Wed Dec 18 11:27pm EST
Those anxious for the next big name free agent signing or blockbuster trade may be left waiting through the holidays, but that doesn’t mean general managers around the league haven’t remained active since the end of the winter meetings. Said activity resulted in a flurry of moves on Wednesday, mostly involving second and third tier free agents. There were also a handful of under-the-radar trades. Here’s a quick recap, beginning with the headline move of the day.
Joaquin Benoit agrees to two-year, $15.5 million deal with the San Diego Padres
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the deal early Wednesday, noting that its completion was still contingent on a physical.
BLS take: Assuming all goes as planned, San Diego will have a pair of relievers on staff with closing experience in Benoit and Huston Street, who is due $7 million next season. It’s assumed Street will retain his role with Benoit sliding in as the setup man, but there’s still a lot of offseason left and they may end up dangling Street in a follow up deal. If not, that would be a lot of money for a low payroll team to have tied up in two relievers.
Wed Dec 18 09:35pm EST
Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff recently scoffed at the proposed $500 million waterfront ballpark that would be located at the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal. That came as no surprise to developers behind the project, since it‘s obvious Wolff has no interest in spending his own money to upgrade his team’s stadium. That’s also part of the reason why he continues to seek options outside of Oakland, because he knows the city doesn’t have the funds available to pick up all or a significant portion of the tab.
Still, despite the expected response from Wolff and a potential long, uphill battle to get what they want, the developers behind the waterfront ballpark are still moving forward with their plans and are currently seeking out potential investors that will get behind their proposal.
According to an East Bay Express report on Wednesday, there are three known groups who have expressed interest in buying the A's and building a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. The most intriguing of which includes Golden State Warriros owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.
Yet despite being spurned by Wolff, the Rogers-Ghielmetti-Knauss-Boxer team is not willing to give up on the waterfront plan. In fact, sources tell us the group knew full well that Wolff might reject their proposal. As such, they made contingency plans and have been shopping around the Howard Terminal proposal for potential investors, identifying at least three groups who are interested in buying the A’s and building the Howard Terminal ballpark themselves, sources say. And one of these groups, sources say, is led by Warriors’ owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber — two wealthy men who had tried to buy the A’s previously.
Gruber and Lacob were reportedly a part of separate groups interested in buying the team back in 2002, so their desire to own the A’s isn't a new development. Of course, the problem for them and the others looking to get behind the proposal is the team isn't even for sale at this time. There’s no word that Wolff is looking to sell the team any time soon, either, but it sounds like pressure to do so is mounting.
In an interview, Mayor Jean Quan declined to comment on Lacob and Guber’s interest in the A’s. But following a fundraiser for the Save Oakland Sports group last Friday, she reiterated that a decision needs to be made by A’s current owners soon. “The Giants are not going to let them go to San Jose,” said Quan. “Major League Baseball is going to have to make a decision. They have to basically say, ‘Hey A’s, you need some place to play. You’re not moving out of Oakland and you’ve got these people with real money willing to build a stadium, you need to be a part of that.’ Lew Wolff has said there is nothing in Oakland. Well, now, not only have we proved not only site control, we have the money to do it.”
There's no reason to believe Wolff will budge, but he can no longer say an option in Oakland doesn't exist. That changes the game to some degree, but it's becoming increasingly clear the A's best chance for a new, up-to-standard ballpark will come with new ownership that's willing to put money back in the team.
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Wed Dec 18 08:09pm EST
On Monday we learned that ownership of the Rakuten Golden Eagles had given consent to coveted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to pursue a career in the United States. That seemingly put an end to the mystery of whether or not the team would post Tanaka this winter, therefore making him available for all 30 MLB teams to bid on.
Not so fast, says Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Apparently Rakuten isn't ready to give up the fight just yet, and are planning on offering Tanaka a large chunk of change in hopes of keeping him around for at least one more season.
Looks like Rakuten is not giving up on Tanaka. Hochi says they are going to offer him an $8m salary. http://t.co/PJRk1Cqa0U
— Patrick Newman (@npbtracker) December 19, 2013
Wed Dec 18 04:24pm EST
There were two winners in Tuesday's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, which means two people are feeling about as good as Robinson Cano right now. It was the second-largest lottery in U.S. history, with the two jackpot winners receiving either $318 million in annual payments or $170 million in immediate cash.
You didn't win. You wouldn't be reading a baseball blog right now, if you had. I didn't win either. I'd be writing something else entirely if that were the case. But let's consider how baseball fans could have won. Unless you let the computer pick for you, most people have a system to picking what numbers to bubble in on their tickets — family birthdays, anniversaries, etc. And some people turn to sports, using jersey numbers from their favorite athletes.
If someone had used baseball players to pick Tuesday's winning numbers — 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and 7 (mega ball) — which players might they have been picking? Some all-time greats, plus one hilarious choice. Let's examine.
Wed Dec 18 02:10pm EST
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The Stew may have been, before this post, the only place on the entire Internet that hadn't engaged in some sort of not-so-thinly-veiled promotion of "Anchorman 2" — the movie which may be coming this week, or may have come out two months ago, considering how feverishly it's been pushed at the public.
We're sorry to say, faithful reader, that we too have been consumed by "Anchorman 2." It's like being a character on "The Walking Dead" — it's only a matter of time before Ron Burgundy eats your brain. Wait, that simile went sideways, sorry. But you get the drift.
Anyhow, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria partnered up with MLB Fan Cave to ask the "Anchorman 2" cast — Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell and the rest — a few baseball-related questions in the video above. It's better than having a Ron Burgundy try to sell you a truck, how's that for a ringing endorsement?
Wed Dec 18 01:17pm EST
The Atlanta Braves and Cobb County, Ga., didn't think they could just agree to build a new publicly subsidized stadium with $300 million of taxpayer money and not rile up the local tea party chapter did they? If they did, they were foolish.
The Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, according to Bloomberg, are planning to file a lawsuit this week that aims to block construction of the new suburban stadium the Braves announced in November and plan to play in come 2017.
The Cobb County Commission previously voted 4-1 to approve funding for the stadium. The stadium would be financed for 30 years through revenue bonds and would be paid back through a number of taxes to things like hotels and rental cars, plus a redistribution of existing property taxes. Local taxpayers had no say because no new taxes were created.
The local tea party chapter, of course, is fuming. They like the deal as much as they like President Obama and Keith Olbermann burning money together at a "Happy Holidays" party.
Wed Dec 18 10:40am EST
Outside Pitch did a terrific Q&A with Negro League Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick. (Kendrick is pictured above with Thomas Tull (a producer of "42'), along with actors Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson.) If you're not current on the details of the Negro Leagues — how they were formed and what happened there — this interview is a great place to start. And if you're ever in Kansas City, visiting the museum is a must. If you desire a more informed knowledge of baseball history, start reading about it.
Here are 10 things from Outside Pitch's interview about the Negro Leagues you might not have known:
1. The Negro Leagues were, literally, more than one league.
Wed Dec 18 09:32am EST
Sorry, ladies (and gentlemen). C.J. Wilson is officially, legally and nuptially taken. He and Brazilian supermodel Lisalla Montenegro got married over the weekend in Laguna Beach, Calif. The Stew announced their engagement back in May. We're still not sure which, bride or groom, is better looking. But thanks to the Vine above by race car driver Tyler McQuarrie (a buddy of Wilson's), we can see them acting like any other less good-looking married couple as they danced during their reception.
Major league pitchers, Brazilian supermodels, professional race car drivers. Who can't relate?
Also, there are pictures:
Tue Dec 17 08:35pm EST
The Walk-Off is your end-of-the-day collection of news and gossip from the world of baseball, plus the best of the blogosphere and other assorted goodness.
MONEY: Major League Baseball enjoyed record revenues in 2013, topping $8 billion for the first time. That's enough money for at least eight beers at an MLB game. [Forbes]
MO' MONEY: The Yankees got their luxury tax bill for 2013 — $28 million. Or, in other words, what they also paid Alex Rodriguez. That's a lot of wasted money. [Yahoo Sports]
GOOD READ: Baseball is praised for its proactive approach to protect players from concussions, writes Jeff Passan. [Yahoo Sports]
SIGNED: Jose Veras inks one-year deal with the Cubs to be their closer. [Chicago Tribune]
COMING TO AMERICA: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who could be the next Cuban star to make an impact on an MLB team. [Baseball America]
Tue Dec 17 04:04pm EST
Hat tip to Patrick Newman of NBP Tracker for keeping watch on the Masahiro Tanaka front. There's no resolution to his posting status yet, despite what media outlet Sanspo reported in Japan on Monday. He wants to pitch here, but Rakuten, his team in Japan, is hesitant to let him go because of the $20 million cap in fees it would receive if a Major League Baseball team signs him. It has not granted him permission as we said Sanspo said. So, while we wait to see if Tanaka coming to North America this offseason, we can entertain ourselves with seemingly random TV appearances Tanaka has made at home.
He appears to have a fun personality, particularly in the video above from the TV variety show "SMAPxSMAP," in which he competes against chefs in a strike-throwing contest. No #spoilers, but let's just say the contest, surprisingly, goes down to the last toss probably because Tanaka was putting a lot of pressure on himself to beat a collection of chefs.
In an earlier segment, it appears Tanaka and the bow-tied host are referencing Yu Darvish. To what end, only someone fluent in Japanese knows. Tanaka seems to be having a fun time, overall, mostly because the chefs appear to be funny. You'll just have to take their word!
Earlier in the show, the chefs competed against each other by making a meal for Tanaka, who acts as a one-man Iron Chef panel and declares which dish is tastiest. It looks like they made him scrambled eggs with beets. Is that a delicacy in Japan? Here's part one of his appearance. And here's part two. You'd think they'd want to start with the throwing contest and end with eating but whatever.
And then there's this song-and-dance number with the Real McCoy of Japan: