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The deadline for signing '11 MLB draft picks was midnight last night, and "when the dust settled, nearly every team got the players they wanted," according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The day began with 23 of 33 first-round picks "unsigned and ended with all but one coming to terms with the team that drafted them back in June." The Pirates gave No. 1 overall pick P Gerrit Cole an $8M signing bonus to "set a record for a Minor League deal." The team also gave a $5M bonus to second-round pick Josh Bell. In total, the Pirates spent more than $17M in draft bonuses, a "new record." Each of the 22 first-round picks who signed on deadline day ended up getting a deal "above the recommended slot" from MLB. The Blue Jays "were not able to agree on a deal with Tyler Beede, who will honor his commitment" to Vanderbilt Univ. (MLB.com, 8/16). BASEBALL AMERICA's Conor Glassey notes for the "fifth year in a row, Major League Baseball tried to clamp down on draft bonuses ... and for the fifth year in a row, teams spent big money anyway." Teams "dished out signing bonuses worth a total of $69.6 million to lock up 21 of 22 unsigned first-round picks." Six draftees "received bonuses of $5 million of more." Cole's $8M bonus surpasses the $7.5M Nationals P Stephen Strasburg received two years ago as the "largest bonus in draft history." The "biggest surprise of the night came when the Pirates signed Bell," who was "dead-set on attending" the Univ. of Texas. His $5M bonus "set a record for a player drafted outside the first round, eclipsing the previous mark" by $2.25M (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 8/16).'11 MLB FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKSPICK
TEAM PLAYERDATE SIGNEDCONTRACT1 Pirates P Gerrit Cole8/15$8.00M2 Mariners P Danny Hultzen8/15$8.50M3 D'Backs P Trevor Bauer7/25$4.40M4 Orioles P Dylan Bundy8/15$6.23M5 Royals OF Bubba Starling8/15$7.50M6 Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon8/15$7.20M7 D'Backs P Archie Bradley8/15$5.00M8 Indians SS Francisco Lindor8/15$2.90M9 Cubs SS Javier Baez8/15$2.70M10 Padres 2B Cory Spangenberg6/10$2.63M11 Astros OF George Springer8/15$2.53M12 Brewers P Taylor Jungmann8/15$2.53M13 Mets OF Brandon Nimmo8/15$2.10M14 Marlins P Jose Fernandez8/15$2.00M15 Brewers P Jed Bradley8/15$2.00M16 Dodgers P Chris Reed8/12$1.59M17 Angels 1B C.J. Cron6/28$1.47M18 A's P Sonny Gray7/25$1.54M19 Red Sox P Matt Barnes8/15$1.50M20 Rockies P Tyler Anderson8/15$1.50M21 Blue Jays P Tyler BeedeDid not sign22 Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong6/25$1.30M23 Nationals P Alex Meyer8/15$2.00M24 Rays P Taylor Guerrieri8/15$1.60M25 Padres P Joseph Ross8/15$2.75M26 Red Sox C Blake Swihart8/15$2.50M27 Reds P Robert Stephenson8/15$2.00M28 Braves P Sean Gilmartin7/15$1.13M29 Giants SS Joseph Panik6/11$1.12M30 Twins SS Levi Michael8/15$1.18M31 Rays OF Mike Mahtook8/15$1.15M32 Rays SS Jake Hager6/23$960,00033 Rangers P Kevin Matthews6/16$940,000
PIRATES: In Pittsburgh, Michael Sanserino notes signing Cole and Bell "appeared somewhat of a long shot heading into Monday, and the feat is a bit of a coup" for Pirates GM Neal Huntington. The $17M the Pirates spent signing picks "will likely place them near the top of the league in terms of total investment for the fourth consecutive year." The team gave ninth-round selection Clay Holmes a $1.2M bonus, a "record deal for a player selected that late in the draft" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/16). MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch notes signing both Cole and Bell "was something most thought would be nearly impossible for the Pirates, even given Pittsburgh's commitment to paying above-slot dollars." Lauded for "committing close to $31 million in signing bonuses over the past three Drafts, the Pirates exceeded their previous franchise high ($11.9 million in 2010) by more than $5 million this year." With only three weeks remaining in the Minor League season, Cole and Bell "are not expected to make their professional debuts this year" (MLB.com, 8/16). Huntington said that as part of the "ebb and flow of negotiations, sometimes they felt like they had a good chance of signing both, and sometimes they felt like they had no chance." Signing Cole "wasn't so much a question of if, but for how much." Bell, however, had been so serious about honoring his commitment to UT that he "sent a letter to Major League Baseball's scouting bureau asking not to be drafted" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/16). MLB.com's Mayo said of Bell, "I’ve got to tell you, I told some people that I would fall off my chair, on the set, if he signed. I am very glad we are standing up right now” ("MLB Tonight Live," MLB Network, 8/15).
BLUE JAYS: In Toronto, Mark Zwolinski reports the Blue Jays did not sign Beede after "coming up short in negotiations by a reported $1 million." Beede "was said to be asking for $3.5 million while the Jays were said to have offered $2.5 million." The Blue Jays will get the "22nd-overall pick next year as compensation for not signing Beede." The team did reach an agreement with second-round pick Dan Norris, reportedly for $2M, while signing supplemental first-round pick Kevin Comer and 13th-round pick Matt Dean. Zwolinksi writes Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his staff "certainly took an aggressive, even risky approach to this year's draft." They "went after Beede and Norris despite both players hinting at huge money values." The Blue Jays "paid well over slot for several players this year and have shown as an organization that they will set aggressive, competitive evaluations on players -- but not exceed them." The team "signed 33 of 55 players they drafted, and 11 of their top 13" (TORONTO STAR, 8/16). The Blue Jays' "first call to Beede last night came at 11:10 p.m." Beede said that they "called with their final offer at 11:55 p.m.," but he "stuck to his original request of $3.5 million." He said that the "negotiations ended there." Beede: "They were still far off. They ended up getting to $2.5 million, but that still wasn't what we valued the Vanderbilt education at. It was obviously the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but I'm tremendously excited" (WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE, 8/16). Anthopoulos said, "I've always felt when it comes to the draft, I don't know that there's a whole lot to negotiate" (MLB.com, 8/16).
ROYALS: In K.C., Rustin Dodd notes the Royals' signing of No. 5 overall pick Bubba Starling ended "perhaps the most watched negotiations in franchise history." Starling "set aside his flirtation" with the Univ. of Nebraska to play football and "accepted the Royals’ offer of a club-record signing bonus." The deal "will pay Starling $7.5 million spread over three years." Agent Scott Boras "advised Starling throughout the summer and at one point was believed to be seeking a deal approaching $10 million." Had he chosen to attend Nebraska, Starling would have been the "highest first-round pick to go unsigned" since J.D. Drew was selected No. 2 by the Phillies in '97. In Starling, the Royals acquire an "extremely marketable player" (K.C. STAR, 8/16). Royals GM Dayton Moore said of the Royals' owners, "I've got to thank the Glass family for all of the support they continue to give us as we add to our organization" (MLB.com, 8/16).
NATIONALS: In DC, Adam Kilgore reports the Nationals "signed their first five picks for roughly $16.5 million combined, smashing the signing bonuses recommended by Major League Baseball’s slot system with all five players." It "sent a message: The Nationals will try to build a winner through the draft, sparing little expense." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: "We’re the talk of the industry right now. This just solidifies us, to me, as one of the great scouting and player development organizations in baseball." Kilgore notes if the Nationals had "adhered to the signing bonuses recommended by MLB, they would have spent about $5.2 million" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/16). Also in DC, Amanda Comak writes the Nationals "have not shied away from spending big-time money on the draft, dropping nearly $14 million last year on four players" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/16).
ORIOLES: In Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec reports the Orioles inked No. 4 overall pick Dylan Bundy to a five-year MLB contract that "includes a $4 million signing bonus." Orioles Dir of Amateur Scouting Joe Jordan said a report that Bundy got a guaranteed $6.225M is "in the ballpark." The Orioles knew Bundy "would be tough to sign." Before the draft he "made it known that he was looking for a $30 million signing bonus." However, both sides "knew that figure wasn't realistic, and Jordan maintained that he didn't plan to set any records in signing Bundy" (Baltimore SUN, 8/16).
AROUND THE HORN: In Seattle, Larry Stone cites sources as saying that No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen "received a $6.35 million signing bonus" from the Mariners, and the "maximum value of the deal is $10.6 million." The guarantee is the "fifth-largest in draft history." Hultzen was said to be "seeking a four-year, $13 million contract" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/16)....The Rays "spent nearly $10-million on bonuses" for their top 12 draft picks. The Rays gave first-round pick Taylor Guerrieri a $1.6M bonus, which is "about $400,000 over the recommended slot" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 8/16)....Scott Boras' son, 30th-round pick Trent Boras "failed to reach an agreement" with the Brewers. Scott Boras said, "We made the decision long ago that we wanted him to go to college. The Brewers gave us every courtesy of working with him" (ESPN.com, 8/16).
EPL club Manchester United is "planning to raise around US$1 billion from a Singapore initial public offering in the fourth quarter," according to sources cited by Venkat & Ho of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The move is the "latest foreign listing to tap Asia's funding markets." The sources said that Credit Suisse Group "had been mandated by the U.K. club as sole global coordinator and bookrunner on the deal." Another source said that other banks "will be added as bookrunners on the IPO later on." The sources said that ManU had initially planned to "list in Hong Kong, but changed its mind and has now picked Singapore." Venkat & Ho note ManU previously had been listed on the London Stock Exchange, but the club was "delisted in 2005 after U.S. investor Malcolm Glazer bought the club." Forbes ranks ManU as the "world's most valuable football team in 2011, valuing the club at US$1.86 billion" (WSJ.com, 8/16).
CELTIC WARRIORS: In Scotland, Stephen Halliday reports Scottish Premier League club Celtic had its "lowest turnover ... in ten years" for the year ending June 30. Not reaching the "group stage of either the Champions League or Europa League last season was the primary factor in Celtic suffering a drop of almost 15 per cent in turnover." The club had revenue of US$86.1M, a drop almost US$14.75M "from the previous 12-month period." It is Celtic's "lowest turnover since 2001, the year before they competed in the Champions League group stage for the first time." The club has "successfully managed the decline in revenue, with yesterday's accounts showing their debt reduced" to US$868,375, compared to US$9.58M at the same point last year (THE SCOTSMAN, 8/16). In London, Graham Spiers notes turnover "isn't everything ... but it is still an indicator of how vibrantly you are doing business," and Celtic is "feeling the pinch." The team three years ago had 54,000 season-ticket holders, but that figure "was down to 42,500 for 2010-11." The team yesterday indicated that the "present season-ticket figure was up to around 44,000, but we are still looking at a reduction compared to recent seasons" (LONDON TIMES, 8/16).
The MLB Rangers are suing former owner Tom Hicks “in state district court in Dallas, alleging that he enriched himself at the expense of the club,” according to Gary Jacobson of DALLAS MORNING NEWS. JPMorgan Chase Bank, "on behalf of creditors, now seeks at least $35.4 million from Hicks, alleging that he was wrongly relieved of an obligation to invest more of his own money in his sports holding company” to support the team. The filed complaint states HSG Holdings, Hicks’ company, “attempted to conceal the fraudulent nature of the commitment termination.” The complaint was filed yesterday, and Hicks spokesperson Lisa LeMaster said, “We welcome the opportunity to challenge these allegations in court.” Jacobson reports the lawsuit “filed on behalf of Texas Rangers Baseball Partners and its bankruptcy plan administrator” says that Hicks used more than $30M "from the Rangers to buy land and build parking lots” for Ballpark Real Estate LP, a Hicks-controlled company. The complaint states Hicks “embarked on a scheme to build a real estate empire on the backs of Texas Rangers’ players and creditors and fans of the team” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/16). In Ft. Worth, Barry Shlachter reports LeMaster rejected the lawsuit’s claims “as baseless and said they represent a ‘bizarre flip-flop' by the team’s major creditors.” JPMorgan Chase asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn to “disallow a $5.6 million claim by Hicks on the Rangers’ bankruptcy assets, asserting that it is not a loan by the team owner but an infusion of equity” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/16).
REMEMBERING A FALLEN FAN: The Rangers yesterday announced plans for a future statue outside Rangers Ballpark that will honor Shannon Stone, the fan who died from injuries suffered in a ballpark fall July 7. The full-size bronze statue, tentatively named Rangers Fans, should be in place for the '12 season. It will depict Stone and his six-year-old son, Cooper, attending a Rangers game and will likely be located outside the home plate gate. The Rangers will fund the project and are in the early stages of considering sculptors to design and create the statue (Rangers).
The fortunes of N.Y.’s football teams have "quickly shifted," and though the Jets “have a ways to go to breach Giants territory, they are gaining ground,” according to Daniel Massey of CRAINS N.Y. BUSINESS. In advertising rates and TV ratings, the gap between the two “is nonexistent, and the Jets are closing in on the Giants' total fan base.” Media buyer UM Senior Market Specialist Jennifer Renda said that both clubs “command $50,000 to $70,000 for a 30-second local television spot.” Renda: “I'd think within the next month or two, the Jets will probably edge out the Giants and command 10% to 15% more.” Nielsen reported the Jets also “edged out the Giants in local TV ratings last season, 15.8 to 15.7,” though one Giants game “lost viewers because of the Fox-Cablevision battle.” Scarborough Sports Research found that in the past year, “40% of adults in the New York area watched, listened to or attended a Giants game, compared with 37% for the Jets.” The “fan base deficit of 3 percentage points is down from 8 points” in '09. The Jets also “have nearly 169,000 Twitter followers, highest in the league and more than five times the Giants' number.” The Giants have “26% more Facebook fans, but the Jets are 10th on Activ8Social's top 30 list of global sports teams on Facebook.” Still, Giants Senior VP & CMO Mike Stevens said that his team ranks in the NFL's “top three in both sponsorship and ticket revenue.” And aside from “a few PSLs held out for sponsors, all Giants licenses have been sold.” The Jets are “still marketing some PSLs, and did not disclose revenue rankings” (CRAINS N.Y. BUSINESS, 8/14 issue).
Agent Fred Wray yesterday said that the MLBPA “intends to investigate the decision” of the Marlins to send his client LF Logan Morrison to their Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans Saturday, but “people close to the situation don't think the union will find any grounds for a grievance, even though Morrison was demoted just hours after he refused to attend a team-sponsored event with season-ticket holders,” according to Joe Capozzi of the PALM BEACH POST. Some Marlins players privately said that Morrison “has been so outspoken that he had all but invited management to punish him.” The players said that Morrison “should have taken more seriously a comment made in May by team president David Samson, who was concerned about off-color remarks Morrison had made on Twitter.” Samson in May said, "I've told Logan, no one will care about his tweets if they're coming from New Orleans.” The players said that they had warned Morrison to “tone down his comments and his demeanor.” One player said, "In five years, when you're a stud, that's when you can get away with that. It was a perfect time for them to do it because we're out of (the race).” Capozzi notes during Sunday’s game against the Giants, Marlins TV analyst Tommy Hutton “criticized Morrison's demotion.” But yesterday he said that the “decision could have some merit” (PALM BEACH POST, 8/16). Marlins C John Buck said, "I don't think anybody's telling him not to do the things that he does. I think it's, just don't let it be the main focus of who you are, because you're a pretty dang good baseball player” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 8/15).
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU TWEET: MLB Network's Dan Plesac said, "This is another lesson on how dangerous the social media can be." Plesac: "You come into an organization, and we all want to be liked and we all want to be popular. But I think that he took this to another level. The bottom line is this: Your performance on the field is going to dictate what comes your way off the field or how popular that you are. I think this is a very valuable lesson and I would assume that it is going to resonate throughout that entire Marlins’ organization" ("MLB Tonight Live," MLB Network, 8/15). ESPN's Jim Rome said Morrison's Twitter feed “may not be the only reason, but I’m guessing if he weren’t on Twitter he would still be up with the Marlins." Rome: "They didn’t send him down there to work on his game. They sent him down there to work on his attitude. They’re looking to send him a message, message being, ‘Keep your mouth shut. When we want your opinion we’ll ask for it, and focus on baseball’” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 8/15). But ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said the demotion was “punitive.” Wilbon: “I don’t see how this can stand given the players’ union and how they flex in baseball” (“PTI,” ESPN, 8/15).
Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio spoke yesterday at the Economic Forum of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and talked about “the economy and baseball,” but “perhaps the most ... newsworthy comments Attanasio made" were about the Bucks, according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. When asked about owning the Bucks, “it was telling that Attanasio did not say categorically he was not interested.” Attanasio: "I have learned in life -- the great lesson I learned actually from Michael Milken -- is to always keep your options open. I try to keep them open. I love the community and I love sports. It’s [U.S. Senator Herb Kohl’s] team. I have an enormous amount of commitments right now.” He said he has never been approached by Kohl about owning the team, and when asked if he has approached Kohl about ownership, he said, “No, not yet.” He later added, “I have to make sure I don’t get overextended. We will see what happens” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/16).
ECONOMIC FORECAST: Attanasio also voiced "measured optimism" about the country's economic prospects, saying corporate fundamentals are strong and that he does not see another recession looming. Attanasio: "'Is this 2008?' The answer to that, I thought, was 'no.' ... I don't think we're going into a double-dip recession." He added, “American companies have good earning power and healthy balance sheets, and have very smart people running them” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/16).
The NHL is "looking into" the Islanders’ promotion of a party Friday night for fans "to watch the re-airing of a Feb. 11 brawl-filled game against the Pittsburgh Penguins that resulted in multiple suspensions and the Islanders being fined $100,000,” according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, “We do not approve of the use, based on what we know.” Allen notes the Islanders are promoting the viewing party on their website under the headline, “#Isles vs. Pens rewind.” MSG Plus is re-airing the game Friday night (USA TODAY, 8/16). In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe reports Penguins GM Ray Shero “just shook his head and smiled when speaking of the Islanders’ plan to glorify a night that the Penguins believe was more of an ambush than a game.” Shero said, “If they want to revisit it, that’s fine. That’s not a game we want to revisit. We’ve put it behind us. We’re not proud of it. It’s time to move on” (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 8/16). Also in Pittsburgh, Shelly Anderson writes, “We get that there haven’t been a lot of highlight games involving the Islanders in recent seasons, but this seems a bit over the top, like inviting people to come cheer on a train wreck or at least a ‘Slap Shot’ remake” (POST-GAZETTE.com, 8/14). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, “I’d go to the party, I’d stand on the table and I’d yell, ‘This is why everybody thinks hockey fans are nuts. This is why your sport is a niche sport, you celebrating something like this. Shame on all of you’” ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/15).
In Phoenix, Paola Boivin notes “local fans are starting to respond” to the D’Backs, who are leading the NL West by 2.5 games. Team President & CEO Derrick Hall Friday night “on the spur of the moment … decided to offer $4 upper-deck tickets for Saturday's game against the Mets as a reaction to the team's four-game winning streak.” The offer was mentioned “only on Hall's Twitter account,” and “approximately 1,600 tickets were sold.” Boivin: “Not a bad social-media experiment for a team that has struggled recently to attract fans” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/16). Also in Phoenix, Dan Bickley noted an “estimated 5,000 people were walk-up customers” for the D’Backs games on Saturday and Sunday. Bickley: “Sports fans in Arizona finally seemed to grasp the magnitude of the team’s sudden ascension from last place” (AZCENTRAL.com, 8/15).
MINOR HOLDUP: Astros Owner Drayton McLane said that he spoke with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig on Sunday morning and again Monday. McLane said that he was told the “holdup” in approving the sale of the team to Jim Crane “had to do with the completion of background checks on Crane and an investment group that includes 11 principals and a larger group of smaller investors.” McLane said that he “has no concerns the deal, which will end his 18-year tenure as owner, will eventually be passed and was assured by Selig that the background checks ‘should take no more than 10 days to two weeks’ to be completed” (CHRON.com, 8/15).
THE CAT'S MEOW: NFL Panthers President Danny Morrison said that the lockout and “quick turnaround to get training camp started at Wofford College in Spartanburg took precedence this year over negotiating jersey ads.” Morrison: “We certainly haven’t ruled that out for training camp, but we have not implemented that to date.” An NFL spokesperson said that “20 of the 32 NFL clubs have sold ads on practice jerseys since the league approved the idea” in ’09 (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/12 issue). The Spartanburg (S.C.) Convention & Visitors Bureau said that “as of Wednesday evening, a franchise record of 27,071 fans had attended” Panthers training camp, breaking the team's "previous high of 26,760 fans recorded” last year (Spartanburg HERALD JOURNAL, 8/13).
FLY WITH ME: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's James Hookway notes AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes is looking to “buy a majority stake" in EPL club Queens Park Rangers, and analysts said that the move "could buy more exposure" for the airline "back home and abroad as it unrolls more long-haul routes through its AirAsia X Brand.” The airline has sponsored other sports teams in the past, including Manchester United and the Raiders (WSJ.com, 8/16).