Ballparks should install nets down the lines

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New York Times’ blogger Tyler Kepner is impressed with the safety measures at Turner Field:

Turner Field is the second ballpark the Yankees have seen this
season with protective netting that extends beyond the norm. Every
stadium has a tall screen behind the plate to protect the fans from
hard-hit foul balls. Here in Atlanta, the Braves also have a shorter
screen, maybe eight feet off the ground, running in front of the seats
behind the on-deck circles on either side of the plate . . . Such
safety measures make sense, and should be in place at every ballpark.

Kepner cites the death of Mike Coolbaugh as a cautionary tale, and
notes how quickly baseball would act if the unthinkable happened and a
fan was killed by a foul ball. Such a thing is not unthinkable in my
hometown of Columbus, Ohio, however. That’s because a thirteen year-old girl was killed by an errant puck
during a Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game seven years ago. That
incident led to the implementation of mandatory netting at either end
of the rink in every arena. Before the incident there were all kinds of
arguments against putting up such nets. Afterward, those arguments lost
all currency.

The same applies to baseball. I’m sure people can construct all
kinds of arguments as to why they shouldn’t extend protective netting
down the lines. But in light of how big, strong, fast and, above all
else, close Major League batters are to the fans these days, none of
those arguments are enough to overcome the sheer logic and prudence
which dictates putting up some nets.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.

Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.

Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.