Here at Red Reporter dot com, we’ve made a habit of trying to blend humor with analysis when it comes to the sport of baseball. Our dear Cincinnati Reds, of course, have been knee-deep in a rebuild since, oh, long enough, and that kind of copious turnover and losing certainly helped warp that approach.
The 2020 Reds were supposed to be our lifeboat, however. With cash splashed and an overabundance of talent imported into that rebuilt squad, this was going to be a year, man. A year with fun and energy and with a humor that hopefully would be much lighter than in years past. We’d laugh and joke and analyze and smile about how Mike Moustakas’ dinger-binge was totally predictable, his fly-ball tendencies and high-contact power a perfect match for home games in GABP. We’d giggle at the perfect platoon partnership of Jesse Winker and Phil Ervin in LF, each mashing opposite-handed pitching with dazzling derring-do. We’d do backflips as Kyle Boddy and the Driveline team kept unlocking more magic from the right arm of Luis Castillo, while also retrofitting Raisel Iglesias into the pitch-mench he once was.
It’s May 27th, and we’ve not had that opportunity, of course. And while the global pandemic and tragic loss of life worldwide have shuddered everything, much less baseball, we’ve finally reached the point where our hibernation might get a streak of sunlight peeking through.
At least, much of the world will. With baseball, though, we’re not seeing that lone streak of sunlight so much as we’re seeing it’s ass. It’s whole, entire ass.
Baseball, of late, has become big business. Huge business. Billions and billions and billions of dollars worth of business. And as the revenue flowed through, ownership of baseball clubs become less a side-project for otherwise wealthy individuals and more a conduit to grow that wealth, and the economic fallout of what we’ve seen from the pandemic has become the first thing in a quarter-century to begin to dent that otherwise impervious path.
Owners, for once, simply aren’t rolling in dough. On top of that, it seems that after rolling in dough for years and years and years, they haven’t well stashed much, if any, of it in readily accessible places. The inevitable result, of course, is that they’re trying to scratch and claw to hold on to as much of what’s left as they can, and that - not the pandemic itself - is now what’s the primary driver keeping baseball on the shelf.
The owners’ latest proposal to players, as Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs so eloquently breaks down, features a drastic slash of payroll, one that directly lops off a tremendous amount of would-be earnings of the most established, marketable, highly-compensated players in the game. In effect, it’s a proposal that will inevitably pit the two-tiers of the MLBPA against one another if things get testy, as the ‘haves’ will seemingly be impacted in a much bigger way than the ‘have-nots’ and ‘yet-to-haves.’ And it’s that latter group, the young players poised for greatness who haven’t yet accrued as much service time as needed to truly cash-in, that the union itself is designed to continue to fight for.
It stinks of the owners putting a low-ball offer on the table for the players to decline, giving baseball leverage to tout the false narrative that the players didn’t want to play this year. In the process, it’s just becoming increasingly obvious that this whole thing is about money, and the more it drags out, the harder it is to remove that lens and still watch this thing with starry eyes. Add-in the pending expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and the inevitable clash between MLB owners and the MLBPA over that in the coming year, and we’re only just beginning to see an ugly, ugly clash that will most likely cloud any action we get to see on the field for the next year, year and a half.
That ass is looking flabby, by the way, with Oakland even announcing last night that they won’t pay their minor leaguers - and no, that doesn’t mean they’re now free agents thanks to baseball’s effective monopoly.
Do some squats, baseball.
In other news about something baseball-related that does appear to actually be on-schedule to happen (albeit in a terribly reduced fashion), we’re right at two weeks away from the MLB Draft. Yesterday we broke down the merits of high school OF Austin Hendrick, who’s name continues to be linked to the Reds as a possible 1st round pick at #12, and today we’ll forward you on to some of the latest mock drafts.
Here’s Eric Longenhagen’s latest from FanGraphs, where he mentions Hendrick as a possible option while also leaning towards high school righty Mick Abel, a 6’5” flamethrower who’s committed to Oregon State and is the dude up yonder in that there picture. For more on Abel, you can check his player profile at Perfect Game.
Over at CBS Sports, they’re in on the Reds/Hendrick action, too, though reference a previous iteration of mocking where they had University of Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet as the pick. Obviously, when picking 12th, there are a number of different directions for things to go, so the idea that the Reds could run the spectrum of possibilities from high school bat to college arm is totally reasonable when you consider their strategy is ‘best player available’ and not ‘need.’
That’s echoed in Keith Law’s latest mock, too, which is admittedly two weeks old at this point. He’s got the Reds landing Florida State righty CJ Van Eyk, and does so with Hendrick still on the board in his draft.
Prospects365 has a different take, too - the Reds with a high school OF, but Zac Veen being the pick, not Hendrick, who comes off the board a pick later. Veen is a University of Florida commit who stands 6’4” and mauls meatballs with a vicious lefty swing.
That’s probably enough for today.