Lew Wolff speaks out…again
Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff once again brought up the team’s stadium issue, this time at a San Jose Rotary lunch a couple of weeks ago. Based on the rumors, the Athletics are supposed to get the nod to move to San Jose, but there has been no official announcement yet. Wolff was optimistic about moving to San Jose, and he did say that it looks like they’re coming to an end of the process.
Wolff also dismissed Oakland’s latest efforts to keep the team at the Coliseum, saying he spent too long trying to get something going there before the city really started to make an effort. He also brought up the fact that the move to Fremont never panned out and the team faces some substantial losses once it sells that land back.
Still, the A’s were the surprise high bidders for the Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes, and that has led some to believe that this is in light of the fact that the A’s expect a positive decision regarding the potential move to San Jose.
Madoff trustee paints picture that intertwines Mets with scandal
Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of sorting out the Bernie Madoff scandal, filed final legal papers in advance of the civil trial that has targeted New York Mets owners’ Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
In the report, Picard paints a picture in which Wilpon and Katz go to great lengths to, in effect, borrow money so they could invest it with Madoff and make money on the spread. Picard even talked about how Wilpon and Katz budgeted these returns from Madoff into their business plan and even structured contracts to draw out the payments so they could keep money with Madoff longer.
In an even more unusual move, the team didn’t pay disability insurance on key players. Instead, they put money into an account so they could make money off the float, and Picard finishes things up by saying that if not for this extra money the two owners received in returns from Madoff, they wouldn’t have been able to make payroll. Of course, Katz and Wilpon’s lawyers say that Picards claims are ridiculous and that he distorted evidence.
Eleven bidders remain as Dodgers auction goes to second round
Eleven groups have been cleared as the bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers moved into the second round. At this point, one of the wild cards is Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who supposedly is the richest man in Los Angeles. He looks like he could be joining either the Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten group or the Rick Caruso/Joe Torre group. There’s also a chance that as we get closer to a final decision, some of these groups begin to merge together.
As the bidders start to flesh out how much they’re willing to pay, it looks like stadium renovations are going to be a big issue. Whoever buys in will be locked in at Dodger Stadium until 2030, and if bidders know they’re going to have to put a lot of money into the ballpark to keep it going, it’s going to affect their bids.
Television rights are also an issue, but Fox put an end to current owner Frank McCourt’s going out and selling long-term rights. Also a big issue is whether McCourt keeps the parking lots that surround the stadium or not. For now, McCourt doesn’t plan to sell the lots, but that means the new owner will have to pay him $14 million a year to use them.
New slotting rules could mean more college-bound baseball players
With the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are now going to be limited in how much money they have to sign their draft picks. With potentially less money available, that means we could see more and more players going to back to school without the enticement of a big payoff to play pro baseball instead. In addition, you’ll probably see more later-round high school players go to college instead of heading right into pro baseball.
How much money each team gets to sign players will depend on how where they draft. If a team signs a player for more than its allotted slot, they have to either pay into a pool that will be spread out to the teams that stayed within slot or lose draft picks in future years, or both. With that, I have a feeling this year’s draft and the month after where teams have to sign their picks will be one of the more interesting ones yet.