MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are inquiring about big name pitchers such as Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Poor Sullivan. Now Buster Olney and everyone is going to tell him how full of it he is. Sad.
There is nothing imminent on any front and the club has not confirmed
its interest in Lee, or any other player. The Rangers still have
financial issues that must be considered in any trade discussions.
But the Rangers are actively making it known they are looking for
pitching and they haven’t been afraid of asking about some of the big
names available including Lee and Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Both pitchers
could be available at some point this summer but have not been actively
shopped to this point . . . Assistant general manager Thad Levine, who is with the team in Florida,
declined to discuss specific names but did acknowledge the Rangers’
pursuit of pitching.
We can quibble about what one means by the word “preliminary,” but all of this is consistent with my report earlier this week about the Rangers talking to Houston about Roy Oswalt. Given the financial approvals that are required, even agreeing in principle to the players who would change teams — as my sources say the Rangers and Astros did — would qualify as “preliminary” in my book.
As Sullivan notes, however, once the Rangers’ bankruptcy is in the past — which could happen very soon, as the court is scheduled to rule on it all on Tuesday — the financial constraints will be lifted, the Rangers will be able to add some money to offers that already include some of the prospects from their top-shelf system and they will likely be able to land anyone they want.
Cliff Lee would make the most sense because he’s relative cheap and happens to be the best pitcher available. Oswalt would make some sense too because he won’t require as many prospects and Texas fans like him a hell of a lot. Either way, the Rangers are likely to do some damage before July 31st.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.