The Rangers file for bankruptcy

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We’re still light on the details (Maury has the press release and some analysis), but the Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning. It was a voluntary filing that is being characterized as a “prepackaged” bankruptcy proceeding, which means that all the terms of the bankruptcy are agreed
to before filing, which can result in a shorter turnaround time.  The team is characterizing it as a necessary step to allow Hicks Sports Group to sell the team to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan. The target date according to the filing: “midsummer.” You may recall that the Cubs did something like this prior to their sale to the Ricketteseseses.

This just came down so the details are still a bit sketchy, but something that sticks out to me is that the creditors of Hicks Sports Group — the ones who have been causing all the problems — aren’t part of the filing. If that’s the case, how could they have agreed to the terms of the “prepackaging?” Moreover, the verbiage in the press release says that the deal will provide “for all Rangers creditors to be paid in full.”  That can’t be technically right, because if there is enough money in the sale to fully satisfy all outstanding debts, the bankruptcy filing — which basically says that part X owes creditors more money than it has — would be tossed out, right?  This deal can’t be a “paid in full” thing. It has to be a “we’ve been paid enough to be happy” thing.

Another possibility — a pretty good one actually — is that there is separate deal in place between Hicks Sports Group and the creditors to settle the outside debt on some sort of payment plan or something else, but to do it outside the framework of the Rangers sale.*  If that were the case it would not necessarily have to be a part of this bankruptcy case. We just don’t know, however, based merely on the terms of the bankruptcy filing.  I will say that it would be pretty reckless for the team to file like this without any creditor signoff, official or otherwise, because it would invite the sort of proceeding — creditors going deep into the Rangers’ business — that they had been threatening to do back when they were at each others’ throats.

The primary upshot: there has to more going on here than meets the press release, probably in the form of some backroom dealing that will (a) keep the dirty financial laundry of the Rangers, Hicks and Major League Baseball out of bankruptcy court discovery proceedings but (b) makes the creditors happy. Otherwise, there’s no point to this filing.

Secondary upshot: if this is going down as the Rangers say it is, the team will be out of ownership limbo within a couple of months and, hopefully, able to resume normal operations, sign draft picks and add payroll in a way that a team in their competitive position should.

More on this, obviously, as the story develops.

*I’m aware that most of the debt at issue is not technically owed by the Rangers — it’s owed by Hicks Sports Group, thereby meaning that the big creditors like Monarch Alternative Captial couldn’t really go after the Rangers. But that’s kind of beside the point. All along these creditors have been making noises about dragging the team itself into bankruptcy if they weren’t paid, and it the suggestion has been strong that they would try to advance legal theories — however novel — that would allow them to encumber the team in order to get the money they are owed by Hicks.  For MLB and the Rangers to make this filing today, they have to think that such a move is not a threat.  This underscores my belief that some sort of side deal between Hicks and the creditors has to have taken place.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.