Deep Thought: remember when Frank McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox?

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Frank McCourt’s turmoil has contributed to a state of affairs in which a team that should have a tremendous financial advantage over all of its competitors has basically punted that advantage. Given their attendance, market size and revenue — as cash cow regional sports network would make perfect sense for them — the Dodgers truly could be the Yankees or the Red Sox of the West if run properly. Now? Receivership.

And I’m reminded that McCourt could have been the actual owner of the Red Sox. He grew up a Red Sox fan. The basis of his recent fortune was South Boston waterfront property that once was thought to be the perfect home for a New Fenway Park. He was in the bidding to buy the Red Sox when they were sold to John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. We’ve seen how fragile baseball ownership groups and their bids can be. It wouldn’t have taken much to throw that out of whack and have given the Red Sox to McCourt.

What happens if Frank McCourt takes over the Red Sox in 2002? Here’s a few ideas that spring to mind:

  • Given how quickly he dispatched Paul DePodesta in L.A., I’d guess he doesn’t hire a young, stat-savvy GM like Theo Epstein in Boston (and certainly not Epstein himself given that the basis for his hiring was his experience with Larry Luchino in San Diego).
  • Given McCourt’s demonstrated penchant for choosing leverage in the interests of short term cash flow as opposed to investment for longterm stability, you figure that he doesn’t create a beast like Fenway Sports Group to expand and enrich the team’s power and holdings.
  • Given his ownership of that waterfront property, he doesn’t invest in the renovation of Fenway Park, instead choosing to build a new ballpark. A new ballpark that could very well have taken years to build if it ever did get built, and in the meantime would mean that Fenway would fall into disrepair or something close to it. Best case scenario, the Red Sox are playing in a new retropark now and Fenway is rubble.

Maybe McCourt’s vision, such as it was, would have worked better in Boston than it did in L.A. Maybe the Red Sox would have still won two World Series on his watch and served as profound competitive threat to the Yankees, thereby causing them to increase their payroll as they did.  Maybe, with McCourt driving the bus in Boston, Red Sox Nation explodes in the way it did over the past decade and still helps create the Yankees-Red Sox hegemony with which we are familiar.

I just kinda doubt it.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.