Joel Sherman weighs in today with an interesting thought about how the state of the economy could alter the baseball landscape from a personnel standpoint:
Because I see it as a natural progression of the offseason, with a pseudo-free agency in June, July and August that could lead to Roy Halladay being this year’s CC Sabathia (something even Halladay’s general manager J.P. Ricciardi did not discount).
Why? Because the economy is bad, and not even the most Pollyanna-ish forecast sees significant improvement by the All-Star Game. So this is a bad year to start poorly.
As one AL executive said, “Most teams base their business model on a certain level of ticket sales. Then I look at teams like Detroit, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh and Washington and think, if they struggle early, who is going to their games after the first month or two? You are not going to see a survivable 5 percent decrease in attendance. You are going to see attendance drop much more than that. Once those teams are not relevant, they are done.”
Translation: Start 10-25 and ownership could demand the sell-off of expensive players even if the trade return is miniscule. Just get someone to take the money. Pseudo-free agency.
Imagine the feeding frenzy that would occur if players like Halladay, Oswalt, Harang, and Ordonez all became available at the deadline. Assuming all three AL East teams are still contending at that point, I could see them fighting over the same players to try and get an edge over each other. It should make for an interesting season for those who have the money to weather the storm. Furthermore, it also means that teams who may have a decent shot at making a second half run for the postseason will instead sell off their players so as not to risk ending up in the red if the team flops. For example, last year’s Astros’ nearly made the postseason, but likely would have sold off some parts at midseason in an economic climate such as the one that exists today. We are more likely to see a large gap between the good and bad teams this season than we have seen in a while.
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