Sunday Morning Rumors Comin' Down

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Fox’s Ken Rosenthal’s latest column has all kinds of tidbits to last you until kickoff this afternoon:

  • An unnamed exec can’t feature the Red Sox pulling off a trade for Adrian Gonzalez that makes it worth the Padres’ while.  I agree with Rosenthal: the Padres shouldn’t be in any hurry to trade Gonzalez. Given that he’s locked up at a bargain basement price through 2011, they should wait at least until someone is desperate for offense next June, at which point the offers will only be better.  Besides: why trade the only marquee player you have during season ticket renewal season?  My guess: Gonzalez is with the Padres on Opening Day.
  • Josh Beckett is probably going to demand A.J. Burnett money in any extension. The Sox are on the hook for $12 million for him next year. If you’re Theo Epstein I can’t see how you talk extension now. If he goes out in 2010 and pitches like the 2008 Beckett, you’ll be sorry you blew any more money on him than you had to and you’ll be happy to let him go.  If he’s a Cy Young contender again, well, you’re still better positioned to bid for his services after 2010 than anyone else. The Red Sox spend quite a bit, but they aren’t usually in the business of spending before they have to, and likely won’t with Beckett.
  • Jorge De La Rosa “wants to be paid like Oliver Perez.”  Query: if you’re De La Rosa’s agent, why on Earth would you bring up a horrendous bust like Perez as you’re beginning to position your client for a pay day? Why don’t you just say “I’d like you to throw money in the toilet at my client like the Mets did with Perez!”
  • Rosenthal thinks that the Twins’ moves thus far — trading for Hardy; exercising Michael Cuddyer’s option — are all a part of the plan to get Mauer locked up long-term. They were probably the right moves independent of that, but I tend to agree that the Twins are doing what they can to make sure Mauer can’t play the only non-monetary get-out-of-Minnesota card at his disposal, and that’s claiming that the Twins aren’t committed to winning.
  • As usual, tons of other stuff from Rosenthal, so click on over.

    Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

    Tom Ricketts
    Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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    MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

    Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

    Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

    Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

    MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

    It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

    At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?