Steinbrenner sued over the YES Network; Plaintiff has no chance

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Bob Gutkowski, who used to be the president of the MSG Network is suing George Steibrenner, claiming that Big Stein stole his idea for the YES Network and reneged on promises that Gutkowski would be given a job and all of the kind of stuff that goes along with those kinds of claims.  YES is now supposed to be worth $3 billion, so it’s a pretty significant claim.

So too was a lawsuit I once defended when I was in private practice.  The claim — and I am not making this up — was filed by an inmate in a prison in southern Ohio who claimed that he invented the idea of the Happy Meal and the Value Meal when he worked at McDonalds when he was a teenager.  The complaint, which was written in pencil, sought $100 billion.  My client, McDonalds, paid my firm to defend the claim, but it’s not like they were too worried about it.  And yes, I won.

I suppose Mr. Gutkowski’s claims have a bit more factual basis than the inmate’s, but I question whether he’ll have any more success.

For one thing, he seems like he’d have a statute of limitations problem. The YES Network debuted in 2002.  I’m guessing Mr. Gutkowski knew well before then that he wasn’t getting a piece of it or a job with it.  But even if he didn’t, the statute of limitations for contract and fraud claims in New York is six years. Most other torts are three years.  All of those dates have run, even if we started the running from the network’s March 19, 2002 debut.  I’m assuming he has some novel theory as to why he didn’t have to file his lawsuit before now, but those kinds of theories tend not to work too well when they’re asserted by wealthy, grown-up businessmen who should know better.

There’s also a tactical problem.  I haven’t seen the complaint, but the allegations seem to hinge on conversations Gutkowski had with George Steinbrenner.  The same George Steinbrenner who is basically a recluse these days, most likely because he is suffering from dementia of some sort.  Maybe Gutkowski was banking on winning because Steinbrenner couldn’t really defend himself. Maybe he’s thinking the Yankees might buy him off so they don’t have to file papers in a lawsuit explaining Steinbrenner’s incompetence to testify.

The problem, though, is that (a) courts tend to protect the incompetent, not punish them; and (b) the Yankees are a business, not some 18th century monarchy, so they’re not going to pay off this guy simply to avoid revealing to the masses that the king isn’t well.  If this turns into a P.R. war over George’s health, the Yankees are going to win it.

So I guess I’ll give this guy an E for effort and a T for nice try, but this lawsuit smells like a loser.

Bryce Harper on potential $400 million contract: “Don’t sell me short.”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.

When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.

During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.

Frankie Montas out 2-4 months after rib resection surgery

Chicago White Sox pitcher Frankie Montas throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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Per Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA, the Dodgers announced that pitching prospect Frankie Montas will be out two to four months after undergoing rib resection surgery to remove his right first rib.

The Dodgers acquired Montas from the White Sox in a three-team trade in December 2015 that also involved the Reds. The 22-year-old made his big league debut with the Pale Hose last season, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 15 innings across two starts. Montas had spent the majority of his season at Double-A Birmingham, where he posted a 2.97 ERA with 108 strikeouts and 48 walks in 112 innings.

MLB.com rated Montas as the 95th-best prospect in baseball, slipping a few spots from last year’s pre-season ranking of 91.

Athletics acquire Khris Davis in trade with Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis swings on a home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash
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The Brewers’ rebuild continues, as the club announced on Twitter the trade of outfielder Khris Davis to the Athletics in exchange for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s have designated pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster for Davis.

Davis, 28, was the Brewers’ most valuable remaining trade chip. He blasted 27 home runs while hitting .247/.323/.505 in 440 plate appearances this past season in Milwaukee. Adding to his value, Davis won’t become eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season. In Oakland, Davis will give the Athletics more reliability as Coco Crisp was injured for most of last season and is now 36 years old. Though he doesn’t have much of a career platoon split, Davis split time in left field with the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra last season. It’s unclear if the A’s will utilize him in a platoon as well.

With Davis out of the picture, Domingo Santana is a leading candidate to start in left field for the Brewers, GM David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Nottingham, 20, started the 2015 season in the Astros’ system but went to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal. He hit an aggregate .316/.372/.505 at Single-A, showing plenty of promise early in his professional career. With catcher Jonathan Lucroy on his way out of Milwaukee, the Brewers are hoping Nottingham can be their next permanent backstop.

Derby, 21, made his professional debut last season after the Athletics drafted him in the sixth round. Across 37 1/3 innings, he yielded seven runs (five earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks with 47 strikeouts. He’s obviously a few years away from the majors, but the Brewers are looking for high upside.

Yankees, Aroldis Chapman avoid arbitration at $11.325 million

Aroldis Chapman
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided arbitration, settling on an $11.325 million salary for the 2016 season. It is the lefty’s third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

Chapman had filed for $13 million while the Yankees countered at $9 million, so he gets slightly more than the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

With the Reds this past season, Chapman posted a 1.63 ERA with 33 saves and a 116/33 K/BB ratio over 66 1/3 innings. The Reds have opted to rebuild, so they traded him to the Yankees this offseason in exchange for four minor leaguers. Chapman, who turns 28 at the end of February, will make for a fearsome 1-2-3 punch in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen along with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.