December 14, 2017

Hoops polls — more Lebron and destinations:
Rockets maybe? Lakers maybe? Sixers NO

LeBron James
Per respondents in my first poll, as many of you think LeBron James will stay in Cleveland next year rather than join Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, et al in LaLa Land. Only one thinks he'll go to the other side of LaLa Land with Blake Griffin and the Clippers. (OK, I confess, that was me.)

I think the likelihood of him moving is now less than when I ran the poll. But, I'm not yet 100 percent convinced he'll stay.

I personally was the one Clippers voter. But, with Blake injured again, and the team facing some tough choices, I think that option is gone. I mean, Austin Rivers is their top offensive option right now.

Meanwhile, the latest story says the Lakers aren't likely — but the Rockets may be. Of course, there's no way they can give LBJ a max contract right now. James Harden plus Chris Paul block that. Plus, the rising Clint Capela will want more.

There's a sidebar to all this, and that's his mileage. Yes, the King is having an incredible year this year. But, by the end of the year, he should be in the top 20 all time in career minutes. And, he'd probably be in the top 15 by the end of next year. The "finish line" is surely getting closer. How well will he make a transition to no longer being, at least not all the time, the alpha male on his team? He's been a great passer so far, but, at some point, there may be a point where he's simply no longer the best crunch-time scoring option.

That could certainly be the case if he went to the Rockets. Harden would be the first option in most cases.

And, per this story, why would I want LBJ in Philly? The Process, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric et al? Why screw that up with an aging LBJ who will want to be the center of action?

December 13, 2017

OK, Texas Greens — it's ballot access petition time
(Update: That's if it does any good)

The Texas Secretary of State reports no Democrat filed for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8.

Assuming some Green DID file for that spot, that's an obvious chance for the party to get 5 percent in a statewide race and have automatic party ballot access in 2020. (I left a message on the newest post on Texas GP's Facebook page, and I've already tagged it on a Tweet.

Update: No Green did file for that race. Sadly. Unbelievably.

When the Greens have maintained their 5 percent in the past, it's ALWAYS been because of a CCA race. When they lost it in 2016, it was because of a CCA race.

The party had four applicants, three of them for statewide office. Jan Richards is far more qualified for governor than Brandon Parmer of four years ago. Her platform is not bad, but as of right now, it appears to fall short of Democrat Tom Wakely's. Jamar Osborne is running again for AG, as he did in 2014. George Reiter (the UH physics prof?) is running for the Railroad Commission. And, James Partsch-Galvan is running for CD 29.

Note: Expect a post 10-20 days or so after the date of this this one to compare platforms of Richards, Wakely and Loopy Lupe Valdez in more detail, with updates as primary election day approaches.

A week before the filing deadline, Dems announced a slate of state Supreme Court and CCA candidates. At that time, CCA Place 8 was the donut hole. And state Greens couldn't get anybody to run for it?

The skinny on petition driving? The party will need about 48,000 valid signatures. Petition drive time period is March 14-May 27, 2018. More details here and at links on that page.

I live in a highly conservative small town area. Plus, arguably, it wouldn't be ethical for me to run a petition drive.

That said, not only will I sign a petition, if asked, I'll tell people where they can go to sign, if somebody like Dallas Greens announces a date in advance.

Update: I think. Because, barring Justin Nelson as the Dem for AG or either Chris Spellmon or Roman McAllan for the RRC being a clusterfuck, the Greens aren't getting 5 percent. (Sorry, Ms. Richards, but you sure aren't against either Wakely or Loopy Lupe Valdez. I might well vote for you if Loopy Lupe is the nominee, but 5 percent of voting Texans won't join me.)

This presumes the state party says yes to a drive, which it sure as hell should do, given the info in the first paragraph.

Update: Well, maybe not. If it couldn't think ahead and recruit ahead on the legal races, will it have a good, organized petition drive? And, if it does, and gets on the ballot, to what end? Three candidates to be listed in most the state. And an almost certain loss of ballot access again.

So, I think the state party needs to ask whether the effort in a petition drive, to list just three candidates if successful, followed by the almost certain loss of ballot access again, and having to start from ground zero, would be better for the party's future than simply waiting until 2020.

I don't know. I don't claim to have that answer. But, it's a question that needs to be asked. 

That's especially true given the racism-related charges and other infighting that fueled this year's state party convention.

Rob Manfred and Giancarlo Stanton trade:
Where's the Bowie Kuhn action?

Giancarlo Stanton: The Yankees' fire-sale Christmas present
When I read the ludicrous trade return that Miami Marlins hack pseudo-GM Derek Jeter got back from the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton I was outraged. I mean, Starlin Castro plus A-ball low-tier "prospects" Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers? Odds are Guzman never sees a major league stadium from the inside unless he's buying a ticket. Jeter arguably got a better deal from the Mariners for Dee Gordon.

Not just because I'm a Cardinals fan, but because of the ludicrousness of the trade in general. After all, the Giants made a better offer than did the Yankees, and the Cardinals, even if they haven't made the playoffs the last two years, have had winning records, undercutting Stanton's using his no-trade to steer the trade there.

First, last week, Commissioner Rob Manfred promised to investigate the Shohei Ohtani signing to make sure there were no under-the-table offers. So why isn't he investigating a fake trade with over-the-counter shenanigans?

There IS precedent.

I'm old enough to remember when Bowie Kuhn voided the trades that A's owner Charlie O. Finley made of Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue. (I disagree with Kuhn voiding a later trade of Blue to the Reds for prospect players.) They were just as lopsided as this, and Manfred should take the same action, or at least look into it. As far as I know, he still has the power to do so.

In another sport, there's more modern precedent. Then NBA-Commish David Stern voided the three-way trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers from the Hornets for Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Pau Gasol moving to either the Hornets or the Rockets.

As for Jeter and his gutting of the team even more than Jeff Loria slimed it? If he's honest about the team losing, not just money in general, but THAT MUCH money? Then, commish? You need to either move that team or contract it. Ditto on the Rays. You need to be honest about owners books for the fans, and for the players at the next collective bargaining talks.

Add up that the Yankees have dumped Chase Headley on the Padres for scrubini Jabari Blash, who has no chance of OF playing time with Stanton there. (Yes, the Padres also got Bryan Mitchell, but he's a sucky set-up reliever who the Pads are surely overvaluing.) Seriously, the Yankees are being allowed to get away with this shite, since Brian Cashman may now get under the lux tax line with dumping Headley PLUS the Fish eating part of Stanton's contract?

In reality, Manfred has no cojones and will do nothing.

I don't begrudge Stanton his no-trade clause. Nor his exercising it. I said that in my piece about the trade. I do begrudge Brian Cashman acting like a vulture because of it, because of the Jeter group's overpaying for the team and because of how he's handled the team since then.

And, above all, I begrudge Manfred for not addressing it. And, Stanton? With the full no-trade, YOU made the decision to jump in the Marlins' boat in the first place.

Also, when are more people, including Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and also stop making excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?

December 12, 2017

TX Progressives wrangle about state election filings, Jerusalem, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance wonders if Donald Trump has ever heard of Krampus as it brings you this week's roundup.

The actual progressive Texas Democratic candidates -- as well as the ones pretending to be -- are in PDiddie at Brains and Eggs' latest post.

SocraticGadfly offered his take on Trump, with egging on from top Democrats, naming Jerusalem the capital of Israel.


EgbertoWillies.com covered Indivisible Houston's tax protests and Net Neutrality protests.

Neil at All People Have Value said even if the external world is in disorder, we can still move up and up and up. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

As Texas Leftist slowly makes an effort to get back in the saddle for 2018, heís thankful for the incredible work of all of his blogging colleagues. Before we leap into next yearís political hopefuls, itís worth note that a former Texas elected official made a big move this week. Get ready to see and hear more from Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker in 2018.

Dos Centavos is looking forward to the 2018 Democratic primary.

=================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Standard notes that the Texas Legislature approaches a day of reckoning over sexual misconduct by lawmakers.

Texas Vox wants part of the Volkswagen settlement with the state to go to electric vehicles.

Chuck Smith breaks down the Colorado bake shop/same sex marriage case that was argued at SCOTUS.

The Bloggess is once again spearheading a grassroots effort to help people in need for the holidays.

Dwight Silverman has some advice for people who are looking for gifts for their techie friends and family.

Better Texas Blog explains how the Republican tax cut bill threatens local and state public services.
Mean Green Cougar Red tries to wrap his min around flat earthers.

Free Press Houston interviews Silky Malik, one of the candidates to replace Ted Poe in the Second Congressional District.

Paradise in Hell applauds the selection by Sports Illustrated of JJ Watt and Jose Altuve as co-Sportspersons of the Year for 2017.

December 11, 2017

Hoops polls — LeBron, Knicks

Per respondents in my first poll, as many of you think LeBron James will stay in Cleveland next year rather than join Lonzo Ball et al in LaLa Land. Only one thinks he'll go to the other side of LaLa Land with Blake Griffin and the Clippers.

I think the likelihood of him moving is now less than when I ran the poll. But, I'm not yet 100 percent convinced he'll stay.

I personally was the one Clippers voter. But, with Blake injured again, and the team facing some tough choices, I think that option is gone.

Meanwhile, the latest story says the Lakers aren't likely — but the Rockets may be. Of course, there's no way they can give LBJ a max contract right now.

There's a sidebar to all this, and that's his mileage. Yes, the King is having an incredible year this year. But, by the end of the year, he should be in the top 20 all time in career minutes. And, he'd probably be in the top 15 by the end of next year. The "finish line" is surely getting closer. How well will he make a transition to no longer being, at least not all the time, the alpha male on his team? He's been a great passer so far, but, at some point, there may be a point where he's simply no longer the best crunch-time scoring option.

That could certainly be the case if he went to the Rockets. Harden would be the first option in most cases.

==

Next, the Knicks-Thunder trade of Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter. Only one of five thinks the Thunder won this now or will win it in the future. Two called it both a short-term and a long-term win for the Knicks, while I and one other called it a short-term draw, long-term win.

I wasn't specific, but I meant short-term to be this year, not the first one-quarter of this year.

At worst, from the Knicks POV, I think it's a short-term draw, and may wind up being a short-term win. If they make the playoffs this year, it's definitely a win. Ditto if, even if they don't make it this year, the Thunder don't get past the first round out West. Kanter and Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis are playing pretty well together — when both are healthy.

December 09, 2017

#Cardinals look to Plan B after Stanton spooks out

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Miami Marlins $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton won't waive his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis, even while remaining clueless about the lux tax — especially since it gets tougher in some ways in its new version and not realizing that it is highly unlikely either the Dodgers or the Yankees are going to trade for him — unless, as appears, Brian Cashman has done a volte face on lux tax issues in Gotham, with Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks could be near fruition.

So, what's next in St. Louie?

The Plan B of some sort that informed fans have always known was on the back burner of the Hot Stove League and now is on the front burner.

And, let's at least be thankful the Iron Galoot said no before the start of winter meetings, so Mozeliak and Girsch are already in position to deal.

Marcel Ozuna
Christian Yelich
One portion, or one fork, of that Plan B is looking at Stanton's current outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

But, that's not the Cards' only option.

Florida's other low-budget baseball team (and more on that later), the Tampa Bay Rays, could also become a trade partner.

Evan Longoria
The Cardinals have already hinted at Alex Colomé being a trade target to be their new closer. More recently, the Birds have also hinted at asking about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

If the ask by Miami, in turns of return players, isn't too, too high for Yelich or Ozuna, it's certainly possible Longoria could also be a target. His next three years are at or under $15 million. He goes to $18M and $19M after that, with a $13M team option in the sixth year left on his contract. Yelich has a $15M team option that same year. Even without exercising his opt-out, Stanton himself, at $29M, would be making a million more in 2022.

So, yes, both are affordable in terms of salary, Yelich, or Ozuna possible, plus Longoria.

Now, are they affordable in terms of trade, of players?

Let's think. For Yelich or Ozuna?

Either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for starters. Either Yelich is in left, and Tommy Pham is your likely center fielder with Dexter Fowler in right, or Ozuna is in right and Fowler in left. (Though he needs to be out of center, I'm OK with Fowler in right.) Add other players as necessary without breaking the prospect bank.

For landing Longoria? Cards third baseman Jedd Gyorko would of course be redundant. As with the Miami OF trade, add other players as necessary. Gyorko is somewhat cheaper, with the Pads picking up $3M of his contract each of the next two years, and a bit younger. After that, the Rays could pick up his team option, and after that, decide whether to give him a QO or just let him walk. Throw in a mid-level prospect to sweeten the pot, maybe, or otherwise add players as necessary.

Especially if the Cards made both these trades happen?

Giancarlo Grifter, if we throw out 2017, while at the same time normalizing his previous years, with their injuries, to 162-game stats is a 5-WAR guy who doesn't walk a lot and isn't that fast.

Yelich + Longoria are 6 WAR or better. And, they have more stable stats, generally, than Stanton, or Ozuna.

But, the Cards may need to temper their thoughts on Yelich or Ozuna. If Jeter is successful in dumping Stanton for no bigger salary back than Starlin Castro, as is being rumored, he may not have a major urgency in moving other players.

Of course, there's a different path in Plan B, too.

Josh Donaldson
On Twitter, James Cameron suggested a week ago he thought this was better for the Cardinals. He has a proposed trade on Fangraphs: The Cardinals send Gyrko and current first baseman Matt Carpenter to Toronto for top-flight third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Pluses? Donaldson has higher performance than Giancarlo Stanton, and certainly above Yelich or Ozuna, and about what one of them plus Longoria have combined in WAR.

Minuses? A free agent after this year. And, Donaldson is four years older than Stanton, and several years older than Yelich and Ozuna. and at a position where people don't play much after 35. Plus, in the first version of Plan B, Longoria's available for a lot less.

And on contracts, remember the last one-year player for whom the Cards traded? Jason Heyward crashed and burned here, then got the Cubs to overpay him.

So, I'm against Cameron. But, it is theoretically an option.

Now, an additional word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

Cashman in New York WAS under orders to get below the lux tax line. The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia. The Dodgers would, at a minimum, I think, like to get below that $40M-plus threshold for 2018, and absolutely for 2019.

But, if Cash Man makes this trade, they're possibly still above the lux tax and at the multiple repeater 50 percent rate. (This was written before the Yanks dumped Chase Headley for a scrubbini.) In fact, they're probably at the smaller 12.5 percent tax level at the $20M-plus mark. And, when others want their paydays in the future? Almost surely at that $40M-plus threshold. They're lucky to still have two pre-arb years on Aaron Judge. Wonder if MLBPA is going to use his case to ask to further address arbitration-related issues down the road.

More details on some of those issues at this post of mine.

If both Ozuna and Yelich get traded, and the Yankees deal falls through, that lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. It should fall through, but Manfred won't investigate it.

Sidebar — When are more people, including Commish Rob Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and not make excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?

December 08, 2017

Screw you Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Derek Jeter, the public face and everyday executive of new Miami Marlins ownership, is trying to dump salary, as already shown with the Dee Gordon trade, and with hinting to $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton that if he won't waive his no-trade clause, more salary will have to be traded away elsewhere.

Well, the Iron Giant still believes in tooth fairies in either the Bronx or Chavez Ravine, apparently, as he has refused trades to both the Cardinals and the Giants.

OK, let's look and see just how delusional Stanton's Yankees and Dodgers hopes are.

First, the Yankees.

Well, no, first, a word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

NOW, the Yankees.

Brian Cashman is NOT trading Aaron Judge. And likely not Aaron Hicks. So, that blocks two outfield spots right there. Jeter is not taking back Jacoby Ellsbury and three more years of $21 million per if he's trying to dump salary. He's probably not taking back two years of Brett Gardner at roughly the same salary as the just-traded Gordon. So, that blocks ALL starting outfield spots. Besides, Cashman is reportedly under mandate to get below the $195M lux tax line. (The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia.) Besides, the Yankees went to the ALCS last year with a young team and a manager disconnected to some degree from many players. They don't really need you.

I stand by that as of this time even in the face of Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks are heating up. In a note on the Yankees' webpage at ESPN, Andrew Marchand admits it would have to be a convoluted deal, with the Yankees trying to shove salary down Jeter's throat, which he's already indicated he won't do, with the Gordon trade. Plus, Marchand also reminds that Ellsbury had a no-trade clause of his own. Is he going to Miami? Nuh-uh. (Oh, and note to Buster Olney? If the Dodgers ain't interested, there's no "leverage" for the Marlins to gain.)

Now, it might be just possible for Cashman to do a three-team trade, but he'd probably have to send at least a couple of prospects of some sort to that third team, then.

Update: Apparently Cashman pulled off his deal. Either he's worse on lux-tax math than he would appear to be, or else he's dumping more salary back to Miami besides Starlin Castro, or else there's going to a modern America version of income inequality on that team. Per Cots, with relatively low estimates (I think) on what the Yankees' arb-eligible and pre-arb players will get offered, swapping Stanton's contract for Castro's puts them at $170M. Add $11M or so for medical/pension contributions and you're at $181 without accounting for the 15 players not on the 25-man but who are on the 40-man. At a minimum, it's not going to be as easy-breezy as Andrew Marchand seems to present it.

Next, the Dodgers, for whom Miami talking to the Yankees is NOT a stalking horse.

First, they've got the highest payroll in MLB, well over the luxury tax line. They got down to "just" $241M last year, after $249 in 2016 and $271 in 2015. And, Clayton Kershaw has an opt-out on his current contract after this year. They could dump Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig after next year, but their two contracts combined will be less than Stanton's out-years one. (Technically, the Dodgers do have a year of arb control with Puig in 2019, though his current contract ends after next year.) The team would surely love to get below the tax line in 2019 (it almost surely can't this coming year) to get a reset from being a repeat offender, as they're paying a 50 percent tax on the overage rate right now, and that's without the surtaxes and draft spot punishments in the new version of the tax.

That's not to say the Dodgers won't consider nosing around next year, if they're willing to pay the repeater tax again, but on salary of no more than $235M, to get below that higher surtax level.

For shits and giggles, since he's from the Southland, let's talk Angels. No dice. The Ghost of Albert Pujols' contract has four years left. (Supposedly, Phat Albert is working to slim down this offseason, but we shall see. For my take on him in the middle of last summer, go here.) At the same time, they have just three years on the Mike Trout deal and will want to extend him. Plus, there's Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron and just-signed Shonei Ohtani to play the outfield. Besides, Arte Moreno is more averse to the lux tax than his cross-town rivals, and adding Stanton, unless he could dump a certain amount back on Jeter, would push him just a bit over.

So, the Cardinals will move on to Plan B. With Miami, that includes looking at Stanton's outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

Bonus? If the trade price in players isn't too high, his salary is low enough that the Cards can ask about Evan Longoria from the Rays, who has a quite club-friendly contract for the next couple of years, and then a neutral one at the tail end, as a package with desired closer Alex Colomé.

Some other teams may nose around for whichever outfielder the Cards don't get of Yelich and Ozuna.

That lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. Have fun, dude.

You're now with an owner who fired a staffer last month while he was in the hospital!