Vernon Wells ap

What they’re saying about the Vernon Wells trade

14 Comments

If you woke up this morning confused and disoriented, you aren’t alone. Angels general manager Tony Reagins has felt that way all winter long.

The Angels and Blue Jays announced a blockbuster trade last night that sends Vernon Wells to Los Angeles for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. It’s an absolutely stunning deal that frees the Blue Jays of one of the most obscene contracts in the game.

Let’s take a quick spin around the interwebs to assess the fallout of this mega-deal, starting with the two general managers:

* Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos (as quoted by MLB.com): “The biggest component, I think it goes without saying, was the financial implications. Beyond 2011, the financial flexibility it gives our organization in 2012 and beyond, with where we’re going and as we build this organization, made a lot of sense for us.”

*Angels general manager Tony Reagins (as quoted by MLB.com): “We look at Vernon’s commitment as a four-year commitment that was tolerable for us.”

* Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles: “The most stunning aspect of Friday’s trade was that the Angels got no cash back from Toronto to help pay for what was considered one of the worst contracts in the sport. In the Kazmir trade in August 2009, the Angels got nothing back from Tampa Bay. They’ll owe the left-hander $25.5 million over the next two seasons and he’s coming off a season in which he had a 5.94 ERA.”

* Dustin Parkes of Getting Blanked: “Alex Anthopoulos is probably very busy right now writing thank you cards to Carl Crawford for signing with the Boston Red Sox and Adrian Beltre for signing with the Texas Rangers and Angels fans for putting so much pressure on Tony Reagins to make a move this offseason.”

* David Golebiewski of FanGraphs: “Even if you think Wells will perform considerably better through his age 32-35 seasons that he did in his late twenties and early thirties, and that inflation will be more than five percent per year, it’s near impossible to envision a scenario in which he’s worth his contract. It’s like the Angels paid for a mansion on the beach and got a one-bedroom ranch house in the Rust Belt instead.”

* Lyle Spencer of MLB.com: “Here’s what I like about the Angels’ big deal with Toronto: everything.”

* Cliff Corcoran of SI.com: “If the Angels use Wells and Torii Hunter in the outfield corners with Bobby Abreu as their designated hitter and rookie Peter Bourjos in center, they’ll have an outstanding defensive outfield to play behind a solid starting rotation, but a problematic lineup that will depend heavily on Morales’ successful return and those three former All-Stars whose best days are behind them.”

* Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register:” It is a heavy price and a contract that the Angels won’t be able to move easily when Wells declines. But it makes them more legitimate contenders in the A.L. West than they were Thursday.”

* Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star: “The decision to dump Wells points towards a long-term deal for Bautista, now that Wells’ Delgado-like albatross of a deal is gone from the scene.”

* Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com: “Most teams try to get younger, cheaper and better. The Angels got older, more expensive and possibly worse.”

It’s spring training for groundskeepers too

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-8-57-26-am
Leave a comment

Or, I should say, it’s spring training for whatever automated timer thingie turns the sprinklers on and off.

This was the scene at Goodyear on Saturday as the Indians and Reds played in the bottom of the eighth in their spring training opener. Reds manager Bryan Price says that this was probably the second or third time this has happened in the middle of a game there.

Maybe investigate manually operating that bad boy? Just a suggestion!

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-2-15-25-pm
Craig Calcaterra
12 Comments

MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

tix

 

That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.