This morning we saw the shocking — shocking! — news that a player approaching free agency wants $X, and his team wants to pay him something less than $X. That’s Jose Reyes and the Mets, in case you didn’t know.
Perhaps because he’s felt this all along and perhaps he realized that stories like this morning’s story will persist for the next several months if he doesn’t do anything to stop it, Reyes said today that he does not want to negotiate with the Mets about a contract extension during the season. This is the smart play for Reyes because any contract chatter does little to actually help Reyes while he’s with the Mets.
Given the year he’s having, he’d be better off hitting the market and letting the bidding go high. And even if he’s inclined to stay with the Mets, in-season negotiations would just lead to someone friendly to the team whispering to the press that Reyes is being greedy or unrealistic or something in the event that no easy agreement was reached. And given the Mets’ financial straits and Fred Wilpon’s comments in that New Yorker article there won’t be.
So a smart play by Reyes: let the possibilities of him being traded or not be the Mets problem, and let the market for his services after 2011 take care of itself when that market becomes mature next fall. Everything else would just lead to bigger headaches.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”