My immediate interest in the Rangers’ sale has waned in the past week because (1) the fact that they traded for Cliff Lee means that they’ve made their big on-the-field move and thus getting the sale done before the trade deadline isn’t as pressing for baseball purposes as it seemed before; and (2) with all of the motions, cross-motions, requests for injunctions and all of that jazz, it’s starting to remind me of the old law gig, frankly, and that’s a real drag for me.
But I do feel duty-bound to keep up, and I thus am obliged to pass along word — gleaned from Daniel Kaplan’s latest at SBJ and Barry Shlachter’s reports in the Dallas Morning News — that the bankruptcy judge yesterday set the auction for the team for August 4th. It had originally been scheduled for July 22nd, but the Greenberg/Ryan lawsuit — which the judge has decided to treat as a mere motion in the ongoing case as opposed to its own thing — and other events have made the earlier date impossible. The creditors wanted to push things out even farther, but the judge said no dice. The auction date should be seen as a win for Greenberg and Ryan.
Other news of note: After months of suggestions that he would not be approved, Major League Baseball is now apparently fine with Jim Crane as an owner in the event that he wins the bid. Jeff Beck too, though that was less in question than Crane, seeing as baseball was fine with him back in December when he was part of the Dennis Gilbert bid. I assume that means that the auction is the real deal — highest bidder wins — with an MLB veto not coming into play. There will need to be formal approval (i.e. an owner vote) later, but that should be a formality once all of this legal messiness is over. I mean, really, how badly would Bud Selig crush, say, Fred Wilpon if he decided to be a pain in the butt about this after all the trouble everyone has gone through?
The judge said that, assuming the auction goes off smoothly, the team could emerge from bankruptcy that day. Viva efficiency.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP