Creditors reject Greenberg's latest offer

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Chuck Greenberg keeps telling everyone who will listen that there’s nothing to worry about, the sale of the Rangers will close by April 1, and all will be happy and sunshine. Events on the ground, however, continue to make such a scenario less and less likely. According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily:

Hicks Sports Group creditors late last week again turned down terms for the
sale of the Rangers, continuing to throw into question when the ballclub will
be sold, sources said.

To review, under terms of the initial deal, the creditors were to get $230 million in cash. They want $300 million and have at least claimed that they’d throw the team into bankruptcy court in order to get it.  Now, to be fair, the odds of actually collecting that amount in bankruptcy court are rather small, and that’s before you even figure in the legal fees and hassle. But that’s the posture anyway, and each time Greenberg has attempted to get the deal done, they’ve said no dice.

Last week’s back and forth had Greenberg upping the offer to $240 million or $275 million depending on who you believe (the $275 million figure was supposed to contain deferred money).  $30-$60 million ain’t hay, so it’s not like you can expect the creditors to simply say “ah, screw it, let’s just round down” any more than you can expect Greenberg to simply say “ah screw it, I’ll just write you a check to get it done.”

This doesn’t mean Greenberg doesn’t end up with the Rangers at some point. It does, however, yet again, render the rosy “every little thing gonna be alright” jazz he’s been peddling since December increasingly silly.  Deals of this size get derailed over far less than $60 million, and even if they end up going through, a difference in that amount can utterly destroy the timeline.

Upshot: there’s a very real possibility that the Rangers may spend another season, or at least a good chunk of it, in the same kind of financial limbo they were in last year. A year in which they had to beg MLB for loans.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.