71014_moneyhappiness_vl-verticalI’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:

  • fromthemitten

    That clinic is HUGE news especially concerning A-Rod. I wonder if the Yankees will try to void his contract?

    Any word of Cubs players being linked?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      None in the article.

  • Sprtswiz1

    any idea what the Cubs are going to be looking at getting when their TV contract comes up in 2 years?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Only speculation at this point – so many possibilities. I’ll have a long article on the TV situation coming soon.

      • ETS
        • sprtswiz1

          glad to see that starting in 2014 you will be able to see any FOX saturday game even if it is not the game in your market area. nothing pissed me off more than to not be able to watch the Cubs game on saturday even though i had the MLB package because FOX showed one of their other games in my market.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah, it’s a huge issue. I’ve mentioned it here before, and I’ll be covering it a great deal more as the court case proceeds. Currently, there doesn’t seem to be a belief that it will blow up the regional TV deals, but we’ll see.

          • TheRiot2

            It has been speculated in the past about the Cubs forming their own broadcast network.I haven’t seen any mention lately and have been wondering if it still could be in the works? I would much rather pay a premium for Cubs baseball on TV without paying to see other teams,gee I must not be a baseball fan,but more of a Bud man Cub Fan. :)

        • hansman1982

          An interesting line in this:

          ” If the RSNs are smart, they’ve anticipated the possibility that MLB’s blackout policy will be found illegal by a court, and included language in the contracts giving them an out under such circumstances. And you can be sure teams will fight hard to keep their lucrative deals, particularly since they’ve signed expensive long-term player contracts.”

          It could be that the Dodgers deal gets voided after the lawsuit. Question is, in a deal like the Dodgers and Yankees where they have their own networks, are they subject to blackouts on Cable?

  • baseballet

    Last year Cedeno’s OPS (.742) was almost equal to Castro’s (.753). And Cedeno’s wOBA was incrementally higher than Castro’s. Although Cedeno only played in 78 games. It surprised me how close they were on offense.

    • fromthemitten

      If I recall right, Castro had like 400 more ABs than Cedeno. Small sample sizes yield crazy numbers sometimes

      • ETS

        Darwin Barney had a higher OPS than castro early in the season, if I recall correctly.

        • hansman1982

          Darwin Barney has been an April/May BEAST (at least as “Beasty” as he can be)thus far.

          April OPS – .738
          May OPS – .737
          Career OPS – .654

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Castro had a couple of months with very low BABiP, which dragged down the BA component of both OBP & SLG. Barney had his BABiP-going-my-way month early, which boosted both of his numbers. What is notable is that neither ever deviated from constant rates in their “core” numbers (K’s, BB’s, XBH) over the season.

  • JR

    It’s too bad that baseball and the players association can’t agree to void contracts if a player tests positive for a PED. If baseball really wants to knock out PED’s they need to penalize these players bank accounts. ARod is such a fraud. I know if I test positive at work for an illegal drug I would be fired.

    • hansman1982

      That would be an interesting punishment for PED usage:

      Contract, option years and service time nulified. Player is only allowed to sign a minor league contract the following offseason. Effectivelly, Melky Cabrera would be entering his first year of pro ball this season.

      • Noah

        Interesting idea, but the MLBPA would never agree to it.

        • hansman1982

          Not a chance in hell. That would only come around as a result of Congress threatening their anti-trust stance, harsh penalties, etc… from the steroids thing.

          The sad part, I think that only a handful of guys would stop using just from that.

    • ssckelley

      MLB is partially at fault for allowing this to happen, I say stick the Yankees with Arod’s salary.

    • Ptbnl

      I’ve always thought that teams should not be able to replace the suspended player on the roster. Make it no different than being suspended for any other reason.

  • Fishin Phil

    Joe Mather not returning??

    Cue puppet dancing with joy!

  • CubFan Paul

    Those roiding athletes will be fine. Stolen patient files by a disgruntled employee will never hold up in court.

  • JOHN

    Brett, You are injury prone. On a side note, do you really think that Almora is or will be better than Soler?

    • ETS

      not brett, but isn’t the general consensus that Almora = higher floor, Solar = higher ceiling. They are still very young prospects, however.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        That would be my take.

    • hansman1982

      If only we would have traded him to Viva El Birdos at the deadline.

  • Brian

    The ramifications could be huge. Suspensions could be numerous if this is proven to be true. Baseball in my opinion needs to start over from ground up in leadership in order to put and end to the Steroid talks and era.

    • hansman1982

      Meh, the Miami finding doesn’t really move the needle much. None of the guys linked were assumed clean, we just now know where they got the drugs from.

      • North Side Irish

        A-Rod, Melky, Grandal, and Colon sure…but I don’t remember Gio or Cruz being connected before. A Cruz suspension could put more pressure on the Rangers to make a move. If Gio isn’t the same pitcher without his juice, it could make the Nationals a bigger player in the SP market. If the Yankees can get out from under Rodriguez’s contract, that would have a huge impact on their payroll going forward and their presence in free agency. That’s three big market teams that could have their plans change in the next year or two.

        A lot of the names were not surprising, but it definitely seems like there could be some impact if MLB is able to prove anything.

        • hansman1982

          I guess Gio did surprise me.

    • Edwin

      What does “starting over from the ground up in leadership” mean? Are you saying baseball needs to do more to condemn steroid use?

      • Brian

        I mean get new power at the top, get rid of BUD. He is and always will be linked to the steroid era. He turned his head to it when it was clear that something was going on and now still has not closed the door. It’s time for him to step down and turn over the power.

        • Edwin

          Thanks for clarifying.

  • MightyBear

    On the Brett sick part of the piece, once you’re around little kids, you get sick. I was never sick and when my kids were young, I was sick all the time. Then they got into school and we were all good and now I never get sick again. My older brothers and sisters have grand kids that are little and all of them were sick this winter and it was being around those young kids. They are like incubators for sickness. After your baby is born, about 6-7 years, you will be right as rain and never get sick again. Until then, good luck.

  • North Side Irish

    Cardinals fans aren’t real excited about the Cedeno signing…do they not realize that he will somehow miraculously hit .300 with 15 HRs and win a Gold Glove?


  • cubfanincardinalland

    Cardinal pickups, Randy Choate Ty Wigginton, Ronnie Cedeno. With Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn in the starting rotation. And the Cubs are supposed to fear this club? Cardinals are a .500 team waiting to happen. Vegas kind of agrees if you look at the current World Series odds.

  • North Side Irish

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS
    Scott Hairston deal with #cubs is for $5M over 2 yrs. incentives, if hit, can add $1M extra.

    Not sure why he just Tweeted this. Does this mean the deal is now official? Does that mean a roster move is coming?

  • North Side Irish

    Gio Gonzalez ‏@GioGonzalez47
    I’ve never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will ,I’ve never met or spoken with tony Bosch or used any substance

  • North Side Irish

    Ben Badler ‏@BenBadler
    The first Google search result for “Cacique,” the alleged Bosch nickname for A-Rod, is for a line of Lane Bryant plus-size lingerie.

    I love this.

    • DarthHater

      I’d say the “plus-size” is per se evidence of PED use. 😉

  • DReese

    Hey Brett, I am really confused about these new TV deals. When you say the Dodgers are going to have their own network, do you mean it will be like ESPN but they only talk Dodgers all the time? That sounds like a waste and boring. Can you please clarify?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, in essence, that’s what it means.

      • DReese

        I love the ESPN but after awhile its gets boring and they talk about EVERY sport. Do other teams have this already? Do you know what their networks are like?

      • pete

        And the Dodgers are going to need all that money. They have an already existing $100 million plus salary baseline in place through 2018. And in 2018, that is only for 4 players (plus Ryu and Puig).

  • http://www.Chicagocubstalk.blogspot.com ChicagoCubsTalk

    I don’t understand where the Dodgers are getting all of this money!

  • koboldekobold

    Maybe it is just me, but I can’t muster up outrage over ped stories (even without considering the extent to which MLB turned a blind eye to the “problem” when there were bombs hit and money was coming in). I get that they are trying to cheat, and that is bad, but historically baseball is filled with people who try to get an edge in whatever way they can. The culture is such that it can’t be shocking that there are some who took things this far. I have an issue with the fact that the MLB seems to want to wash their hands of the entire era without acknowledging the extent to which they perpetuated the situation, letting people pile on Bonds, Clemens and perhaps even people who might not deserve it like Bagwell (for instance).

  • North Side Irish

    In Bruce Levine’s chat today he was asked about the Cubs TV deal and he mentioned that the Cubs and CSN have an agreement to not air Cubs games on any other cable outlet. I hadn’t heard that part before. That would mean that if the Cubs opt out of the WGN deal, they would only be able to shop those games to CSN or another non-cable network.

    Has anyone else heard this before? That clause was new to me.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Eh. The Ricketts Family has a 25% stake in CSN, so I’m not terribly concerned about restrictive clauses – there will be ways around them. While it would normally be hard to believe the Cubs would agree to such a clause (knowing that half of their games would be up for bidding before the deal with CSN ran out), the Trib was handing out sweetheart deals back then.

      So, no, I hadn’t heard that before. It makes me a little nervous, but not terribly so.

      • CubFan Paul

        Isn’t another possibility: Ricketts buys another 26% of CSN for a majority stake? Then he could rename to whatever…

        • North Side Irish

          Hard to see it. I believe the Ricketts family only owns 20% and the rest is split between NBC and the other Chicago teams. Reinsdorf actually owns 40% since he has shares for the White Sox and Bulls and there’s no chance he sells to Ricketts. Rocky Wirtz owns 20% for the Blackhawks and I doubt he does anything to upset Reinsdorf. The 20% owned by NBS wouldn’t get Ricketts enough to take control.

          • CubFan Paul

            Ricketts owns/bought 25% of CSN…

  • North Side Irish

    BA published a subscribers only article today about how well teams are doing with their international signings. Basically, they counted all the international signings from their latest prospect handbook and totaled up which franchises had signed the most players. The Cubs are tied for fifth with 11 signings, four behind the Rangers who were #1.

    The lists were based on what team signed the player, so Christian Villanueva counted for the Rangers and Hak-Ju Lee counted for the Cubs, even though both are now on different teams. And it only counted prospects, so Castro isn’t included even though he was an international signing.

    “Cubs: The Cubs paid a lot of money for a lot of fringy Cuban prospects in recent years, but they got a good one in Jorge Soler. They are one of the most active teams in the Far East, which helped them sign Japanese righthander Kyuji Fujikawa after the 2012 season and Korean shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (now with the Rays) out of high school in 2008. In Latin America, Castro has been the team’s crown jewel, while players like third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Gioskar Amaya are quality bats with breakout potential.”

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