How about this: Damon and the Reds

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In light of this morning’s news, that moderately panicked sound you hear is Scott Boras working the phones, desperately trying to find someone that will pay Johnny Damon $2,000,001, thereby saying Boras the indignity of being totally, completely, utterly and publicly pwned by the Yankees.  Two candidates: The Reds and Tigers, according to Jerry Crasnick.

The Tigers laughed out loud when Heyman and Boras tried to prop them up as a stalking horse earlier this month. They don’t want any part of him.  But what about the Reds?

On paper it makes some sense. Cincinnati is stuck with, what, Chris Dickerson as their left fielder? And as was the case in Yankee Stadium, the cozy dimensions of Great American Ballpark may play to Mr. Damon’s strengths.

But can the Reds afford it?  They had to have Scott Rolen rejigger his contract in order to make 2010 work already, and that was before they added the Aroldis Chapman dollars.  What’s more, I don’t think Walt Jocketty is deluded about his club’s chance to compete this year (i.e. they don’t have much of one).  Adding Damon may clearly separate the Reds from the Pirates and rocket them past the Astros, but isn’t that fourth place really the top end here? I’ll even go with third if the Cubs or Brewers run into some bad luck, but I think we can all agree that even with Damon, the Reds aren’t going to be knocking on the door of the playoffs.  This is a team that is building to compete in 2011 or 2012, so why throw the money away on Damon now?

At any rate, Damon texted Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger the other day and told him that he’d have a team by Saturday. It’s Wednesday afternoon. Either Scott had better start dialing faster or else there’s going to be a news conference early next week in which the Yankees re-introduce their supremely humbled bargain basement outfielder.

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.