The dirt on Jim Crane

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Over at Forbes, our friend Maury Brown lays out the Jim Crane dossier, as he Mr. Crane prepares to take over the Astros.

It’s a good read, containing many of the things we’ve talked about before. For example, the old deal with Drayton McLane that fell through. His dalliance with the Rangers last year. The matter of the multiple discrimination complaints against his company.

Add two new ones to the list that I hadn’t heard of: claims that Crane had breached fiduciary duties in his business dealings in the past and the fact that his company was accused of war profiteering in Iraq. The former of which is a bit troubling, the latter of which is fun in a George Bluth-from-Arrested Development sort of way (and troubling too, but I wanted to get the Bluth reference in there).

Ultimately I’m sure none of these things will stand in the way of Crane being approved by Major League Baseball, because I’m sure they are things that were known by baseball before the transaction ever got this far (or before the last two aborted ones for the Astros and Rangers did). And I’m guessing at least a couple of those things (discrimination claims and fiduciary duty breaches) are things many of the current MLB ownership club have on their rap sheet, because that’s just how big money business, unfortunately, rolls in this great land of ours.

But it’s good to know team owners. Would that we knew Frank McCourt this well before he entered our lives.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?