Homers in Yankee Stadium: at least the fans like them

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As many folks — myself included — lament the homerriffic qualities of new Yankee Stadium, Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger reminds us that, for a lot of folks, homers = fun:

The pitchers can whine all they want, but the fans were tickled when
that Cabrera fly ball cleared the wall. They came to have a good time,
and at a baseball game, nothing generates more fun than the long ball.
Which is what makes the outrage about the new Yankee Stadium so hard to
understand. Yes, the ballpark is yielding dingers at a record pace.
Yes, some of them are cheaper than a thrift-store suit.

But what, exactly, are people so worried about? Ruining the sanctity of the record book? Little late for that, no?

Baseball is the only sport where anyone worries about too much
offense. The NHL practically rewrote its rulebook for more goals. The
NFL would let its quarterbacks throw from behind a moat if it meant
more touchdown passes. And there is a reason millions of Americans hate
soccer. Thursday afternoon, it was hard to find too many critics of the
homer-friendly park.

He offers lots of quotes from fans who have quite obviously been having
a good time at the new joint, easy homers or not. And hey, you can’t
blame them. The point of this game is to entertain, and people are
certainly entertained. Indeed, the only negative sentiment in this
article comes from Rangers’ reliever C.J. Wilson, who called Melky
Cabrera’s homer yesterday “a deep fly ball to short left field.” He
thought it was a popup but “then I was like, ‘Oh crap, I forgot where
we are.'”

Fans’ happiness or not, it is sentiments like Wilson’s that will
really going to decide if a having a homer-friendly park in the Bronx
is a good idea. Right now the Yankees are set for the next several
years with Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Wang, and Chamberlain in the
rotation (I’m assuming Pettitte is gone after this year). But at some
point, the Yankees are going to want to bring in the next CC Sabathia.
Maybe it will be a 29 year-old David Price or a 27 or 28 year-old
Stephen Strasburg. If, by that time, the Stadium is still playing like
a bandbox, I can’t help but think that it won’t be as easy to attract
those sorts of guys. Sure, the Yankees have money, but they’re already
overpaying guys to deal with the hassle and pressure of playing in New
York. How much more will they have to overpay if an inflated ERA is
part of the deal as well?

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.

Pirates sign outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert

Jake Goebbert

The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.

Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com.

Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.

Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.