It has been an utterly fantastic nine days down here in Arizona, but alas, it is time for me to head back to the Great Midwest. But before I let that big ol’ jet airliner take me far away, let’s take a look back at what we learned during this little odyssey through the Cactus League:
- While I’d say that the Cactus League is better than the Grapefruit League in terms of convenience and baseball-bang-for-your-buck, it does lack a bit of that event feel you get in Florida. Although, really, that doesn’t come close to outweighing Arizona’s advantages. If your team is in Florida, sure, you’re going to want to go there. But if the point is to simply consume a metric-crap-ton of baseball, you want to come to Arizona.
- Though we may never learn if it is possible for spring training facilities to be too cushy, the Diamondbacks and Rockies are pushing he envelope.
- Kirk Gibson expects you to Deal With It.
- Henry Blanco is slow, but he’s faster than you.
- Between TT Roadhouse and the place where the Giants train, there is just enough in Scottsdale to spare it from being thrown up against the wall when the revolution comes.
- But no matter what happens, this dude is gonna be up against that wall.
- Brian Wilson: corporate shill? Tim Lincecum: buying pre-weathered iPad holders? Miguel Tejada: comedian?
- Urge … to be … a fanboy … rising!
- Mike Trout is humble, Vernon Wells is Fonzie and Matt Kemp looks like a new man.
- People freak out about clouds here in Arizona.
- My lawsuit against Ryan Hanigan and the Reds over my getting hit by a baseball is in the planning stages. Hanigan said sorry, but he can stuff his sorries in a sack!
- I still have this feeling that my educating a South Korean journalist about footlong chili dogs may set back international relations decades, but if I had to do it over again I wouldn’t change a thing.
- FYI: Marty Brennaman is not Bob Uecker.
- I like Mike Quade. But seriously dude: try to keep your players from fighting, OK?
- If Zelous Wheeler gets a start, it must be spring training.
- Hey Ladies!
- A picture of a chili dog with crushed up Fritos and topped off with jalapeño peppers that was damn nigh the death of me.
- Jeff Francoeur may have been my white whale, but he ended up being pretty benign. And this caused me some consternation.
- In which I invent an imaginary conversation between George Brett and Kevin Seitzer.
- Patience, Royals fans: the future is bright.
- The place the A’s train may have been built by Communists 50 years ago, but I kind of like it.
- There is nothing quite like the brigade of Japanese reporters who cover Hideki Matsui. But at least they’re fun.
- I’m glad cooler heads prevailed, but getting my ass kicked in what would have almost certainly been portrayed in the media as a racial incident would have made for great blogging.
- Don’t look now, but I think gophers have infested the field at Camelback Ranch.
- Which, strangely enough, may actually have helped Adam Dunn’s defense at first.
- Ozzie Guillen is a cool customer and Dan Haren is a model of … well, he’s just a model.
With that I gotta catch the Super Chief back east to home and hearth. It’s been real, folks. Next time you hear from me I’ll be back in my fortified compound on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio speaking truth to power or whatever it is I like to pretend that I do around here.
See you next year, Spring Training.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The Dodgers last owner, Frank McCourt, was a mainstay of the gossip pages. The new administration has been pretty drama free since taking over five years ago. That is, until now.
Multiple outlets, ranging from the New York Post to the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting on a scandal brewing at Guggenheim Partners, the multi-billion investment firm led by Mark Walter, its CEO. Walter is also the head of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the offshoot of the firm which owns the Dodgers. Walter is the Dodgers’ named owner — the “control person” — as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.
The scandal does not directly relate to the baseball team. Rather, it involves allegations that Walter bought a $13 million Pacific Palisades home for a younger female executive named Alexandra Court:
In the past 24 hours, the company has pushed back on multiple reports that CEO Mark Walter will step down; its chief investment officer has claimed on CNBC that there’s “no tumult” at the company; and Guggenheim has denied reports on a real-estate blog and in the New York Post that Walter bought a California mansion for a younger female executive at the company.
The denial regarding who bought the mansion is a bit too cute, though, as the company only denies that Walter bought it or owns it. In fact, the mansion is owned by a holding company that also bought Walter’s personal residence in Malibu. Billionaires don’t go to closings at title company offices, of course. They buy houses through companies and LLCs and trusts and stuff. As such, the claim that Walter didn’t buy the house may be technically and legally true but entirely misleading all the same. For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walter and Court have a “personal relationship.” Walter, who is married, and the company deny this. Court is on an extended leave of absence.
Walter and Guggenheim are denying that Walter is going to step down as CEO. That remains to be seen. The question for our purposes is whether, if he steps down from Guggenheim Partners, he would necessarily have to step down from Guggenheim Baseball Management and thus relinquish control of the Dodgers. I suspect not — they’re distinct legal entities, and his departure from Partners would be unrelated to stuff having to do with the baseball team — but you never know. It’s not like he put up $2 billion of his personal dollars for the team. There are likely a lot of strings attached and contingencies involved to the arrangement.
Something to watch.