The “move the A’s to Portland” drum continues to beat

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Almost all the beating is coming from Lynn Lashbrook, president of Sports Management Worldwide and the primary backer for the aborted effort to move the Expos to Portland in 2003. But it is beating. Here’s a story about Lashbrook’s efforts and estimates regarding the cost and logistics of a ballpark. Here’s an interesting sidebar about how the A’s (or whoever) could theoretically play in the Hillsboro Hops’ minor league park temporarily while a stadium is built.

That’s all good — Lashbrook is doing a lot to answer the inevitable “how it might work” questions — but the biggest issue is still unaddressed: who pays for a ballpark and who owns the team.

The team ownership issue is key, because it’s highly unlikely that either the current owners of the A’s or Rays would commit to any sort of massive self-financed stadium project in a new city. And that’s before you take into account the fact that neither have expressed a desire to sell. But, say they do: someone has to buy the A’s or the Rays for some amount north of $500 million and south of a billion, and that same someone would have to pony up hundreds of millions for a stadium. All with no promise of the kind of TV money the Dodgers received after their $2 billion sale. Because Portland may want baseball, but they only have so many people to broadcast it to.

So it would take a sports-crazed billionaire, really. And yes, Portland has one. Maybe two. But neither have expressed much interest in getting into the baseball business. Maybe that changes — now would not be the best time for them to go public with their great interest in doing so — but until it does, baseball in Portland seems more like a pipe dream than a reality.

Giants making Brandon Belt available

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Giants have made first baseman Brandon Belt available in a trade and says that several teams have expressed interest in him.

Which is kind of weird, really.

Belt turns 31 early next season. He hit .253/.342/.414 with 14 homers over 112 games last year due to a knee injury and time lost to an appendectomy. He has a history of concussions and has averaged only 115 games over the last five seasons. Oh, and makes $48 million over the next three years.

Yes, he could be a very useful player if healthy, but taking on that kind of money, even a part of that money, when many very affordable first base/DH options are out there on the market makes little sense to me. Matt Adams. Justin Bour. Lucas Duda. As good as Belt? No, I don’t think so. But way cheaper and requiring less of a commitment.

But hey, rumors are rumors. Let a thousand flowers bloom.