UPDATE: I received a call from someone with the Greenberg group. They couldn’t explicitly comment because of confidentiality agreements, but they deny the report that there is anything amiss with financing and say that everything is going just fine.
Fair enough. The way it breaks down right now, however, is that I have a source I trust and who has no dog in the hunt telling me that there are issues with the financing. I have a party with an undeniable interest in the matter telling me that all is hunky dory. Absent anything new, I am going to stick with the report as it currently stands. Greenberg has a window to negotiate. If he has a deal at the end of all of this, we’ll know that, ultimately, there weren’t any problems (or at least the problems were overcome). If it falls through, we’ll know differently.
3:02 P.M.: A source is telling me that that the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group’s bid for the Rangers is in trouble. Money trouble, specifically, as in they’re having problems putting financing together and it has Major League Baseball concerned that the bid may not be viable. Tom Hicks — who stands to be a minority stakeholder in the Greenberg group and desperately needs to sell the team to save his Hicks Sports Group — is freaking out.
You’ll recall that Greenberg’s group beat out the MLB-favored bid led by former agent Dennis Gilbert and the reportedly highest bid by Houston businessman Jim Crane. What they won was an exclusive negotiating window. It may have been the Hicks/Nolan Ryan factor more than the merits of the bid that won the day, however, because even before this report there were whispers that Greenberg, while a great minor league operator, may not have the financial wherewithal to pull this off.
If the Greenberg bid falls through, it’s back to square one. Specifically, it would mean that the Rangers would be left with Gilbert, for whom Nolan Ryan said he would not work, and Crane,
who everyone who matters in Major League baseball hates because he reneged on a previous bid for a team (UPDATE: Apparently hatchets, to the extent they ever were wielded along these lines have been buried. I missed this over the weekend. Apologies).
Merry Christmas Rangers fans!
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.