The Chicago Cubs are cursed? I think not.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, the Arizona House of Representatives has approved a measure to raise money to keep the Cubs from moving to Florida and to “generate more than $100 million for improvements to facilities across the Valley over the next 30 years.”
Arizona Rep. John McComish, R-Phoenix, is pushing the surcharge in House Bill 2736, despite opposition from the other Cactus League teams.
The original plan would raise $81 million over 25 years and included a $1 car rental fee and an 8 percent Spring Training ticket surcharge. McComish dropped the car rental fee and boosted the ticket surcharge to 10 percent in hopes of raising $185 million over 30 years.
The plan now goes to the Senate, with more negotiations on the way. The rest of the Cactus League teams are against the plan, which is understandable. I wouldn’t want to be taxed to help my neighbor build a new house. They can move to Florida for all I care.
But then again, it’s also a little shortsighted. After all, my neighbors don’t do anything to help me make money. The same can’t be said of the Cubbies, who are the top draw in Arizona and according to one study, bring in $138 million annually to the local economy. According to Muskat’s story, nine of the top 10 attended Cactus League games have been Cubs games.
So what’s good for the Cubs, is good for all the teams in Arizona. You think the Grapefruit League would let the Yankees leave? Didn’t think so.
Then again, the Cubs are one of the top money-making teams in the majors, so maybe they should build their own stadium. Like that will ever happen.
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According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.