The Business Front

Stories Making Headlines Around the Minors

• It seems unusual that the sale of an affiliated team could come as a complete surprise’"news of Harrisburg’s recent sale had been making headlines for months’"but there had been no reports of Triple-A Portland being on the market before this morning. The franchise was sold for the second time in two years when an ownership group led by Merritt Paulson, son of U.S. treasury secretary Henry Paulson, bought both the Beavers and the local minor league soccer team from developer Abe Alizadeh and the Portland Baseball Investment Group.

Terms of the deal were not released and the purchase still needs to be approved by the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball. The Sacramento Business Journal estimates that previous sale of the team in 2005 was for between $7 million and $12 million.

It will be interesting to see how much the team appreciated in the short period of time. Portland appears to be a market on the rise, with attendance improving by 40,000 from 2005 to 2006.

• Liberty Media makes its first personnel move since purchasing the Braves from Time Warner, naming Greg Heller vice president and general counsel. Heller has been the assistant team counsel for the Braves since 2000 in addition to serving in a dual role as senior counsel for Turner Sports and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. (“TBS”).

• Cleveland Indians 1995 third-round pick Brett Merrick, now an insurance salesman in Seattle, says he hit the lottery when the Mariners named him batting practice pitcher last season.

The players “all know I use to pitch in the minors,” Merrick told The Herald (Wash.). “And they like it because they say it looks like a pitcher coming at them. Some of the other (batting practice pitchers) are coaches or outfielders, and they throw like outfielders. But Raul (Ibanez) told me, ‘It’s nice to see it coming from someone that looks like a pitcher.’

“The other thing about these guys is that every time you throw batting practice, every one of them will come up to you afterward and say thank you. I think that’s pretty special.”

• The Orioles bask in Hall of Fame experience; minor leaguers get a taste of the big leagues in Cooperstown.