Doug Fister

Tigers may be underwhelmed by Doug Fister, David Pauley

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The Tigers tried this on deadline day two years ago when they sent two youngsters to Seattle for Jarrod Washburn.  At the time, Washburn had a 2.64 ERA and a 79/33 K/BB ratio in 133 innings for the Mariners.

As it turned out, Washburn was a major bust in Detroit, going 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in eight starts.  Knee problems had something to do with his struggles, but exiting Safeco Field also played a big role.

Now the Tigers are hoping a pitcher with a 3.33 ERA and a 89/32 K/BB ratio in 146 innings for Seattle can make a difference for them.  They sent left-hander Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, third baseman Francisco Martinez and a player to be named to the Mariners for right-handers Doug Fister and David Pauley on Saturday.

It wasn’t necessarily a huge price to pay.  And, for what it’s worth, neither of the prospects the Tigers gave up two years ago, left-handers Luke French and Mauricio Robles, have helped Seattle a bit.

Furbush, 25, will be looked at as the key piece for Seattle.  The 2007 fourth-round pick made his major league debut earlier this season and did an excellent job out of the pen before flopping in a pair of starts.  He throws in the low-90s and has a nice curve.  He’s probably a long-term fourth or fifth starter, but Seattle could make him look better than that.

Wells, 26, wasn’t getting a chance to be more than a bit player in Detroit, but he had a fine .286/.341/.490 line in 206 at-bats since arriving last year.  He probably won’t be good enough against right-handers to cut it as a full-timer, but he makes for an excellent fourth outfielder and the Mariners should give him quite a bit of time in left field right away.

Martinez is a wild card.  The 20-year-old just played for the World squad in the Futures Game a couple of weeks ago, but he’s a career .277/.329/.361 hitter with 13 homers in 1,108 minor league at-bats.  His stock is definitely up this year, as he’s more than held his own by hitting .282/.319/.405 as one of the youngest position players in Double-A.  However, his plate disclipline leaves much to be desired.

The Tigers are banking on Fister and Pauley upgrading a Tigers pitching staff that ranks 11th in the AL in ERA.  And they probably will.  The Tigers had gotten a terrible run of outings from their fifth starters since Phil Coke got hurt in late May.  Fister owes a lot to Safeco Field and Franklin Gutierrez, but he did have a 3.71 ERA in 10 road starts this season.  For his career, he had a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts away outside of Seattle.

I doubt Fister will post a sub-4.00 ERA as a Tiger, but if he can just go out there and give up three runs over six innings, then he’ll be doing his job.

Pauley isn’t likely to be much of an asset.  The journeyman right-hander had an awesome run at the beginning of the season, allowing three runs in 32 1/3 innings through the end of May.   However, he has a 4.09 ERA and a 14/11 K/BB ratio in 22 innings since.  He also had a 0.67 ERA at Safeco for the season, compared to a 3.62 ERA elsewhere.  He may work as an innings-eating middle reliever for the Tigers, but he shouldn’t be entrusted with late leads.

It is worth noting here that the trade wasn’t made with only 2011 in mind.  Fister isn’t even eligible for arbitration until after next year, and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season.  Pauley, likewise, will make barely more than the minimum next season.

And that drove up the price for the Tigers.  Still, the team was able to keep Andy Oliver out of the deal and give up Furbush instead.  I think Oliver is the better of the two young lefties, and I’m surprised the Mariners didn’t insist on him.

So, it looks to me to be a decent trade for both sides.  The Tigers didn’t get a real difference maker, but they also probably didn’t part with one.  Detroit added some stability, and the Mariners won out on talent.  Furbush could approximate Fister’s results next year, Wells will be a fine role player and Martinez has some chance of becoming a long-term major league third baseman.

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 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.