We’ve noted how the Ricketts Family is all about getting the government to help them out with the Cubs, be it financing their new spring training complex in Arizona or paying for renovations to their ballpark in Illinois. Par for the course as far as baseball owners go. Those guys are always at the public trough.
But I wasn’t aware until this morning — thanks to a post over at Windy City Watch — that Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the Ricketts family, is the founder and primary funding source for a political outfit with the sole purpose of limiting wasteful government spending. Check out his video here, in which he talks about how he left the Democratic Party back in the 60s because LBJ spent too much money. Guess it doesn’t count when the money is being used to benefit billionaires and their businesses.
But that’s just a cynical reaction on my part. I’m sure the Rickettses can explain to me how those positions jibe together. And I’ll give them the opportunity: I’m going to call both Ricketts’ group — Taxpayers Against Earmarks — and the Chicago Cubs and ask them if they see any inconsistencies between their patriarch’s political activism and their seemingly insatiable hunger for public money. I’ll let you know what I hear.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.