Link-O-Rama: Ken Williams' expensive day

Leave a comment

* Yesterday was an expensive one for White Sox general manager Ken Williams. Not only did he drop $60 million on Alex Rios, he also got a $56 jaywalking ticket for illegally crossing a street in front of Safeco Field in Seattle.
* After appearing in four games as a reliever since his call-up last month, 21-year-old Rockies prospect Jhoulys Chacin will make his first big-league start tonight against the Pirates.
* Bill Ladson of MLB.com confirmed that Cristian Guzman has cleared waivers, but also reports that “the Nationals have no intentions of trading Guzman.” Apparently the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for shortstop help.
* Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle speculates that Rich Aurilia will be let go by the Giants after having a conversation with bench coach Ron Wotus that “ended with the two men hugging.” Aurilia is hitting just .222 with a .565 OPS in 119 plate appearances, but ranks 15th in Giants history with 1,281 games played.
* Scott Spiezio has signed with the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League, where the 37-year-old former World Series hero joins Robert Fick, Damian Jackson, and Ben Johnson in playing for manager Phil Nevin.
* Splash News has photos of Alex Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Kate Hudson, hanging out with the Yankees’ wives. The blurb attached to the pictures amused me, because it was clearly written by someone who’s never watched a baseball game: “Maybe Kate is his A-Rod’s luck charm? He’s averaging more points now than his season average.” Heh.

Indians sign Brandon Guyer to a two-year extension

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Brandon Guyer #6 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates Rajai Davis #20 two-run home run during the eighth inning to tie the game 6-6 against the Chicago Cubs in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year contract with a club option for 2019.

The Indians acquired Guyer from the Rays at last year’s trade deadline. After coming to Cleveland he posted a line of .333/.438/.469 in 38 games. He’s a .262/.349/.402 hitter over 344 games in five seasons in the bigs. He has led the league in being hit by pitches for the past two seasons, getting plunked 24 times in 2015 and 31 times in 2016. He went 6-for-18 with four walks and two HBPs in the playoffs for Cleveland. The man will work to get on base, my friends. And he can play all three outfield positions.

Nice signing.

Sarasota County to build the Braves a new spring training facility

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-10-30-29-am
2 Comments

The Braves have trained at Walt Disney World for several years. The lease is up, however, and they’ve been on the hunt for a new facility for some time. Disney is just too geographically remote from most of the Grapefruit League facilities so they’ve looked on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for some time.

Their search appears to be over, however, as they have reached an agreement to move to Sarasota:

The Atlanta Braves formally plan to move the team’s spring training home to North Port in 2019, the team and Sarasota County announced Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement set the stage for final negotiations this spring on a contract to bring the Major League Baseball team to a new complex in the West Villages district just south of West Villages Parkway and U.S. 41, near the State College of Florida campus in North Port.

It’ll be a $75-$80 million complex on 70 acres. The story says it’s envisioned to anchor a “town center” commercial and residential district. If anyone has ever been to a spring training facility, however, one knows how ridiculous such an idea is. There is nothing more geographically un-centered and dispersed than a spring training facility. It’s a sea of open fields which private citizens generally cannot access and large parking lots. These facilities typically require major arteries, not quaint town streets, for reasonable access. The best any facilities do to integrate with surrounding communities can be seen in Fort Myers with the Twins and in Surprise, Arizona with the Rangers and Royals, where the facilities are part of larger community parks and recreation centers. That’s OK, and certainly better than nothing, but they’re not the anchors of the vibrant live/work/shop developments like the Braves and Sarasota are describing here.

But of course everyone involved has to say that, because selling such facilities as the engine of pie-in-the-sky development is a key part of making the large expenditure of public funds seem more palatable. And yes, there will be a big expenditure of public funds here: the Braves will be getting $56 million in taxpayer subsidies for the new place, some from the state, some from the county. The amount from the county, by the way, is calculated to fall just below the threshold required for a public vote on the expenditure. The Braves have always been blessed with the ability to avoid public votes for their corporate welfare, of course.

One wonders how many other wealthy private businesses owned by multinational corporations get tens of millions in tax dollars to build employee training centers. Not many, I’m sure. The Braves always seem to luck out in this regard, however.