Francisco Cordero

Longtime closer Francisco Cordero “more than happy” to be setup man for Blue Jays

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Francisco Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but then found himself in perhaps the biggest buyer’s market for veteran relievers in the history of free agency this offseason and ended up settling for a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Blue Jays.

Oh, and he’ll be a setup man in Toronto too. And the 37-year-old three-time All-Star with 327 career saves said yesterday that he’s just fine with the new role:

They explained to me what my role is going to be, I agreed to it, and I’ll be more than happy to do it. I will be the setup guy, I’ve been that before. I have to treat the eighth inning like the ninth and get us to Santos.

“Santos” is Sergio Santos, who was acquired from the White Sox and handed closing duties months before Cordero fell into the Blue Jays’ lap. Santos has fewer career saves than Cordero had in 2011 alone, but he’ll enter the season with ninth-inning duties. Of course, that doesn’t mean Cordero won’t be looming in the background to take over the gig should Santos falter.

As for the reliever logjam that led to Cordero settling for a modest one-year deal and no closing job, he explained:

I thought the market would be a little better. My agent spoke with a lot of teams, like Cincinnati and some others. I’ll pitch for one year and who knows? And who knows what will take place during the course of the season?

It’s also worth noting that several reports had Cordero turning down a two-year, $14 million offer to return to the Reds early on this offseason, in which case he had an opportunity to escape the buyer’s market with a nice multi-year commitment and overplayed his hand.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.

Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

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This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.

The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.

Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.

Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.