Minor league baseball teams are being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus shutdown, per Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. With the shutdown coming so close to the start of the season, many minor league teams had already spent money in preparation for the season – money they aren’t likely to recoup. Some teams will consider small business loans to stay afloat, but there’s too much uncertainty to forecast too far into the future. The livelihoods of the many part-time workers that help keep minor league ballparks functioning is a primary concern, of course, but there’s definitely the possibility of losing a minor league team or two wholesale. Cooper says this of the issue, “The numbers vary, but without significant help from the government or others, estimates from people inside MiLB range from 10 to 40 MiLB clubs that may struggle to make it through the season.” Let’s head north of the border for some more updates…
- Bo Bichette has been keeping his arm loose, trying to keep a routine and stay prepared, but with the layoff stretching longer than initially expected, he’s considering taking some time off from the even most basic baseball activities, per TSN’s Scott Mitchell. There are obviously bigger issues at play here, which is why Bichette has no problem backburnering his career for the time being while focusing on social distancing. That said, in the distant background of Mitchell’s article, the question of ballplayer health arises. It will be an interesting one to track when/if the season does get underway.
- Speaking of complications from the current crisis, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hopes the current layoff pushes the league and players’ union to find some common ground when it comes to eventual collective bargaining. Frederickson provides a quote from Andrew Miller, who captured the sentiment of many when he said “The finances of the game, whether it’s from the player or the owner perspective, it’s in everybody’s best interest to get games going.”
- John Axford was mounting a comeback bid before COVID-19 rearranged everyone’s priorities, per the Canadian Press at Sportsnet.ca. Axford sustained a stress fracture in his right elbow during spring training last year, missing the entire season while recovering. The once-mustachioed Axford last appeared in the majors for the Blue Jays and Dodgers in 2018, sustaining some bad luck en route to a 5.27 ERA across 50 outings. A 3.98 FIP suggests the underlying output from Axford deserves a second look. Over his ten year career, Axford made 543 appearances for the Brewers, A’s, Rockies, Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers, Indians and Blue Jays, though no stop was more noteworthy than his early days in Milwaukee, which included a 46-save season in 2011. In total, he notched 144 career saves with a 3.87 ERA/3.67 FIP. Whether Axford gets another chance at cracking an MLB roster remains to be seen, but he’s keeping his options open for now.