    Lind                       49                          43.2

    Encarnacion        36.1                      36.7

    Lawrie                  59                          45.3

    Thames                57.5                      42.3

    Rasmus                35.3                      34.3

    Arencibia             50                          35.7

    uglyone - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 12:56 PM EDT (#255159) #
    Lind's monthly splits since 2010:

    MAY '11: 1.431ops
    JUN '11: 1.029ops
    AUG '10: .856ops
    APR '10: .843ops
    JUL '10: .832ops
    SEP '10: .782ops
    APR '11: .742ops
    APR '12: .649ops
    SEP '11: .630ops
    JUL '11: .580ops
    AUG '11: .546ops
    MAY '10: .532ops
    JUN '10: .450ops

    weird track record for sure.

    2010 was mostly good - 4 good months split by 2 horrendous months, 2011 was mostly bad - 4 bad months split by 2 superawesome months.
    Jonny German - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:25 PM EDT (#255160) #
    Lind played 6 games in May 2011. He wasn't good in the first half, or good in 2 months. He was good in June. Very very good even. But not good enough to compensate for 4 months of hitting like a defensive specialist.
    uglyone - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#255161) #
    oh good call. my bad for not noticing that.

    On another note - if Escobar keeps struggling, should we try Lawrie in the leadoff spot? I think he'd work well there.
    Moe - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:28 PM EDT (#255163) #
    Moe. Players and owners jointly determine salaries. The price of any good or service depends, at least in part (and usually in large part), on the costs of providing it. Baseball tickets are no different from widgets. When the cost of providing the spectacle increases, the price to attend the spectacle increases.

    Salaries are not jointly determined. Teams bid for players (at least FA) and the players tend to sign with the highest bidder. The salaries for FA in turn are used as input for other non-FA contracts.

    It is correct that the price of goods depends on the marginal cost, in fact, with perfect competition you have price = MC. However, baseball is not a competitive industry but more monopolistic competitive. Monopoly over baseball games in the city but in competition with other entertainment providers. As such, teams set ticket prices to maximize revenue and that is independent of the cost. If they didn't maximize revenue for a given team, they wouldn't be maximizing profits and I'm sure you agree with me that these guys seek to maximize profits (have you seen some stadiums' ticket price schedule, that's some serious price discrimination work right there).

    If we establish that teams set prices to maximize revenue for a given team, we have to think about how to determine the profit maximizing team. The first step gives you revenue as a function of wins, call it R(w). The team can spend more money to improve the number of wins, which gives us cost as a function of wins, call that C(w). The team will then pick the number of wins that maximizes profits, that is the marginal revenue of a win is equal to the marginal cost (or MR(w)=MC(w) for the econ majors around here).

    So you can argue that the marginal cost of the win determines the ticket price because it determines the MR and hence the ticket price schedule. But really what is happening is that the team goes out there and sets ticket prices to maximize revenue. If we cut player salaries in half (all else equal), ticket prices would not move, owners would just make more money and players less. If ticket prices went down after the pay-cut, teams wouldn't be maximizing revenue any more and hence would not be maximizing profits.  


    greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#255164) #
    If you want to look on the bright side: Lind is currently outhitting Pujols (649 versus 593 OPS) and is owed about $12M through 2013 (including buyout), as opposed to being owed $240M through 2021.

    David Cooper must be wondering what he needs to do to find a job.
    subculture - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 01:57 PM EDT (#255165) #
    Not that I'm defending Lind, but those of you saying he hasn't been a good hitter since 2009 seem to be forgetting the first half of 2011:

    300/349/515


    Very true... a year ago at this time, I think most of us were wondering what EE was doing on this team (no-hit, no-field just cheap $$), and celebrating the best 3-4 tandem (Jose/Lind) in baseball.  We were thinking that if our starting pitching can come together, the 2011 Blue Jays would have a real chance.

    What a difference a year makes...

    Also not defending Lind, but his glove seems vastly superior to last year's Lind... so in essence our IF defence has upgraded at EVERY position (including catcher).
    92-93 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 02:17 PM EDT (#255167) #
    "Did anyone ask the obvious follow up question - since Rogers owns the team and stadium, WHY DON"T YOU PUT IN GRASS?"

    Beeston had already spewed nonsense in the formal QnA about how the Jays were looking into replacing the turf. The people who believed him are probably the ones who believe the Jays were in on Crawford, Lee, and Oswalt. Within two weeks Beeston backtracked on PTS completely about the turf issue, saying they weren't currently involved in any plans.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#255169) #
    Moe. It strikes me that you are bringing too much sophistication to bear on a very simple point. Ticket prices do not turn on theories of monopolistic competition or perfect or imperfect markets, or anything like that.

    Salaries are the outcome of arm's length bargaining between two parties of roughly equal bargaining power (the player and the team owner#. In this way, they are jointly determined #not sure what you mean when you say they are not#. Salaries are not dictated top-down by the owners #if they were, I guarantee you the salaries would be much lower). The cost of those salaries is reflected in ticket prices. All other things being equal, salaries go up, ticket prices go up. No Econ PHD required.



    John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#255170) #
    Sigh. All of us here with economics degrees groan a lot when baseball economics is brought up.

    If you owned the Blue Jays what would you do? Would you ...
    a) charge just enough to cover costs
    b) charge as much as you possibly could while still getting a good crowd
    c) charge so much no one can afford to come and you have an empty park

    The answer is B. If player salaries affected ticket prices then the cheap seats would be a heck of a lot more expensive as back in 1988 when Exhibition stadium closed they were $4 for a team with a payroll around $15 million. Today they are $11 for a team with a payroll around $84 million. So the payroll jumped 763% while the cheap seats (in a much better park) jumped 275%. I'd compare other seats but the cheapies are the only ones I remember clearly from then (as that is where I'd sit). Now, there is nearly a $4 surcharge on tickets too, so if we factor that in we get a 375% increase but that still is nowhere near the increase in salary.

    So either you believe Rogers is a very nice company that wants to give fans a break (yeah right) or they are just charging what the market will pay regardless of payroll.
    uglyone - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#255171) #
    I think I heard somewhere once that you gotta spend money to make money or some such thing.
    Original Ryan - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 02:55 PM EDT (#255172) #
    I just want to add a couple of points to what Moe and John have already written. The cost of producing a ticket is very low. There are some transaction costs, printing costs, etc. but nothing significant. That's one of the things that make sports tickets substantially different from other tangible consumer products (i.e. the widget example). Teams don't chop up players and sell them to fans (thankfully), so the prices teams pay for players aren't relevant when setting ticket prices.

    Fans will pay more to see good teams. Good teams have good players. Good players generally cost more than bad players. Therefore good teams generally have higher payrolls than bad teams, and those teams can also charge more for tickets because fans are willing to pay higher prices to see them play. The relationship between salaries and ticket prices is only an indirect one -- an increase in the former does not cause an increase in the latter.
    robertdudek - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 03:16 PM EDT (#255175) #
    Oakland has a multi-purpose stadium, and has grass. Other baseball parks have other events during the season and  the off-season and yet somehow the grass doesn't die.

    There is something really weird about Toronto's love affair with artificial turf. While the rest of baseball said a decided "no" to artificial turf in the 1990s, Toronto continues with it with no end in sight.

    There really are no practical obstacles to having grass in Rogers Centre, all it takes is the will to do it.

    robertdudek - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#255176) #
    Today they are $11 for a team with a payroll around $84 million. So the payroll jumped 763% while the cheap seats (in a much better park) jumped 275%.

    Many new revenue streams for MLB have allowed salaries to grow faster than ticket prices. You will find this has been true for all the teams across the board.
    John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 03:20 PM EDT (#255177) #
    An interesting thought just occurred...
    In 1988 the Jays were fighting for the division every year, they were a great team in the middle of a great run.

    If they start winning again might the cheap seats jump too? From $4 in 1988 to $15 today to, say, $30 in 2015 if the Jays become contenders? That would match the payroll jump to date. Odds are they won't jump that much as there would be a lot of complaining, but $20 (after service fees) certainly is possible.
    92-93 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#255178) #
    And by the will, robertdudek means the money.
    greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 04:04 PM EDT (#255180) #
    I would be interested in knowing what the organization's long-term stadium plan is (5, 10, 20 years out). Does it include (eventually) a new stadium? What might it look like, and where would it be located? Will it have a grass field?

    I get that we're stuck with the RC experience for now (could be worse, could be better - kind of a blah baseball experience if you ask me). But for how long?
    greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 04:12 PM EDT (#255181) #
    Talk about a world of hurt. The Angels (6-13) are now nine games behind Texas (15-4). On April 26! Meanwhile, Tampa (12-7) is rolling. Time for the Jays to get some plate discipline and salvage game 3 against the O's.
    greenfrog - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#255182) #
    Last comment: I wouldn't mind if AA managed to pry Trumbo away from the Angels to play 1B/DH/LF for the Jays. But this may no longer be possible, as the formerly OBP-challenged ROY is now hitting 342/405/632 and effectively anchoring the LAA lineup.
    hypobole - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#255184) #
    Toronto has no "love affair" with turf.  However, the Skydome was never designed for grass - there is no drainage system. IIRC there are parking lots there. Everything I've heard hints it being an expensive proposition to do the changeover.  Because the seats will need to be fixed for the baseball field, the Argos will no longer be able to play at the RC. I couldn't give a rats ass, but I'm not collecting rent from them either.
    John Northey - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 04:52 PM EDT (#255185) #
    I don't think it is the Argos as much as trade shows and the like. Those are the big buck items for a stadium, especially one with a roof ala the SkyDome.

    Long term? The dome is here for at least another decade I figure. I can't picture them getting anything from the city or province or feds for at least that long and no way they re-build without begging for cash first. I suspect they'll try to (behind the scenes) encourage the city to bid for an Olympics (2024 probably) and have the main stadium (a new one of course) be open air and easily converted to baseball.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 05:08 PM EDT (#255187) #
    John. I do not have an economics degree. I know though, that when the cost of steel goes up, one of two things can happen (all other things being equal): the price of cars can go up, or Ford's profit margins shrink. There is no third option.

    When gas prices go up, the price of any commodity that needs to be transported rises.

    When minimum wage goes up, MacDonalds either takes a hit to its bottom line, or it raises prices.

    In short, whenever the price of the inputs required to produce the final product rise, then either the supplier gives up some of their profits and absorbs the increased cost, or the cost is passed onto the consumer. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is orthodoxy.

    Baseball tickets are no different than any other commodity. When salaries (an input) go up, this puts upward pressure on ticket prices. Believe me, Rogers doesn't take one for the team when its expenses go up.




    hypobole - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 05:30 PM EDT (#255188) #
    Grass field stadiums host all sorts of events in other cities, no? Don't they just cover the grass to protect it when necessary?
    Original Ryan - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 05:30 PM EDT (#255189) #
    Players are not inputs required to produce tickets. You're essentially comparing apples and oranges here. Players are not at all similar to steel, gas, or the other things you mention.
    Nick Holmes - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#255190) #
    McGowan Shut Down With Shoulder Issue

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/2012/04/26/mcgowan_shut_down_blue_jays/
    Chuck - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 05:41 PM EDT (#255192) #

    Baseball tickets are no different than any other commodity. When salaries (an input) go up, this puts upward pressure on ticket prices.

    In your example, the price of inputs is driven by factors external to the industries that use them. In the case of baseball, there are no other forces setting the price of baseball players. Their prices are set by the industry itself because it is only the baseball industry that is competing for them. Many industries are competing for oil, thereby driving its price. Only one industry wants baseball players.

    Now, if the cost of baseballs went up from $5 to $5000, then your example might apply. To stage a baseball game would cost more than it currently does because of factors outside the industry. So those costs could result in lower salaries and/or be passed on to the consumer (if the consumer were willing to pay).

    bpoz - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#255193) #
    I can find economics interesting and possibly useful.
    This can be a good discussion.
    First off please identify yourself as a student who is studying economics, if that is he case and you submit an opinion. Experience in the world MAY, I say may tell you that there is a lot of BS involved and written in the media regarding economics in all areas, not just baseball.

    When Skydome was built with Govt funds, some people thought that it was wrong to pay with money that in many cases was contributed by people that have no interest in baseball. Eventually Skydome was sold at less than cost.

    I have been a Jays fan from day 1, but I agree with that misuse of govt funds. If I am wrong, I am open minded to change.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:34 PM EDT (#255195) #
    Chuck. The prices paid for players are set by competitive forces the same way they are in the commodities market, or in any their labour market where employees are permitted to bargain individually.

    Remember that "the industry" is not actually monolithic. It is a bunch of owners competing against one another. It may be a smallish market of 30 odd owners and a thousand odd players, but the market is a competitive one.

    There are lots of industries that are the sole users of an input. You could say the same thing about actors, lawyers, and doctors.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:38 PM EDT (#255197) #
    Bpoz. Yours is a political question about the proper role of government. I understand this sort of discussion has been banned.
    JB21 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#255198) #
    Beyonder, you argument may work if we were selling 1 ticket but there isn't a mathematic cost of goods sold to calculate the margin of the product Roger is selling. The Jays only sell 50% of the available tickets currently.
    JB21 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:44 PM EDT (#255199) #
    bpoz, surely you don't think actually you need to be an economics "student" to be qualified to provide insight or opinion in this conversion.
    Beyonder - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#255201) #
    It's not really my argument. It's Econ 101 (which I never took). A number of posters have said that higher salaries do not affect ticket prices. If this were the case it would make baseball different from every other business on earth, which it is not.

    The final price paid by the consumer of any good depends at least in part on the cost of providing that good. Not contentious stuff.
    JB21 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:54 PM EDT (#255202) #
    I disagree.

    For example: The LA Angels and Texas Rangers increased payroll this past off season, did their tickets also increase at the same rate? Or did they find another way to source revenue, such as a new lucrative TV deal? Not too mention neither of them have identical attendance #'s as last year.
    JB21 - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:57 PM EDT (#255203) #
    Not to mention other businesses that are very close to Baseball being sports that have hard caps. Their collective bargaining agreements only allow salaries to increase by a certain percentage each year, and no tickets prices do not follow this percentage. Eco101 is supply and demand.
    Mike Green - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 06:57 PM EDT (#255204) #
    Today's lineup has Lawrie batting second and Thames as the only lefty in the lineup and batting fifth against Matusz. It is a bit odd to have Thames batting fifth, but I guess that it is the "hot hand" theory at work again.
    Original Ryan - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 07:06 PM EDT (#255205) #
    The problem with your argument is that you're mistaking players for inputs. They're not. Teams don't sell pieces of players to fans.

    To use one of your examples, when the price of steel goes up, the cost of producing a car with that steel goes up. If the Blue Jays paid Jeff Mathis $20 million tomorrow, the cost of admitting a fan into Rogers Centre for three hours won't change at all. That's why the examples you cite aren't really similar.

    In response to Bpoz, I minored in economics during my undergrad years ago, but I don't think it's necessary to have studied the subject to comment on it.
    bpoz - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 07:09 PM EDT (#255207) #
    JB21, I did some Economics courses and "Never Understood a Thing", It was tough. But about 18 years later I was at some kind of Social Awareness grouping at McMaster University , Gulf War time and I overheard an economics Masters/Phd student in the crowd say something like "in economics you have to make so many assumptions, and a lot of them have nothing to do with reality, to make the theory work". Now that made sense to me, even if it is nonsense.

    So students, I find are getting facts out of books, and those facts & theories may not work in the real world. So I side with someone that has experienced something that does not seem right rather than someone that has read it.

    For example cigarette & gasoline sales may be influenced by economics. I don't smoke and quit drinking beer when the cost went to $18-20 for 24, luckily I found that I can make my own about 3 24s for $17. When gas prices go very high or come down a bit I still drive the same amount I have found. That is a sample of only 1 person so it is probably meaningless.
    bpoz - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#255209) #
    OK, I get it now. I meant to say "Identify yourself as a student IF you are studying economics NOW".


    I was being unfair to students studying it now, but also with the assumption that they were young and so do not have decades of real life experience & responsibilities.
    My adult experiences & dealing with responsibilities have changed me, very much. I feel that is a factor of some kind.
    grjas - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 07:46 PM EDT (#255210) #
    Exactly! I can't stand the myth that greedy, high-paid players cause high ticket prices. It's the other way around.

    Just tuned back into this thread. Sheesh guys, wasn't trying to start world war 3. Anyway, there are more than a few economists who blame rising salaries on sport monopolies. Here's a fairly well known book by two economic professors if anyone is interested and a synopsis below: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6551.html

    Regardless of whether you believe these economists or not, I find the Fielder and Pujol contracts very disturbing in terms of size and term - huge risk for a ball team to bet on the long term health of a player or two. Would hate to see them becoming the norm for top tier players. So keep swingin' and missin' Albert, and hopefully saner heads will prevail.

    Partial synopsis of Hard ball book:

    In HARD BALL, economists James Quirk and Rodney Fort document and persuasively blame the monopoly power and authoritarianism of professional sports leagues for exorbitant ticket prices, high and escalating player salaries, growing revenue disparities between small- and large-market teams, and the leverage owners use to blackmail cities to finance new facilities with taxpayer subsidies.
    Richard S.S. - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 09:30 PM EDT (#255213) #

    The Jays must, for their fans sake, continually avoid losing more than two games in a row.   Without falling too far between this early in the season, A.A. might be forced to make moves to bolster this Team for a postseason run.   They fall too far behind, nothing happens and 2013 becomes another "we're not planning on competing" years, while we suffer through a missed 2012.

    Watching tonight's game it's apparent no Jay's interested in winning this game.    One must wonder how bad this will get, because Bautista's nowhere close to regaining his form.   You can only piece together just so much before your luck runs out.

    Anders - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:03 PM EDT (#255214) #
    I was gonna write out something long, but now the Jays are losing and I'm annoyed.

    Ticket cost is driven by how many people want to come to the games. If you increase salary, you can increase demand for tickets, and thus charge more. But how much it costs to field the team shouldn't/doesn't have any bearing on what the tickets cost, in a rational world. If you are setting the price of tickets so that you make the most possible money, how is raising the price of the tickets, away from that perfectly calibrated level, going to make you more money? (And again, increasing the price is always going to decrease demand for baseball tickets if those are the only two variables considered. Obviously if the Jays signed Albert Pujols and 50,000 more people wanted to come to each game they could successfully raise ticket prices and make more money, but in that case the team would be responding to the demand, and not the increased cost of running the team - if you tried the same thing after signing John McDonald to $250 million there would be no decrease in demand, and fewer people would come to the games and the team would make less money.)


    Mike Green - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:22 PM EDT (#255215) #
    You can only piece together just so much before your luck runs out

    Strangely enough, I was listening to Howlin' Wolf when I read this line and everything seemed to fit.  Maybe John Lee Hooker would have been even better.  Notwithstanding all of the struggles in Baltimore, I actually like the 2012 Jay offence. 


    BlueJayWay - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:24 PM EDT (#255216) #
    That was bad.  That was ugly.  Let us never speak of this series again.
    christaylor - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#255217) #
    "For example cigarette & gasoline sales may be influenced by economics. " bpoz, you picked just about two of the worst examples one could -- demand for cigs and gas is what is known as inelastic, namely, price has little effect on demand. To be glib, with one you're addicted and the other you're probably stuck (unless you're fortunate to live in an enlightened area with good public transportation).

    On your anecdote about the McMaster student economist -- any theory/model will simplify the world, however, as Einstein put it, is to make the theory as simple as possible, but no simpler. Bill James' was getting at the same thing when he talked about respecting the fog. As long as the creators of the theories are aware of their limits/simplifications, we're good. The trouble is to avoid being seduced by them...
    dan gordon - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:49 PM EDT (#255218) #
    Loved this comment from Buck on the broadcast tonight.  When discussing Luis Perez, he stated that "he's made himself into one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball."  OK, then, let's see if we can trade him for Verlander or Kershaw or some such thing.  People actually get paid to come with such inanities as that.
    christaylor - Thursday, April 26 2012 @ 10:53 PM EDT (#255219) #
    I personally don't understand the grass fetish... over the past year, I've been to a bunch of games at Fenway and Yankee stadium. Once I had seats where I could count the blades of grass. Meh. Grass really didn't do anything for me, the baseball was more exciting than watching the grass grow.

    Other than the downside that perhaps turf may have prevented the Jays from acquiring Beltran (we'll never know) and lead Glaus/Rolen leave town. What's the big deal? Get rid of the seams, get truer hops, slow it with more of those spongy bits, it seems like they Jays could have a field more tailored to their team than they could ever have with grass.

    Can someone improve turf and/or show that it is is easier on the knees/joints?
    robertdudek - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 02:23 AM EDT (#255226) #
    I personally don't understand the grass fetish... over the past year, I've been to a bunch of games at Fenway and Yankee stadium. Once I had seats where I could count the blades of grass. Meh. Grass really didn't do anything for me, the baseball was more exciting than watching the grass grow.

    This is your opinion, and it is an extreme minority one (and that's fine). Baseball has decided grass is better, only Toronto holds out (and Tampa, but it may not be reasonable to maintain a grass field with a permanently closed structure).

    I have been to the old Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and a couple of minor league parks. IMO if any of these places had artificial turf, my aesthetic experience of the game would have been greatly decreased.

    As far as maybe preventing certain free agents from signing, this is a direct admission that our turf could be adversely affecting our ability to compete. Isn't this enough of a reason to get rid of the stuff?

    BTW, the Dome had sod and grass put in for exhibition soccer games. It is doable.
    smcs - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 03:23 AM EDT (#255227) #
    BTW, the Dome had sod and grass put in for exhibition soccer games. It is doable.

    And one of those games was a disaster because the threat of rain forced the roof to be kept closed, which made it uncomfortably humid. There is no drainage, so the roof couldn't be opened because any rainfall would turn the pitch into a swampy mess. That grass was grown in another location and trucked in. The cost would be astronomical. When Toronto FC played the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rogers Centre at the end of March, it was decided that shipping the grass up from the southern States was way too expensive, so they used turf. TFC is playing Liverpool at the Rogers Centre on July 21 on natural grass that will have to be trucked in, and starts dying as soon as it is cut. As a one-off, it can be done. But as a viable long-term strategy, it really cannot.

    Stadia that have retractable roofs and natural grass were built to make sure natural grass could grow and survive and are single-use facilities. The only solutions for Rogers Centre would be to make it a single-use facility (which ain't gonna happen) or retrofit it with roll-out grass (which ain't gonna happen).

    It would have to be single-use because the seats in the lower bowl won't be able to move without chewing up a bunch of grass. The Oakland Coliseum (or whatever it is) is known for its large foul areas. That's because a baseball field was placed on top of a football field. The Rogers Centre doesn't have that situation because the seats can move to accommodate the gigantic CFL field.

    And even the roll-out isn't viable because there would be stretches where it would have to be kept in doors for the entirety of Jays home stands. That's no good because there is no drainage and the field couldn't be watered when it is kept in doors. And where exactly is there enough space around the Rogers Centre to hold a major league baseball field?

    There are significant structural and financial issues in between the Rogers Centre getting permanent natural grass; it isn't just a matter of will. The simple fact is that the Rogers Centre was never designed to hold natural grass, so putting it in 23 years after the fact is going to be somewhat difficult. Now, if the Jays were to build a new stadium, it can be (and probably should be) done, but that's a whole 'nother ball of string.
    scottt - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 04:57 AM EDT (#255228) #
    Today's lineup has Lawrie batting second and Thames as the only lefty in the lineup and batting fifth against Matusz. It is a bit odd to have Thames batting fifth, but I guess that it is the "hot hand" theory at work again.

    That part  worked well enough. The only hit out of the top 5 was from JPA.


    Beyonder - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 09:44 AM EDT (#255231) #
    Anders. Imagine salary costs for the league double next off season. Do you think ticket prices stay the same, or do you think there is upward pressure on prices?

    Now imagine the Blue Jays operating expenses are reduced to 1/10th their current level. Do you think the blue jays continue to keep tickets at a price that attracts 20,000 people per game to the rogers centre, or do they lower prices and fill the place up?

    I think the answer to both these questions is obvious, but am happy for someone to explain otherwise.

    No business in the world sets prices for their goods and services without regard to the expenses incurred to provide them.
    Moe - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#255232) #
    It's not really my argument. It's Econ 101 (which I never took). A number of posters have said that higher salaries do not affect ticket prices. If this were the case it would make baseball different from every other business on earth, which it is not.

    I'm sorry if this comes of the wrong way, but if you never took Econ101, you shouldn't make so definitive statements. Baseball is not in the production of widgets. As someone else pointed out, the marginal cost of an extra ticket is zero until you hit the capacity of the stadium. So you price the tickets in order to fill up, independent of the cost of the product. Look at the Mets, it's a perfect example of this strategy:
    http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/ticketing/dynamic_pricing.jsp?c_id=nym&layout=gameflow#date=04/27/2012

    Good revenue (tickets + TV) support the high salaries, not the other way around. It's easier to see in basketball where players receive a fixed fraction of the revenue. If that's the rule, the optimal strategy is very clear: maximize revenue since profits = 49-47% of revenue -- independent of the cost. In fact, cost is a function of revenue = 51-53% of revenue. Baseball works the same, except the CBA does not have that rule build in.

    So, basically what Anders said.


    Masters/Phd student in the crowd say something like "in economics you have to make so many assumptions, and a lot of them have nothing to do with reality, to make the theory work". Now that made sense to me, even if it is nonsense.


    Of course you make assumptions when you model anything, especially something as complicated as the economy. However, in the profession people get killed if the assumptions are total nonsense. In other words, the assumptions you use can't be too far of and must not drive your result. For example, if I build a model to explain  long run growth, I may make an assumption that all households are identical. Of course that's not true but since my focus is growth, that's not a critical assumption. Now if I wanted to study unemployment benefits or retirement behavior, I would never make such an assumption.

    And even if you don't like macroeconomics, the baseball ticket pricing is firm's optimizing behavior, pretty much the least controversial thing economists do.


    Moe - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#255233) #
    Anders. Imagine salary costs for the league double next off season. Do you think ticket prices stay the same, or do you think there is upward pressure on prices?

    Again, it's the other way around -- causation vs. correlation. Ticket prices double because the market is willing to buy up all the tickets at a higher price. Then the increased revenue will lead to higher salaries because teams will use the extra money to buy a few wins.

    There are 81 home games with 45k tickets each. That's the supply, independent of cost. If you want to use a simple supply-demand diagram (which I argued is not quite correct but let's do it anways), you have supply a vertical line at 81*45k. Demand is downward sloping and the price is set where S=D. Demand drives the price.

    In reality it's a bit more complicated because the team could be better off charging a slightly higher price and not selling out since there are different ticket classes and different quality of games. It's basic price discrimination.

    Chuck - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 09:58 AM EDT (#255234) #

    Imagine salary costs for the league double next off season.

    But how would this happen? There is no external force driving salary levels. The industry itself is what sets the salary levels based on revenues. If salaries suddenly doubled, this would be the result of an increase in revenues making this possible.

    bpoz - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 10:05 AM EDT (#255235) #
    Here is my positive spin on being swept by the Os.

    1) The bats are due to break out.
    2) The SPs were really good. I cannot see any Ace doing much better. IMO.

    IMO Farrell has made some moves in the line up that could have helped, but the bats are cold. He is trying.

    I like his use of L Perez in the pen. Perez has been very good this year, so using him is wise. He is getting experience in important situations. OK, most situations seem important.
    Last year Janssen & Fraser were pitching a lot better than this year. Someone mentioned that relievers performance from year to year can significantly change. Why? I don't know. But I think that if the performance changes then the manager should change the roles based on that. Give each RP a fair chance by taking into account SSS, the odd bad outing and anything else.

    I think I remember Dave Steib going to the pen once or twice because his pitching was a bit poor or poor. The rest may have helped him, he returned to the rotation and pitched well. Henke became the closer quite quickly when called up.
    There may be unspoken rules against role changes, I don't know.
    Ryan Day - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 10:06 AM EDT (#255236) #
    To put it another way:

    In 2008, the Jays payroll was $97.7 million.
    By 2010, it sank to $62 million.

    Did ticket prices decrease a corresponding amount?
    bpoz - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 10:20 AM EDT (#255237) #
    Back to Economics!!!

    How about a taxi, make it a van, $100 per passenger to go to Montreal from Toronto. Capacity is 6 passengers. Should you give a discount to fill up the van or leave with 2 empty seats. Airlines & hotels may be doing this.

    Peak season prices?

    Obviously this is reality, in that it does happen. But maybe this is not economics related.
    And who is that guy on the radio who keeps telling me that I am shocked to find out the guy next to me paid less for the same vacation than I did.
    MatO - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 11:30 AM EDT (#255242) #
    The NHL has a mandated max salary yet the teams that spend to that max have massively different ticket prices depending on what their particular market can bear.  A number of those teams that spend to the max and even those that spend less lose money year after year but raising ticket prices to cover the losses is never even considered.  They hope that the team will be good and more fans will show up.
    Beyonder - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 11:38 AM EDT (#255243) #
    Not to worry Moe. I'm not thin-skinned. But you haven't explained why you are right. Remember, I'm just saying that the level of expenses impacts the ultimate price charged to the consumer. You guys are the ones defending the revolutionary proposition that expenses are irrelevant. So you need to do more than say that baseball games are not widgets. Explain why they are different. Explain why baseball is different than every other service industry, where owners try (often succesfully) to pass increased labour costs along to consumers.

    It is not true that salary increases are inevitably the result of increased revenue --they are the result of increased demand for labour. Salaries often increase because one owner thinks he can grab a larger share of a fixed revenue pie by spending more to field a better team. So one owner spends more, and makes it that much more expensive for the other owners to field competitive teams. Other owners respond to this and raise salaries themselves. The general salary level rises. So everyone spends more money, but revenue does not go up and no owner is better off than they would have been if they had spent less money. End result: no new or enhanced revenue; higher salaries.

    Owners are then left in the position of either absorbing the increased costs themselves, or passing it along. All I am saying is that when they can, they pass it along in the form of higher ticket prices. You guys are saying they never pass it along.

    A couple of things to remember: (1) no one is saying that an increase/decrease in expenses is automatically reflected in ticket prices that same year– just that over time increased expenses put upward pressure on ticket prices, and (2) no one is saying that the relationship between expenses and ticket prices is proportionate or one to one – just that as expenses go up the ultimate price charge to the consumer also tends to go up.
    Paul D - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#255244) #
    Businesses charge what they can get. Come on, you think Rogers is interested in giving back to the fans? They have sophisticated models that they use to figure out how to generate the most revenue. I won't say that's independent of the salaries, but it's based on supply and demand, not the price of inputs. Just like most businesses. If you run a business and you do your pricing only based on the price of inputs, you'll quickly be out of business.

    Actually, think about Rogers. Canadians basically pay the highest cellular rates in the world. Not because it costs more here, but because Rogers can get away with it.
    Beyonder - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#255246) #
    If you "won't say that's independent of the salaries", then we agree. I think the other guys say it's entirely independent.

    John Northey - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 01:37 PM EDT (#255248) #
    Lets try again...

    Seats in the stadium have a minor variable cost per seat (security, cleanup, etc.) thus why the Jays close off sections during quiet periods. If that price changes (say, security costs per person coming to the game jump due to another 9/11) then the ticket price would reflect that change as the number of fans coming in changes the cost structure of the ballclub (ie: if 10k fans came in it costs the team less than if 30k fans came so having cheap seats suddenly could cost more than what the ticket price is.

    Now, suppose that the MLB players union, for some reason, agreed to a salary cap of $50 million per team. Does that change how much each incremental seat sold costs the Jays? No. Does that change peoples demand for those seats? No. So would Rogers, out of the kindness of their hearts, slash ticket prices? Again, the answer is no.

    If all of those answers are no then how come people think the opposite is true, that if salaries doubled that ticket prices would have to change as well? To make that assumption you have to believe that a doubling of salaries would either A) increase demand for tickets or B) that Rogers is just being nice charging what they charge today when demand dictates a higher price could be had.

    Some costs affect price - those are ones that affect the marginal cost of selling a ticket.
    Some costs do not affect price - those are ones that do NOT change the marginal cost of selling a ticket.

    Now, sometimes ticket prices do climb when salaries climb. This would occur due to the team signing players who are viewed as critical to shifting the team into a contender thus increasing demand for those tickets thus allowing a ticket price increase to occur. As someone else said, paying $250 mil for Pujols would increase demand thus ticket prices, but paying $250 mil to John McDonald would not thus ticket prices would stay the same.
    Moe - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#255249) #
    Not to worry Moe. I'm not thin-skinned. But you haven't explained why you are right. Remember, I'm just saying that the level of expenses impacts the ultimate price charged to the consumer. You guys are the ones defending the revolutionary proposition that expenses are irrelevant. So you need to do more than say that baseball games are not widgets. Explain why they are different. Explain why baseball is different than every other service industry, where owners try (often succesfully) to pass increased labour costs along to consumers.

    Let's work through this in steps:

    1. The demand for tickets is falling in price and increasing in wins. First, fix the number of wins: If the price is zero, demand is very high but revenue is zero. If you increase prices, demand falls, but revenue will increase. That is true up to a point, if you increase the price too much, revenue will fall since the number of tickets goes down more than the increase in prices. That implies that there is a revenue maximizing price for that level of wins. 
    Now, increase the number of wins: the max revenue ticket price will go up, but at a decreasing rate (going from 80 to 90 really helps, going from 100 to 110 probably doesn't make much of a difference any more).

    2. (1.) implies two things: (a) For a given team quality, the ticket cost has nothing to do with the payroll of the team. (b) The team can spend more money (buy wins) and charge a higher price. That second effect looks like salaries drive ticket prices but that's not really true. The team picks the level of wins (and corresponding costs) that maximizes profits, the ticket price comes from only from the demand side. It is correlated with wins which is why it may look like ticket prices are driven by costs.


    The difference between baseball and other services (haircut, restaurant) is nature of the market. All of these services are more or less competitive. But I can't go ahead and start up a 3rd MLB team in NY, NYY and Mets have the territorial rights and MLB has a monopoly on MLB. The supply and demand picture and incidence analysis you talked about before is all based on the assumption of perfectly competitive markets. Baseball is not a perfectly competitive industry which is why cost changes don't translate into higher prices. In a perf. comp. market, price=marginal cost, so cost increases imply price increases. But in baseball that's not true as outlined above.

    Another way to see this is the point others have brought up: assume there is a way for Rogers to increase revenue by increasing prices today, why are they not doing it? They would be leaving money on the table. Hence the current prices maximize revenue. If the payroll goes up (without changing the teams quality, aka same level of interest or the team), these prices are still revenue maximizing. An increase in prices would make revenue and profits go down. Of course, if they spend more money and the team is better, prices go up. But that's not because cost went up but because the team is better.

    Moe - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 01:52 PM EDT (#255251) #
    It's actually not a revolutionary proposition at all. Economics of Sports is a very popular field. You can take a look at the standard book for this course:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Economics-Sports-4th-Edition/dp/0138009295/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

    Warning: it's a textbook, so it is dry and full of equations and graphs but it is designed to be read right after eco101 with a chapter on the relevant eco101 material.


    Original Ryan - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#255255) #
    Professional sports is essentially an industry with very high fixed costs, and it's not unique in that regard. One industry with similarly high fixed costs is the hotel industry. The biggest costs there are the construction of hotels and the furnishings in the rooms, and neither of those costs depend on the number of rooms actually sold to customers. The prices hotels charge for rooms are based on demand. That's why you often see significant fluctuations in what hotels charge for rooms from one week to the next, even though the costs associated with providing those rooms remain the same.

    In sports, the fixed costs are the stadiums and players. I might be oversimplifying this (I took microeconomics 10+ years ago), but when fixed costs are high and variable costs are low, the point where profit is maximized is essentially the point where revenue is maximized. That's a big difference between sports and manufacturing or service-based industries with high variable costs, where your costs go up with each unit you produce.
    vw_fan17 - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 03:45 PM EDT (#255257) #
    It is not true that salary increases are inevitably the result of increased revenue --they are the result of increased demand for labour. Salaries often increase because one owner thinks he can grab a larger share of a fixed revenue pie by spending more to field a better team. So one owner spends more, and makes it that much more expensive for the other owners to field competitive teams. Other owners respond to this and raise salaries themselves. The general salary level rises. So everyone spends more money, but revenue does not go up and no owner is better off than they would have been if they had spent less money. End result: no new or enhanced revenue; higher salaries.

    But - how does an owner get a larger share of a fixed revenue pie, in your example? What is "the pie"?

    In all practicality, except for a few billionaire elites who can fly around the country and follow any team they want and a few fans in Chicago/NY/LA who can follow two or three teams, most teams are the ONLY MLB game in town, unless you're willing to travel 3-4+ hours. As a Blue Jay fan living in NorCal, my direct contribution to Roger's pie is very, VERY minimal. Yes, I try to go see the Jays play Oakland once a year, and pay maybe $20-30 for a ticket. Not sure how much of that Rogers gets. Let's say the Jays had signed Pujols, Fielder AND Darvish in the off season. My interest would be higher than it is now. I still couldn't (realistically) see any more Jays games than I already do. To think of Rogers getting a larger share of Oakland's revenue pie, in this case, doesn't make any sense. Heck, they may INCREASE attendance in Oakland by having such a legendary team in town (the Yankees often increase the home team's attendance when they go on the road) and might actually grow Oakland's pie too. And even then, Roger's ticket prices have 0 influence on people seeing the Jays play in Oakland. Same with my MLB live subscription - I pay the same price to watch ANY team/game, regardless of their ticket prices. I'm sure some of my $$ ended up in Rogers' pockets - but Jays ticket prices were irrelevant to the cost MLB charges for the subscription. This is one of the "other" revenue sources that was talked about.

    So, the pie for Rogers (when talking about ticket prices) is NOT "all blue jays fans in the world" - we just said that Blue Jay fans in California are irrelevant, and may actually grow someone else's pie. Does that mean the pie has shrunk for some other MLB team? No - it might mean the Shark's pie has shrunk. The only people who matter for Rogers' ticket pie are those within 1-4 hours driving distance of Skydome. And while THAT pie MAY overlap a little with the Tigers' pie, it probably has very, VERY little overlap with the Mariners' pie, the Phillies' pie, or the Padres' pie.

    Thus, your basic premise that an owner is trying to get "more" pie by taking it from another MLB owner is, IMHO, flawed. They are NOT trying to take it from each other - how could they? How could we steal Yankee fans? If we had a better team, LESS of their fans would come to see the Yanks play in Toronto (presumably) because they wouldn't like traveling 6+ hours to see their team lose. How could we take more of the Dodgers' pie? We can't.

    In fact, the owners are trying to take pie away from the NBA owner, the NHL owner, the NFL owner, NASCAR, etc. IN THEIR CITY/STATE/PROVINCE. And NONE of those companies employ baseball players, so there's no direct salary competition that way. The only way to "get more pie" is to field a competitive team (aside from owners like Steinbrenner who want to win, even if they lose money) because then demand rises relative to other entertainment venues. With higher demand, you'll sell more tickets at the current prices (if you're not already selling out), or you could raise some ticket prices. But ONLY if you're able to generate more demand.

    Assuming that a company is rational (i.e. not Steinbrenner), they'll say that "based on last year's attendance, last year's revenue from profit sharing, etc", we'll take in $X. Our expenses are $Y. Thus, we have Z = X-Y left over. How much to spend on payroll, how much to take as profit? That's up to the company. Very rarely will they spend >= $Z on payroll unless something has changed on the demand side.

    I think you're looking it as "we spent more today on salary, so we'll need to take in more tomorrow". I think the other side is saying it's more "based on projected demand/income tomorrow, how much should we spend on salary today?". Both are accepted business strategies. I'm not sure the first one works well in sports.

    I do think owners compete with other owner's for players - but only to affect their LOCAL demand. They have to gauge their local demand and guess how much more $$ they can get in income, based on expected increased LOCAL demand. Has the demand for Jays tickets gone down because the Angels signed Pujols? I don't think so. However, demand for Angels tickets has probably gone up vs. demand for Disney tickets, or something. The Jays' ticket pie didn't shrink because the Angels signed Pujols. And why did the Angels sign Pujols? Everyone knows they have a new TV deal with lots of $$$. I don't know if they raised tickets prices or not..
    JB21 - Friday, April 27 2012 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#255262) #
    I'm definitely not disagreeing but I thought it was interesting that you picked the Angels as your example. SAMPLE SIZE ALERT... Their attendance LY in their initial 10 home games was 38,947 per game. Their attendance TY in their initial 10 home game was 34,834. 4th worst deficit in the MLB in 2012. Bet they didn't see that coming.
    Anders - Saturday, April 28 2012 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#255290) #
    Again echoing the not wanting to be a jerk comments, but this isn't really that difficult of a concept, and its inarguably correct - the team's costs don't drive ticket price in baseball, demand does.

    Think of it this way - if the players union striked tomorrow and the owners immediately gave in and doubled player salaries for every player, should/would the Jays raise their ticket prices? If you answer yes, you need to explain why. Literally nothing about the club will have changed, other than the cost to field the team. Why would fans pay more for the same product? If tomorrow it cost you $300 or $40 to go to the Jays game instead of $60 or $11 (or whatever it is now), fewer people would go and the club would make less money. Rogers is a multi-billion dollar business, they know this.

    In most other industries, when costs rise they can pass it along to the consumer - if the cost of grain doubles and it costs twice as much to make bread, Dempsters is going to raise the price of bread, because a) its going to cost everyone else who makes bread more money, so they aren't losing out, and b) people need to eat bread. But baseball seats aren't bread, and if Rogers just decides to double the price of its tickets there are plenty of other things baseball fans can spend their money on - Raptors tickets, movies, plays, cable packages, MLB TV, whatever. So they just can't change the price indiscriminately.

    Beyonder - Sunday, April 29 2012 @ 08:43 AM EDT (#255319) #
    Don't worry about being a jerk. It's not being a jerk to correct someone who's wrong, unless you're unkind about it. And no one has been unkind. Although I certainly don't agree with many of the points raised in response to my earlier post, I understand the one basic point. It's that there is an optimal revenue maximizing ticket price, and that price is set independently of expenses.

    But Anders, in your last post you explain that the reason baseball is different from, say, Dempsters, or the auto industry, has to do with elasticities of demand. When the price of wheat goes up, it goes up for all bread manufacturers, leaving consumers with no choice but to continue to buy the same amount of bread despite the cost increase. So it is the low elasticity of demand for bread that enables Dempsters to pass along the cost of the commodity increase.

    If the question of whether a cost increase can be passed along to consumers turns on elasticities, and these elasticities are always shifting, how can there be an iron-clad rule that cost increases in baseball are never passed onto the consumer?

    vw_fan17 - Monday, April 30 2012 @ 12:24 PM EDT (#255375) #
    If the question of whether a cost increase can be passed along to consumers turns on elasticities, and these elasticities are always shifting, how can there be an iron-clad rule that cost increases in baseball are never passed onto the consumer?

    A good point. I don't think ANY of us are saying that 100% of the ticket prices are based on salary. There is an "overhead cost" aspect to it as well (paying the groundskeepers, paying the people who sell the food, ticket salespeople, ushers, etc). As well, taxes, fuel costs, etc, etc. Those probably ARE factored into ticket prices. The cost of tickets DOES go up a little every year or two. And I think everyone accepts that.

    On the other hand, in 2007 (according to a very quick web search), opening day payroll was $82M. In 2008, $98M. Did tickets jump 20% on average? I doubt it. In 2011, it was $65M or so - that's only 2/3 of 2008. Have tickets dropped in price AT ALL since 2008? I doubt it.
    Beyonder - Monday, April 30 2012 @ 01:41 PM EDT (#255402) #
    I understood the group to be saying that none of the ticket prices are based on salary. I think they say that there is an optimal revenue maximizing ticket price that team owners will not stray from regardless of whether salaries are ten dollars or 100 million dollars. So as many posters have said, ticket prices are purely demand driven: they are not pushed higher by costs. If you admit that ticket prices are pushed higher by salary increases to any degree, then you agree with me.

    If the theory is as simple as that, then it should apply accross the board to all industries. There is also a revenue maximizing price for bread: yet the prices of bread go up when costs of materials required to make bread go up. Anders explained that Dempsters (a bread maker) can pass along cost increases to its customers becasue all producers experience the increase together, and because the elasticity of demand for bread is low. To this I say that elasticities of demand change all the time depending on any number of factors. If the question of whether a cost increase can be passed along to the consumer turns on elasticities of demand, then there cannot be a hard and fast rule that ticket prices are unnafected by salary increases. When they can be passed along to the consumer, they will be.

    Salaries for players are economically indistinguishable from salaries for groundskeepers in my view. If one affects ticket prices, so should the other.

    Your point in the last sentence doesn't get you where you want to go. There are many confounding factors that affect ticket prices, and even if there were not, I don't say that the relationship between ticket prices and salaries is lock-step.
    Mike Green - Monday, April 30 2012 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#255408) #
    I wonder which would have the tighter correlation to ticket price in year X, payroll in year X or W-L record the year before?  Ideally, you'd look at the clubs individually and compare the correlation over the decades. 
    bpoz - Monday, April 30 2012 @ 06:43 PM EDT (#255446) #
    Your words are very respectfully said Beyonder, I admire that. This discussion was getting annoying to me a little, but now it is fascinating and valuable to me, if I can learn something. I am still trying to raise teenagers.

    Well cheers everyone. A 2nd brandy is on its way.
    vw_fan17 - Tuesday, May 01 2012 @ 11:49 AM EDT (#255497) #
    I understood the group to be saying that none of the ticket prices are based on salary.

    And you are right. Sorry, I was in a hurry on that one, I think.. I meant demand.. Tickets aren't 100% based on demand - overhead costs also factor in a little, I would imagine..
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