Yesterday was the much-anticipated hearing in the Dodgers bankruptcy case, the purpose of which was to determine who gets to fund the Dodgers until they emerge from Chapter 11.
I followed the blow-by-blow via the Twitter feeds of reporters in the courtroom. Even then — with the ability to watch baseball games, write about other subjects, play with my kids and do any number of other things — I was bored to tears. I can’t imagine what the Bill Shaikins of the world must have felt trapped in that place for the entire ten hour hearing.
For as long as the thing lasted, there was only one witness: Dodgers assistant treasurer Jeffery Ingram. Following vicariously, it seemed like he didn’t do the best job in the world for Frank McCourt. He voiced the McCourt position well enough: the Dodgers don’t want MLB financing because Bud Selig is out to get Frank McCourt and you don’t want to take loans from your enemies. But on cross examination he basically admitted that, yeah, MLB’s financing was better on their basic terms.
And that may be good enough for the judge who, at the close of the day, said that he was going to decide the matter based on the financial terms: “”This is about dollars and cents. This is not a control issue,” he said. Based on that alone, observers got the feeling that, when he rules today, as is expected, he’ll side with MLB’s financing, not McCourt’s.
The implications: well, the judge’s words about this not being about control notwithstanding — and notwithstanding the arguments of MLB’s lawyers, who said that Selig does not intend to use financing as a means of squeezing out McCourt — it’s hard to see how such an outcome wouldn’t put MLB in a very strong position vis-a-vis our favorite spendthrift owner, marginalizing him practically, even if he’s not technically moved aside.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.