Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals trade Brendan Ryan for young righty Maikel Cleto

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The Cardinals did it.  They got rid of Brendan Ryan.

St. Louis GM John Mozeliak tried to shop the slick-fielding shortstop throughout the Winter Meetings last week and drew only minimal interest, but Mo pulled off a trade today with the Mariners.  This from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

The Cards will get young right-hander Maikel Cleto in return.  He’s a 21-year-old with a fastball that reaches into the high-90s, but he turned in an ugly 6.16 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over 102.1 innings at the Single-A level in 2010.

The kid is a raw talent — not fully developed, but a fine return for Mozeliak and Co.

Ryan is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and should see ample time there for the Mariners in 2011, especially if Jack Wilson’s surgically-repaired right hand continues to be a problem.   The 28-year-old Ryan batted only .223 with a 573 OPS in St. Louis this year and was far from an everyday player by the end of his tenure.  But it was only a season ago that he registered a 740 OPS and a .292 batting average.  While that may have been his peek, who’s to say that he can’t again come close?

The Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers earlier this winter and Mozeliak almost immediately named him the club’s new starting shortstop.  Some viewed that as a conscious move to drive Brendan out of town, or at least make him expendable, but it was mostly about the Cardinals’ desire to add more offense.

Most of of Ryan’s so-called focus issues in St. Louis were overblown.  The Cards simply wanted to upgrade their run production and did exactly that with the Theriot acquisition.  Ryan is generally seen as a good clubhouse guy, he was probably just a little too playful for a club with serious-minded veterans like Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols.  Oh, and a manager like Tony La Russa.  There’s little doubt that he has played a commanding role in all of the Cardinals’ decisions this offseason.

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, $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.

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.