Deep Thought: remember when Frank McCourt tried to buy the Red Sox?

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Frank McCourt’s turmoil has contributed to a state of affairs in which a team that should have a tremendous financial advantage over all of its competitors has basically punted that advantage. Given their attendance, market size and revenue — as cash cow regional sports network would make perfect sense for them — the Dodgers truly could be the Yankees or the Red Sox of the West if run properly. Now? Receivership.

And I’m reminded that McCourt could have been the actual owner of the Red Sox. He grew up a Red Sox fan. The basis of his recent fortune was South Boston waterfront property that once was thought to be the perfect home for a New Fenway Park. He was in the bidding to buy the Red Sox when they were sold to John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. We’ve seen how fragile baseball ownership groups and their bids can be. It wouldn’t have taken much to throw that out of whack and have given the Red Sox to McCourt.

What happens if Frank McCourt takes over the Red Sox in 2002? Here’s a few ideas that spring to mind:

  • Given how quickly he dispatched Paul DePodesta in L.A., I’d guess he doesn’t hire a young, stat-savvy GM like Theo Epstein in Boston (and certainly not Epstein himself given that the basis for his hiring was his experience with Larry Luchino in San Diego).
  • Given McCourt’s demonstrated penchant for choosing leverage in the interests of short term cash flow as opposed to investment for longterm stability, you figure that he doesn’t create a beast like Fenway Sports Group to expand and enrich the team’s power and holdings.
  • Given his ownership of that waterfront property, he doesn’t invest in the renovation of Fenway Park, instead choosing to build a new ballpark. A new ballpark that could very well have taken years to build if it ever did get built, and in the meantime would mean that Fenway would fall into disrepair or something close to it. Best case scenario, the Red Sox are playing in a new retropark now and Fenway is rubble.

Maybe McCourt’s vision, such as it was, would have worked better in Boston than it did in L.A. Maybe the Red Sox would have still won two World Series on his watch and served as profound competitive threat to the Yankees, thereby causing them to increase their payroll as they did.  Maybe, with McCourt driving the bus in Boston, Red Sox Nation explodes in the way it did over the past decade and still helps create the Yankees-Red Sox hegemony with which we are familiar.

I just kinda doubt it.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.