Going to the game creates tons of trash. The Seattle Mariners are pushing to get Safeco Field to a zero waste status
It's not news that MLB teams place an emphasis on recycling. That's been the case for years, particularly since 2005, when MLB became the first professional sports league to partner with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Yet even with the adoption of recycling and other 'green' practices, teams recognize there are improvements they can make and goals they can achieve. The Seattle Mariners are helping lead the way in that department by recycling and composting the bulk of the concession items they serve customers, a breakthrough in their recycling program.
Rather than send single-use products such as straws, cups and hot dog trays to the landfill, the Mariners now recycle and compost them. Other items which follow that process include pizza boxes, lids, cutlery, plates, drink trays and even waste bags provided to those in Safeco Field's suites.
The Mariners became aware of the idea before the 2010 season via the San Francisco Giants, who increased their recycling rate at AT&T Park by 57 percent from 2008 to 2009. The manner in which the Giants accelerated their recycling program's effectiveness, attaining a 75 percent rate in '09, caught the attention of the Mariners.
While at an annual meeting with MLB operations executives prior to the '10 campaign, the Mariners compared notes with the Giants to find out how that 57 percent figure had occurred. The Mariners discovered what was holding back their recycling rate, which stood at 38 percent at Safeco Field following the '09 season.
"We realized that if we started to buy compostable service ware, we could eliminate the landfill component from the front of the house," said Scott Jenkins, the Mariners' Vice President of Ballpark Operations.
The Mariners began working with Cedar Grove Composting, a local waste management business, and through there opened a supply line to buy compostable products. The number of recyclable/compostable food service products approved by Cedar Grove has grown from 70 to over 600 in just a couple years, said Susan Thoman, Director of Public Affairs for Cedar Grove.
"They're all the major manufacturers throughout the U.S. and internationally," Thoman said of the companies which make the products that changed the Mariners' recycling program. "They actually come to Cedar Grove to get their products tested for whether they can be composted in a commercial system."
What the new service ware products meant to the Mariners was an increase from that 38 percent rate in '09 to 70 percent for 2010. That figure improved to 79 percent for 2011. The uptick in recycling and composting allowed the Mariners to save $72,000 in landfill costs in '10, according to Jenkins. The team will save $95,000 in landfill costs this year. The Mariners project the landfill weight diverted this year to be 974 tons, which is slightly under 2 million pounds. A 90 percent recycling rate is Jenkins' next goal, which is a number that might not have seemed achievable in 2005.
The Mariners produced a 12 percent recycling rate that year. It rose to 18 percent in '06, 25 percent in '07 and 31 percent in '08, a year in which Jenkins said they collected and recycled 4,000 tons of material at Safeco Field. That number shot up to 12,000 tons in 2010. By that point, the club had been charting its recycling program on spreadsheets or, as Jenkins called it, keeping score.
"It gave us the ability to benchmark our performance...to see who was performing well and to learn from those people," Jenkins said.
That has been helped, in part, by MLB's Green Tracks program. Through the partnership with the NRDC, Green Tracks provides a centralized data collection system for teams. They can input their recycling details, energy and water consumption, paper purchasing numbers and other critical metrics to understand what's being consumed. From there, teams can figure out how to make their conservation efforts more efficient.
The Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians kicked off MLB's hot stove season Monday when the Braves sent 38-year-old pitcher Derek Lowe and financial considerations to Cleveland for minor-league pitcher Chris Jones.
Atlanta will be on the hook for $10 million of Lowe's $15 million salary in the final year of the four-year, $60 million contract the Braves signed him to prior to the 2009 season. In his three years in Atlanta, Lowe compiled a 40-39 record with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. The emergence of rookies Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, the return of Kris Medlen (who missed most of 2011 following Tommy John surgery), and the arrival of promising prospects Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran, and Arodys Vizcaino leaves the Braves with an abundance of viable end-of-the-rotation options, thus rendering Lowe expendable.
The Braves' pitching depth wasn't the only factor leading to the trade, however. Lowe's 2011 season (9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP) was easily the worst of his 15-year career, and his trademark sinker lost its effectiveness due to a drop in velocity. During the Braves' September collapse, Lowe lost all five of his starts and posted a horrid 8.74 ERA. The Indians, who will be without Carlos Carrasco in 2012 following Tommy John surgery, are hoping their relatively inexpensive $5 million investment in Lowe will result in the veteran returning to the solid form which saw him win 31 games in 2009-10.
The money saved in the trade leaves Atlanta with about $10 million to spend this offseason, writes mlb.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves could use upgrades at shortstop and left field, where Alex Gonzalez (.241/.270/.372) and Martin Prado (.260/.302/.385) struggled offensively. Gonzalez is a free agent and Prado will be needed to spell Chipper Jones at third base on occasion. Atlanta ranked 22nd in MLB in runs scored, and its outfield production was among the league's worst despite the mid-season acquisition of Michael Bourn. Among potential free agent options, Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham would both provide the power that Atlanta's outfield has consistently lacked (Jason Heyward returning to his 2010 form would help, too). At shortstop, Jose Reyes is out of Atlanta's price range, but Jimmy Rollins might not be. Signing the three-time All-Star would add speed and pop to a lineup sorely lacking both while simultaneously putting a dent in the rival Phillies.
Based on an annual report released by the MLB Players Association, the average salary in MLB for the 2011 season was $3,095,183, up $80,611 or 3 percent from 2010. The Yankees lead all clubs with the highest player payroll by mean at $6,538,959 for 32 players followed by the Phillies (mean of $6,436,684 for 28 players), and Red Sox (mean of $5,207,725) as the same 1,2,3 ranking by average payroll as last year.
The Angels jump from an end of year ranking of 13 to 4 this year, presumably due to the Vernon Wells trade posting an average salary by mean at $4,584,746 for 28 players.
At the bottom end, the Royals posted the lowest mean of $1,335,672 for 26 players).
Twenty-one players with 100 or more games at first base led all positions with the highest average salary of $8,899,486.
SELECT READ MORE TO SEE AVERAGE SALARY BY MAJOR LEAGUE SERVICE TIME
In this edition of Bizball Radio it'ss all about Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers, and how the club made it happen. Maury goes into detail on how the Rangers television deal is worth $3 million or more, as opposed to a lower number that has been making the rounds. He also talks about a key hire for the Rangers that will help bring in international sponsorships. Finally, Seth and Maury talk about how the AL West is becoming an arms race between the Angels and Rangers like the battle between the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East. (See How Television Money and International Sponsorships Allowed the Rangers to Win the Yu Darvish Posting Fee Derby on Baseball Prospectus for further details)