Cafardo on Sheffield, Lackey, Lowell and more

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sheffield.jpgNick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is back with his latest batch of Hot Stove goodies. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting tidbits:



– Gary Sheffield isn’t done. The 41-year-old slugger wants to return for his 23rd season and he has 3,000 hits on his mind.



“After talking to my wife and kids,” said Sheffield, “they want me to
get 3,000 hits [he’s at 2,689]. I want to keep playing, and I know I
can go out and hit at least 25 and maybe up to 40 home runs for some
team if I get the chance.”




So, Sheffield is currently 311 hits
away from 3,000. If we combine his last three seasons, including a very
productive 2009, Sheffield only has 299. Let’s just say the odds are
stacked heavily against him.




Representing himself, Sheffield
hasn’t heard from any teams just yet, however he said he would be open
to being a designated hitter while playing the field a couple of times
a week. Anybody who watched the Mets last season can’t help but
snicker.




– Cafardo speculates that if the Red
Sox sign John Lackey they could use Clay Buchholz as a chip in a
potential deal for Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera. Under this
scenario, the Red Sox would sign an additional starter like Ben Sheets
as insurance for the rotation. Cafardo quotes an American League
general manager who says Casey Kotchman or Jed Lowrie could be valuable
to other teams in a possible trade this offseason.




– The Red Sox are one of at least a
dozen teams to inquire about reliever Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez, 31, has
had arm and elbow issues in the past, however Boston hasn’t examined
his medical records as of yet.




– Mike Lowell could be asked to play
some first base if his hip doesn’t improve enough to play third base
regularly. According to Cafardo, the idea has been discussed internally.




– J.D. Drew underwent surgery on his
left shoulder last week to repair inflammation he suffered with during
the second half of the season. According to Cafardo, he should be ready
for the start of spring training.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.