Every fall I wonder what the dominant hot stove story is going to be. The one where, every time we do a post about it, someone says “I am SO SICK of this!”
Usually it’s a big free agent like Cliff Lee or Albert Pujols. Sometimes it’s the story of a little free agent — a guy past his prime — seemingly unable to ever find a team (Johnny Damon has played that part for several years now). This year it’s most definitely gonna be the A-Rod trade saga.
Why wait for the season to end to get that train a-rolling? Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Alex Rodriguez is telling “close friends” that he wouldn’t block a trade — as is his right — as long as it’s to certain big market teams:
He will welcome a trade, the person says, but it must to be to another big-market club. Hint: He won’t be going to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The most likely choices would be the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We’ve talked about the Marlins — I could see them doing something like that and A-Rod lives in Miami. Not sure why the Angels would want him or what they’d give the Yankees back. Same with Chicago. The Dodgers have already gone on a pretty big spending spree and it seems kinda nuts that they’d consider it.
I guess less important than handicapping possible destinations, however, is figuring how much of the $114 million remaining on his contract the Yankees would be willing to eat. Probably a ton. If so, and if Rodriguez’s effective salary to a suitor is sufficiently low, any number of people would be willing to take a chance on him, I reckon. Because even if he isn’t what he once was, he still is an above average hitter who could conceivably rebound to for a year or two into some approximation of what he once was. Especially if you think that his current woes are health-related.
It would not be at all shocking for this stuff to heat up soon, so prepare yourself for A-Rod-a-palooza, people. It’s gonna pretty much dominate the offseason.
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.