Rockies wrong to commit to second baseman Barmes

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barmes.jpgFrom the Denver Post’s Troy Renck comes the news that the Rockies are looking to sign starting second baseman Clint Barmes to a two-year deal with an option for 2012 that would buy out his first year of free agency.
On the surface, it might not seem like a bad idea at all. Having received 500 at-bats for the first time in his career, Barmes delivered 23 homers and 76 RBI last season. He’s also, without a doubt, one of the game’s best defensive second baseman. Furthermore, he won’t be particularly expensive. Barmes made $1.6 million in his first season of arbitration. He’s set for a nice raise after putting up such fine power numbers, probably to $3.5 million or so. Another year as a starter would get him up to about $5 million, so the Rockies could potentially save themselves some money if they could sign him for about $7.5 million.
Or they could save themselves far more by trading him and turning second base over to Eric Young Jr.
Barmes’ ample power production last season was a nice surprise, but it came with a .245 average and a dreadful .294 OBP. He had a 121/31 K/BB ratio in 550 at-bats. His career OBP is .299. He’s also a poor basestealer, getting thrown out on 10 of his 22 attempts last season.
Barmes has also been a huge offensive liability outside of Coors Field throughout his career. A big flyball hitter, he’s taken huge advantage of baseball’s most spacious outfield to hit .294/.336/.479 at home in his career. On the road, though, he falls all of the way to .222/.262/.351. Last year, he came in at .207/.251/.380 outside of Coors Field.
To put that in perspective, Neifi Perez was a career .267/.297/.375 hitter.
Young is about as different from Barmes as a second baseman can be. He doesn’t have any power, but he’s turned into a legitimate top-of-the-order threat, which is something the Rockies clearly need. The second-generation major leaguer hit .299/.387/.430 with 58 steals in 72 attempts for Triple-A Colorado Springs last season.
That’s not to say he’s a sure thing. He was less successful in 57 major league at-bats, coming in at .246/.295/.316. Also, for all of his speed, he’s a lesser defender than Barmes. He’s made a ton of progress these last two years, but he still might fit best as a major league utilityman.
For that reason, I’d support the idea of the Rockies keeping Barmes around for another year, but it should be with the thought that Young could overtake him and push him into a reserve role at some point. There’s no good reason to commit to Barmes for 2011 just yet. He’s turning 31 in March, and it’s entirely possible that 2008 and ’09 will go down as his best years as a major leaguer.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.