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.
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.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.