Bankruptcy trustee tells the Rangers to get new lawyers

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Many people thought it problematic when it was revealed several months ago that Tom Hicks was both (a) selling the Rangers; and (b) part of the ownership buying the Rangers.  Different capacities, sure, in that Tom Hicks the individual was buying from an entity — Hicks Sports Group — that Hicks just so happened to own and run, but it is the kind of thing that raises eyebrows among those who are not used to the often convoluted and incestuous world of closely-held corporations.

But public perception may not be the only problem. The trustee overseeing the Rangers’ bankruptcy has a problem with at least one aspect of the overall arrangement, and that involves the law firms.  Take it away Barry Shlachter:

Trustee William Neary asserted that all of the work – and millions
in fees – Weil Gotshal & Manges received from team owner Tom Hicks
jeopardized the fairness and transparency expected by the
public, including Rangers fans. Attorneys for the baseball
franchise are charged with acting in its best interests, not that
of the outgoing ownership.

“Undoubtedly, Weil
Gotshal & Manges’ role evolved and shifted as events
transpired before the bankruptcy case, but it was WGM’s responsibility
to focus on the conflicts issue,” Neary said in the filing with a
U.S. bankruptcy court in Fort Worth.

Weil Gotshal denies any suggestion that it was conflicted, of course.

My view: I’m just a dumb litigator who nobody ever let near the table when a complicated deal was being negotiated, but it’s not like having the same law firm all over a transaction like this has never happened before. There are a lot of ways to guard against conflicts when you have hundreds and hundreds of lawyers you can throw at a deal, many of whom don’t even know one another.  Best practice in the world? Nah, but it’s not, in and of itself, fatal.

In light of that my guess is that there was something specifically troublesome that either Hicks or the law firm was doing during the course of this deal that raised the ire of the trustee. These things tend to get ironed out pretty quickly, however, and my guess is that the law firm problem doesn’t cause any big hiccup in a deal that has enough other hiccups.

Lloyd McClendon will return as Tigers’ hitting coach in 2017

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 05:  Manager Lloyd McClendon #21 of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the six inning at Coliseum on July 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.

McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.