MLB News: More Problems for Dodgers, Astros & Mets Get Buyers

| by Hardball Times

Athletics stadium update

I found this on Field of Schemes, but there’s a great write up on the current state of the Athletic’s stadium situation and what the San Francisco Giants' options are with regard to the matter at

The A’s want to move to San Jose, but that’s in Giants territory, so it’s an even stickier matter then when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C.—where there had to be a buyout to get the Baltimore Orioles on board—because that was just a media territory issue.

It looks like the three primary options are for the Athletics to move out of the Bay Area, stay in Oakland, or have the Giants let them move to San Jose. Giants’ ownership has been against that last option, but the piece presents some solid reasons why a move wouldn’t be bad for the Giants and how they could even capitalize on it.

Astros find a buyer

The Houston Astros haven’t been sold yet, but the process is nearly complete. Jim Crane led a larger group of investors, and they’ll buy the team for $680 million. Crane is the founder of the Houston-based company Crane Worldwide Logistics, which provides freight transportation and related logistical services. Now the league has to approve the sale, and all of the particulars have to be sorted out. Crane was one of the parties trying to buy the Texas Rangers, but he missed the cut there.

This ends Drayton McLane’s run as owner of the team. He bought the Astros back in 1992 for $117 million. During his tenure, the Astros went to the World Series once, and the team even changed venues from the Astrodome to Minute Maid Park.

Mets owners under fire again

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz are once again under the gun by Irving H. Picard, the trustee in the Bernie Madoff investigation. While the two New York Mets owners are waiting to sell a stake in their team to help raise funds for the team, they’re getting another end run over whether they’re cooperating in the investigation or not. Wilpon and Katz have said they’ve been very forthcoming and have provided almost 700,000 pages of documents, while Picard is saying they haven’t been quite as transparent as you’d think.

First, most of the documents are routine financial statements that had nothing to do with the case. Picard charged that little of what was turned over was meaningful as far as determining whether they examined if Bernie Madoff was trustworthy or not and that most of the documents were just statements. In response to Picard’s claims, Wilpon and Katz are saying that Picard is complaining about not getting documents that he never asked for. I’m not involved in the case, but it looks like the Mets owners are just trying to bury the opposition in paperwork, but we’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out.

McCourt wants judge to allow Dodgers television deal

It looks like the fate of the Los Angeles Dodgers may eventually be in the hands of the courts. Late last week, owner Frank McCourt asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to clear the way for the Dodgers to sign a television deal with Fox. At the same time, ex-wife Jamie McCourt asked the judge to force the sale of the team and argued that Frank had led the team to the brink of financial ruin. The key date in this issue is June 22, because that’s when Gordon will hear both issues.

The interesting fact is, it might not even get that far. The big key is whether the Dodgers will be able to make payroll up to that point. If May 31 comes and goes, and the Dodgers can’t pay their people, it opens things up for the league to take over the team. If he can somehow manage to make payroll, it buys Frank McCourt some time. Fox doesn’t want to sign a television deal until they know Jamie won’t fight things, so there are a lot of moving parts here, and it involves people who don’t necessarily like each other. It looks like this story is going to keep on rolling at least for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.

Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.

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