Or is it HoHoKam Stadium? And is that capitalization correct? Really, I can’t tell you because I’ve seen it written differently in different places. I think “Stadium” is correct but Park rolls off the tongue better. Probably doesn’t matter considering that they’re building a new place a couple miles from here and will thus be leaving the joint soon.
I’ve only been here in Mesa for an hour or so, but there’s quite a different vibe to the place than the others I’ve visited. Right off the exit there’s a huge trailer park advertising seasonal rentals for Cubs fans. At a gas station down the road there were lots of folks wearing Cubs caps, over five hours before game time. Mesa is a big sprawling suburb, but it’s a lot like how things felt in Port St. Lucie with the Mets last year: everyone seems like they’re here for the Cubs.
But with that kind of devotion comes some of the minor hassles that, while common in Florida, aren’t all that common in Arizona. Unlike everyplace else I’ve been so far this spring, there were attendants working the parking lot as early as 8AM, making sure I was where I was supposed to be and pointing me toward a media lot. Likewise, this is the first time that anyone actually checked my credentials at the main gate to the park. Sure, the other places have people giving your badge a glance as you walk by, especially after fans start showing up, but this is the first place that someone seated at a desk gave them any scrutiny at all. It was polite scrutiny and I wasn’t held up, but one certainly gets the sense that the Cubs are more vigilant against would-be gate-crashers.
And speaking of crashing a gate, I think I’ll go wander around a bit and see if I can’t get in some trouble. I’m guessing it will be way easier to do here than the other places I’ve been.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.