Portland hosts its last AAA game

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The Beavers haven’t always played baseball in Portland. Minor league baseball took a few years off in the 70s. The team that came back in 1978 later moved to Salt Lake City, occasioning another break in AAA ball before the latest incarnation showed up.  But those few bumps aside, there has been a Pacific Coast League edition of the Portland Beavers since 1903.

Not anymore, though, as the latest edition played its last game last night. The Beavers are losing their ballpark to Major League Soccer next season and will have to find a new home. Tucson is a possibility. So is Lake Elsinore, California. All we know for sure is that the Padres’ AAA team won’t be in Portland next season.

My first thought is to be irked by the fact that someone, somewhere thought that MLS was a better bet for Portland than baseball. My second thought is to scoff at anyone who brings up Portland as a possible landing spot for a relocating Major League Baseball team.  Both thoughts are all about emotion, not reason, however, because this move has very little to do with how much Portland loves baseball and everything to do with economics.

Sure, it would be great if Portland had found room for both the Beavers and the new MLS team, but stadium politics in Oregon have always been dicey, rendering this an either/or situation. Given the league’s relatively low overhead and straight revenue split, a Major League Soccer franchise can be pretty damn lucrative these days. If you had the choice between keeping a minor league baseball team in your park or, alternatively, kicking them out, renovating the place for soccer and getting an MLS team you’d do the latter every time. At least if you were interested in making money. That was Portland’s choice.

The prospect of a major league team would likely change the economics of it all. No, it would not likely be easier to get public money to build a ballpark for, say, the A’s or the Rays or someone that it would have been for the Beavers, but there’s way more money to be made in Major League Baseball than there is in AAA too, so it could probably inspire more private money (assuming Bud Selig and the Lords of Baseball drop their aversion to owner-financed stadiums).  The upshot: the Beavers fleeing has very little to do with Portland’s suitability as a major league city. It’s benefits and flaws remain much the same as they’ve always been.

But yeah, it does suck that there’s no baseball in Portland anymore. Because baseball is, you know, cool.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).

 

Corey Seager has more homers than any other shortstop in Los Angeles Dodgers history

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Corey Sager homered in the Dodgers’ win over the White Sox last night. It was his 45th career homer, 44 of which have come while playing shortstop. While that’s great given that the guy has only played in 270 games, it’s not a lot of homers in an absolute sense. Thousands of players have more homers than that, obviously. Baseball has been around for a long time!

But it’s enough to set a record. A Los Angeles Dodgers record, specifically, for the most homers from a shortstop. It puts Seager past Rafael Furcal, who hit 43 while wearing Dodger blue. The record for the franchise, including Brooklyn, is Pee Wee Reese, who hit 122.

It seems astounding that no other Dodgers shortstop has hit more than 44 homers in the nearly 60 years since the club has been in Los Angeles, but it’s true. If you had asked me before I saw the factoid mentioned on Twitter I would’ve bet my life that Bill Russell would’ve had more. Not because he had any power — he was, in fact, one of the more punchless players of his era — but because he simply played in L.A. so long, logging 1,746 games at short for Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda. Nope. He only hit 46 in his 18-year career, with a handful of those coming as an outfielder. His season high is seven. Seager has hit seven homers in May of his rookie season.

Oh well, you learn something new every day.