Craig Calcaterra

Al Alburquerque

Al Alburquerque signs with the Angels

5 Comments

Jon Heyman reports that the Angels have agreed to terms with reliever Al Alburquerque on a major league contract, pending a physical.

Alburquerque was non-tended by the Tigers in December. He has been an effective reliever in the past and has a career 11.0 K/9 rate, although last season was a rough one for him. His K/9 fell to a career-low 8.4 and his ERA was 4.21. The Tigers likely would’ve kept him if he weren’t arbitration eligible as he’s still useful, they just didn’t think he was worth the likely $2 million+ he would’ve made in arbitration.

The change of scenery may do him well.

Jose Reyes to stand trial for domestic violence

Jose Reyes
39 Comments

The New York Daily News reports that Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes will stand trial on domestic abuse charges in Hawaii. Currently the trial date is set for April 4. As you likely know, Reyes was arrested on October 31 and charged with “abuse of a family and/or household member” after an altercation with his wife which sent her to the hospital with multiple injuries.

As the Daily News story notes, there is risk beyond mere criminal sanction for Reyes here. Depending on his citizenship status — which is not 100% clear — Reyes could potentially face deportation if he is convicted of a crime of violence. There are likely to be continuing plea negotiations here, however, and it’s possible that lesser charges or some resolution could be attempted by Reyes’ lawyers to protect against that possibility.

On the baseball side, this continues to be interesting. Reyes is already in the crosshairs of MLB’s new Domestic Violence policy and the league continues to investigate and/or wait it out to see what happens. As I noted last fall, Reyes’ case is more important than merely what happens to Reyes, as Rob Manfred will be setting new precedent with him. While the MLB policy is supposed to be carried out on a separate track from the criminal justice case, it seems logical that the more protracted and public Reyes’ legal case is, the more severe his punishment is likely to be from MLB. Maybe that’s not fair, but the fact is that if Reyes’ case was dispatched quietly, MLB would have greater political latitude to go softer on him.

So a trial is not great news for Reyes. Especially a trail that is scheduled to take place during the first week of the 2016 season. Time to call your lawyers and push them for a plea deal, Jose.

Major League Baseball opens a lobbying office in Washington

Capitol
2 Comments

Major League Baseball just announced that it has opened an office in Washington, D.C. It will basically be for lobbying, and will bring in-house some people that have done the lobbying for them from the outside all along.

The office will be led by Josh Alkin, who has been appointed Vice President, Government Relations. He will report to Dan Halem, MLB’s Chief Legal Officer. Alkin, however, is no newbie at this. At his law firm, Baker Hostetler, he has lobbied on behalf of the Commissioner’s Office for 15 years.  He will bring along an attorney named Lucy Calautti, also from of Baker Hostetler. Calautti has done this sort of work on behalf of MLB for equally as long. In addition, MLB has hired the Duberstein Group, which will provide counsel on government-related issues.

This is not some new area into which MLB is moving. Indeed, MLB and the other sports leagues have lobbied all along. MLB, in fact, used to lobby a heck of a lot more than it does now. According to OpenSecrets.org, MLB spent between $1.5-1.6 million on lobbying efforts in 1998-99. That figure has varied quite a bit from year-to-year, but has trended way down since 2007, to where, in 2015, they spent only $320,000. The decline is somewhat understandable given that baseball was often in siege mentality when labor issues were far more contentious and in the pre-drug testing days when league officials were routinely called before Congress. There has been peace and quiet in recent years, relatively speaking, reducing the need for a robust government relations effort.

It’s possible that the expansion and formalization of government relations work now means that MLB is concerned about new issues on the horizon. Cable TV? Labor relations and its treatment of minor leaguers? Something else? It’s also possible, however, that this is simply a function of a lawyer, Rob Manfred, taking over and reorganizing things in a manner which he feels is more efficient. Indeed, he wouldn’t be the first CEO to hire an outside lawyer away from his firm and bring him in-house to do the same job on a non-billable hour basis. It’s a pretty common thing, actually.

I’d normally say “we’ll see” at this point. But when it comes to the work of Washington lobbyists the fact is that we rarely ever see. That’s kind of the whole point.