Shoulda sold high.
The Braves demoted Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett last night after he gave up five runs on nine hits in three innings to the Dodgers. It was the worst in a series of bad starts to kick off the season for Jurrjens, who now stands with a 9.37 ERA and has given up 30 hits and has walked ten in 16.1 innings.
While he has been effective — sometimes quite effective — at times over the past couple of years, Jurrjens has always lived on the edge due to a low strikeout rate. This, combined with wear and tear of a couple of injury-marred seasons and overall workload is likely catching up with him. The Braves probably realized this at some point in the past year, as there have been frequent rumors that they were shopping him.
Now, however, he’s pretty unshoppable. The best they can hope for is that he turns it around in Gwinnett enough to where it makes sense to showcase him for a trade again. That is, if he gets the chance. Tim Hudson is going to be activated soon and will fall into a rotation that doesn’t have much room for Jurrjens. So it could be a while before we see him again.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”