Towles likely to get nod behind plate for 'Stros

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That’s the part I agree with.
I’m not sure about the rest of Alyson Footer’s MLBlog entry, in which she looks at the battle between J.R. Towles and top prospect Jason Castro for the catching job in Houston. Footer thinks Towles will be the starter, Humberto Quintero the backup and that Castro will get some Triple-A seasoning after finishing last year in Double-A.
And that’s the way it’s likely to shake out. But Footer’s arguments are pretty weak.

The raw numbers suggest they can’t go wrong with either. Towles has played in nine games and has 12 hits in 27 at-bats for a .444 average. In 10 games, Castro has a .391 average, logging nine hits in 23 at-bats.

Yeah, let’s look at batting averages over the course of 27 at-bats and 23 at-bats in making a judgment. For the record, that’s 50 at-bats between them. In that time, they’ve combined for no homers, four RBI and three walks.

Another issue is roster space. Should he make the team, Castro would first have to be added to the 40-man, which currently stands at 39. That could be problematic, considering the front-runner to win the fifth outfielder position is Cory Sullivan, who would also need to be added to the 40-man. The addition of both Castro and Sullivan would necessitate taking someone off the roster, but if it’s not a dire situation, why do it?

Have you looked at the Astros’ 40-man roster? Outfielder Yordany Ramirez might be the single least promising player on a major league roster today, and it’s incredible that he’s lasted two years now. There’s also a 28-year-old utilityman in Edwin Maysonet, who hasn’t been included in the team’s plans for this year, and a handful of expendable pitchers, with Yorman Bazardo likely topping the list.
Excluding the top 25, the Astros probably have the weakest 40-man roster in the game. The idea that you’d hold Castro back based on the one-percent chance that someone might claim Ramirez on waivers is simply absurd.
Footer, though, also does go into the real reason for the choice; Castro is a 22-year-old who has never set foot in Triple-A, while Towles is 26-year-old with nothing left to prove in the minors. Towles deserves one more chance to show what he can do as a starter. If it doesn’t work out, Castro will still be there on June 1.

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 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.