Some positivity for the non-contenders

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bluejays_090923.jpgIt’s so easy to get down this time of year. The weather is getting chilly, it’s not staying light out as late, and if your team isn’t in playoff contention – and in this dullest of September stretch runs, you pretty much know by now – the final days of the season can be quite a chore.

But it doesn’t have to be, because baseball is all about hope. Hope that a certain veteran might reach the obscure milestone that no one cares about but he. Hope that the late-season call-up will show you some flashes of greatness. Hope that if you’re not going to win this year, there’s always the next.

So to all you fans out there following an also-ran club, this one’s for you. A quick scan around the blogosphere reveals plenty of things for you to be positive about:

— In Milwaukee they may not have the playoffs to look forward to, but they’ll always have beer. And they really, really love their beer. [Miller Park Drunk]

— It’s celebration time in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have just clinched fourth place in the AL East. They should send a thank-you note to the Orioles. [The Tao of Stieb]

— In Chicago, Milton Bradley has apologized for the heap of misery he brought on his team and its fans. So what if the players learned about it by seeing the statement handed out to the media? What do you want from him, people? [Carrie Muskat via Twitter]

— Not sure who out there thinks Zack Greinke doesn’t deserve the Cy Young, but in Kansas City, they’re still stumping hard for him. [Ball Star]

— Rajai Davis has people downright giddy in Oakland. Now if they can just find some power. [Athletics Nation]

— If you can’t win in Cleveland, at least you can dominate the Eastern League. Nothing wrong with that, folks. [Waiting for Next Year]

— In Seattle, they’re marveling at Jose Lopez’s ability to hit at least 25 home runs and walk fewer than 25 times. It’s cool that guys like Joe DiMaggio and Albert Belle are also on the list. Not so cool that Jeff Francoeur and Marcus Thames are also on it. [U.S.S. Mariner]

— In New York, they’re celebrating that the Mets came up short in their quest to break the record for fewest home runs. That’s something, at least. [NYT Bats blog]

— And last but not least, they may not have much of a team in Cincinnati, but when it comes to goggles, no one tops their own Chris Sabo. [OMGReds]

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)
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The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million 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

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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.