I’m sure you’re tired of me mentioning sickness in this space, but, damn it, it keeps happening. Yes, I’m sick again – strep throat – which marks the fourth time I’ve been sick this Winter (all unconnected). I never used to get sick. I don’t want to blame it on The Little Girl, or even The Wife (who is a teacher, and is thus immune to every sickness ever, but is a carrier for them all), but I used to go years – plural! – without getting sick. Onward with the Bullets …
- The Dodgers have inked their big-big-money TV deal: $7 billion over 25 years. That’s $280 million per season, or about five times the estimated fees the Cubs currently get. The deal sets up the Dodgers with their own TV network – SportsNet LA – which will be funded by Time Warner.
- There is a rub with the deal, though: revenue sharing. Large market teams have to share 34% of their TV revenue (essentially, it goes to smaller market teams), unless they create their own network and assume the risk of the network failing. In that case, MLB establishes a “fair market value” of the TV rights, and the team pays revenue share off of that amount. When the Dodgers were in bankruptcy a couple years ago, MLB set the Dodgers’ fair market TV rights value at just $84 million per year. So, since the Dodgers are now doing their own network, in theory, they’d only have to pay revenue sharing money on the first $84 million, and then keep the rest (indeed, you can bet that’s almost the entire reason they structured the deal this way). MLB will likely argue that, since the Dodgers’ deal is backstopped by Time Warner, they aren’t actually assuming any risk, and the entire deal should be subject to revenue sharing. The argument could wind up back in the bankruptcy court for a decision. But let’s not lose perspective: even if the full $280 million were subject to revenue sharing, the Dodgers will still be banking $185 million each year (and it’s not like the other large market teams aren’t subject to revenue sharing, too). For the purposes of the rest of the league, the new Dodgers are still going to be crazy nuts loaded.
- Are you ready to see Ronny Cedeno beat the Cubs down? The Cardinals just signed the former Cubs shortstop for $1.15 million and $850K in incentives, so it’s going to happen. He was actually decent last year – .259/.332/.410 – for the Mets, so if he is in that range again this year, I suppose it won’t be entirely voodoo magic.
- To the extent you remained unnerved by the possibility of Yuniesky Betancourt coming to the Cubs, you can unclench – he just signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.
- Also signing a minor league deal with the Phillies? Joe Mather, who won’t return to the Cubs. (I feel like we may have already discussed this, but just in case, I mentioned it again.)
- Jonathan Mayo’s MLB.com top prospect lists continue with the outfield, where Albert Almora shows up at number 9, behind some elite guys (Oscar Taveras, Wil Myers, and Billy Hamilton are the top three). Here’s what Mayo had to say about Almora: “While [Byron] Buxton might have had the most tools of any high school outfielder in the 2012 Draft, Almora wasn’t far behind. Taken No. 6 overall, the Florida high school standout is a veteran of USA Baseball and the international stage several times over. He has the offensive skills to be an above-average hitter, and he can drive the ball to all fields. He’s shown glimpses of power, but he should grow into that as me matures. His instincts and work ethic are off the charts, which should allow all of his tools to play up as he progresses.” I look forward to seeing Almora in full-season ball this year, and seeing him adjust his game at the plate as the pitchers adjust to him (i.e., when he can’t simply hit everything that’s thrown his way, even if he is able to hit everything that’s thrown his way – because he’s got to focus on selecting pitches he can drive while gaining comfort hitting with two strikes (the same adjustment Javier Baez has to make)).
- Jorge Soler didn’t show up on Mayo’s list, but he wrote separately that Soler would have been number 11.
- A profile on Cubs outfield prospect Matt Szczur from CSN, in which, among other things, he notes that Reed Johnson was something of a mentor for him last Spring. I find that interesting, given that many see Szczur as a future fourth outfielder, not wholly dissimilar from Johnson. Entering his second season on the 40-man roster, Szczur is facing something of a make-or-break year with the Cubs, who will want to know by the second half whether they’ve got a guy who can contribute in the big league level in 2014 at the latest.
- A report in the Miami New Times (must be really new) claims connections between a clinic in Miami and known-juicers Alex Rodriguez, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera, and Yasmani Grandal – there are notebooks that suggest the clinic helped supply the players with banned substances. The report also claims connections between the clinic and Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez, so you’re probably going to hear about this a bit in the coming days.
- The Venezuelan Winter League is wrapping up with its championship series, and Luis Valbuena continues to rake, as he has all Winter.
- The Vine Line Blog put together a video package on the recent Cubs Caravan, in case you were wondering what that looked like: