The Twins lost 99 games last year. This year, they’re on pace to lose 96. Their minor league system boasts one potential star in Miguel Sano but is otherwise probably among the weakest in the game. Maybe cashing in the 33-year-old outfielder with a history of back problems wouldn’t be such a bad idea?
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Twins aren’t listening on Josh Willingham, though. They will consider moving Denard Span, who is five years younger but who could be replaced in center field by Ben Revere.
Given their place in the standings, the Twins really should be open to moving anyone. No one is going to make a big offer for Joe Mauer’s huge contract, so he stays. However, everyone else — Justin Morneau included — should be able to be had.
Willingham has been outstanding with his .272/.384/.535 line and 49 RBI this year, and given that he’s just in the first year of a three-year, $21 million contract, it’s understandable that the Twins wouldn’t want to part with him. Still, his value probably won’t ever be higher, and it’s doubtful the Twins are going to win with him next year. By the time 2014 rolls around, Willingham will be 35 and probably won’t be the same player. If they can get two quality prospects for him now, they should pull the trigger.
Span is hitting .277/.341/.396 this season, which should give his trade value a modest boost. The Nationals have often been mentioned in connection with him, and a deal involving him and closer Drew Storen was discussed last year. The Twins still might be interested in such a trade once Storen returns from minor elbow surgery next month. The Marlins are another team that could pursue Span.
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.
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.