It was nice to see Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young Award today, chiefly because it showed that the Baseball Writers Association of America is past the point where they believe wins to be the ultimate arbiter of which pitchers are good and which are bad. Well, they’ve been past it a while actually, what with Greinke and Lincecum winning it last year, but this year was certainly significant in that they resisted the urge to give the award to someone who had hit the magic number of 20 wins.
But what of other votes and other magic numbers? Such as the Hall of Fame and 300 wins? Will the Hall of Fame voters finally let Bert Blyleven off the hook this winter for “only” getting 287 of them and let him have his plaque? Will they finally let go of the old “Jack Morris won more games in the 1980s” thing and cease his undeserved march towards induction? Will they — like they did with Felix Hernandez — look deeper at what a pitcher actually can control and what actually makes him better and reward it, rather than the wins?
I’m not hopeful. Partially because there is so much more of a time investment and an emotional investment in Hall of Fame voting than in Cy Young voting, and it won’t be easy for the Jon Heymans of the world to reverse themselves from silly positions they’ve taken in the past. It’s a lot easier for someone to have foolishly overlooked Pedro Martinez in a given year and vote for Felix Hernandez this year than it is for them to simply reverse course on Blyleven or Morris when they have a lot of ink invested in arguing against, or for, their induction. In for a penny, in for a pound.
But the biggest reason this won’t change is because we’re talking about different voters for the most part. There are only a couple of dozen of voters for each postseason award, and they tend to be active reporters who are deeply involved in the day-to-day of baseball, including the debates over player value. It’s a smaller but smarter set than the large, bloated Hall of Fame voter pool, many of whom haven’t actively worked in baseball for some time, if they ever did. They’re going to lag, I fear, and lag badly.
So yes, today’s Cy Young vote was nice. But a month or two from now, when we get into Hall of Fame season, look for us to be right back into arguing why wins shouldn’t matter when assessing pitchers, and look for that argument to continue to be largely unheeded.
The Cleveland Indians and outfielder Brandon Guyer avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $5 million 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.
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.