The Beat Goes On

…THE BEAT GOES ON……There is a beat.. a rhythm..to each sports season. It’s a different beat for each sports and often different from year-year.
….the MLB off-season sees the its beat closing down on training camp. Usually by this time, we have seen the newest multi-millionaires sign huge, multi-year contracts. This year with 330ish free agents in the MLB, the beat has really slowed down for the free agents. Thus far, we have 4 players have signed contracts for more than 2 years with huge multi-million Dollar contracts. The most recent-George Springer signed for 6 year/$150m with Toronto. Catcher James McCann was the 1st to sign a 4 year-$40m contract. Reliever Liam Hendricks inked a CWS contract for 3 years-%54m. Another big winner was DJ Lemahieu—6 yr-$90m guaranteed contract with the NYY.
….Now…couple factors in Lemahieu’s signing…it WAS the Yankees. NYY start spending lavishly with Babe Ruth. In 1927, Babe signed for $70,000. It sounds like peanuts today…but 94 years ago, that was equivalent around $40m in today’s world! He signed for $70,000 for 3 straight years—27-28-29. And.. the Great Depression was from 1929-33!
…if you WERE going to give away the bank…..do it on a terrific player. LaMahieu’s first 8 years were in Colorado, so many…probably…most…thought his high batting marks were due to the elevation. Last year at ground level New York, LaMahieu led the league in batting-.364; #1 in AL in OB%-.421 (translates to getting on base 2 of every 5 AB); #1 in AL in OPS-1.011…and many other impressive numbers. Sooo…. the Yanks saw that he was the real thing.
… Meanwhile, the beat has changed for George Springer. The BlueJays just signed him for 6 years, $150m. I’m surprised that the Blue Jays went in so deep with Springer. I still can’t shake the Asstroes 2019 trash-can banging scheme to assist batters. Springer posted career high numbers in 2019 in almost all batting categories- .292-avg, 39 HR, OBP-.383, slugging %-.591. He..and most of the other Asstroes… were totally different batters in 2019. I’m skeptical of his success being even close to those 2019 numbers. Further, the lineup around him isn’t like Houston’s….the beat will be different for him.
…the MLB salaries have a wide range of different “beats”. The average MLB salary in 2020 was $4.43m yet about 65% of the players are paid $1m or less for the season. Sooo..there are few players driving the average salary way, way up with their stupendous contracts. Now….most of us would be thrilled with the minimum $555,000 salary. However, pro athletes are like movie stars….they march to a totally different financial “beat”. The top movie stars can “make” a movie in around 3.5 months and earn $15m-20m for their work. Why don’t movie fans complain about their salaries? Oh…and if they swing & miss in a scene….they do it over!
…..soooo…what does this mean…what beat are the players marching to? From my chair, I see the owners holding back…waiting until spring training is on the very near horizon and the players may begin to wiggle a bit about their playing status & salary. I believe that should this “beat” continue that free agent players WILL be signing for less money…for sure, less money than they originally expected. Or, the larger contracts will be for only 1 or 2 years …not too many more of the long multiple year contracts. With the uncertainty of crowds, the owners aren’t about to agree to sizable contracts w/o the guarantee of fans in the seats like last year’s horrific deal (from the owners perspective).
….This may really work out well for the Cards. The DeWitt’s can read these different “beats” as well as anyone. The DeWitt’s realize that the loyal StL fan are restless with the current lineup. Look for the Cards to sign a LH batting OF for 1 year for $3-5m. An infusion of an established MLB player could ignite some energy in the base again. Maybe LH batting, Nomar Mazara (who dropped off at the plate last year)? Jurickson Profar? He could play 2b(hit .278 last year)…sending Tommy Edman back to OF to alternate w/Bader-O’Neill. Profar would have to accept less than last year-$5.7m…but not much less. Forget Joc Pederson–too expensive & he’s another BB, K, HR guy who batted .190 last year.
…certainly marching to a different…more uptempo beat….are the Chicago White Sox. The Sox had already stockpiled several very talented young batters in the past few years. A solid cast of returning players— SS Tim Anderson has back-back .300+ seasons. Power hitting Jose Abreau has 200ish HR in his 6+ seasons as the ideal #4 batter in the lineup. 26 year old 3B, Yoan Moncada should be at the peak of his solid career. Exciting OF Luis Robert is expected to improve on his rookie season where he flashed signs of stardom. DH Eloy Jimenez blasted 31 HR in 2019 and was on pace to the do same with a full season last year. Veteran Adam Eaton was acquired to get some runners in front of these HR sluggers that follow him in the lineup. In addition, the Sox went out to strengthen their weak pitching of past years. On the mound, ace 27 year old Lucas Giolato returns and should be at the top of his game. Workhorse Lance Lynn was acquired to add wins but also….from my view to add a mental toughness, nastiness to the staff. Dallas Keuchel adds the veteran steadiness and young “prospect” Michael Kopech is expected to finally bloom. The Sox added Tony LaRussa to guide this team with his winning experience…they were already 35-25 last year (10 games over .500). ….Further, ..like the NL.. the AL Central Division is the weakest of the AL. The Twins won the division last year but are losing free agents ace-Jake Odorizzi and ageless slugger Nelson Cruz . Falling free-fall, Cleveland has regressed severely with a TEAM salary base of $23m …for the entire team…last in the MLB! Meanwhile KC & Detroit continue running on their “rebuild” treadmill as they have for years now.
….on the ice, the Blues are skating to a different “beat” thus far. The losses of Pietrangelo, Bouwmeestser & Gunnarson this year seems to have our defense…especially killing power plays… following a new, slower “beat”. From my limited view, our defense against the power plays has permitted too much open ice in the middle of the ice. The angles & shape of our defenders against the power play just don’t look right to me. We appear to be “running all around”….usually 1 step behind. Losing Petro was expected to give the Blues a jolt…and it has! Using the 2019-20 stats… The DPS (def Pt Shares—estimated contribution of points by a player due to his defense), Pietrangelo had the highest mark of any Blue with 4.3. Bouwmeester was 4th with a 2.9 mark, Gunnarson was 8th-1.8. the OPS (estimated contribution by a player due to his Offense) had Petro #2 @ 4.8. The Blues are missing…. perhaps, more than expected…. the play of those players.
….marching successfully to a very quiet…but strong ..beat around the StL area are the UMSL basketball teams. The Men’s team is now 9-2 under Coach Bob Sunvold. Sunvold has led the team to back-back 20 win seasons—1st time in school history. Last year’s team 27-6 team posted a school best .818% winning percentage. That club had been offered a NCAA bid but covid put the halt on the team just as they were boarding the bus for the trip. Sunvold has the 3rd highest number of wins in UMSL history & holds the highest win percentage of those top 3. The Womens’ 8-4 team is led by Kate Vaughn. Coach Vaughn holds the record for the MOST WINS & the Highest Winning Percentage of any UMSL Womens’ Basketball Coach.. except for a coach of 1 year in the early days of UMSL W- Bball.
….Well….my beat is coming to a halt. Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on my web site—www.bobryansportsblog.com. Or…send them to me & I’ll publish them for you. Thanks!!

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