And now, my nominee for “ballpark configuration change that no one would have ever noticed even if they had never issued a press release about it:”
The Nationals let media members know a few minutes ago that the ballpark’s capacity this season will be 41,506. That’s down from the 41,888 fans it held at its opening, though the park had been reduced to 41,546 by last season. A Nationals spokesman said in an e-mail the decrease was “due to the removal of a few seats and an adjustment to the suite manifest.”
There was a series with the Red Sox in 2009 during which the Nats drew more than 41,506 for three games. Otherwise, they’ve never drawn more in that joint, not even when the Philly faithful invade.
I don’t know what they’re moving around that’s costing them the seats, but I’ve always thought that teams that don’t draw consistently should mess around a bit to see if there aren’t better things that can be done with the space. The Indians carved out part of their home run deck in left field last year to put a little special seating area for bloggers and social media people. There are probably a bunch of other things that could done.
Here’s a free idea: a couch section. Take a couple of rows that will never be used while a given team fails to draw and replace some seats with a few couches or easy chairs or something. Set up a flat screen TV nearby (these seats are probably far from the action) and institute some special service like trained monkeys bringing beers (like actual monkeys). You and a couple of buddies would pay a couple hundred bucks for that, wouldn’t you? Multiply that out by 81 games, subtract the cost of the couches and the monkeys, and it’s like printing money.
No, I never studied marketing. Why do you ask?
Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.
The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.
Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.