Wait, did I say this morning that the acts of Jeff Loria would chasten those sports teams who would dare make noise about their stadiums and stuff? Hahaha, how silly of me. Because down in Atlanta — where the huge story these days is the Falcons wanting a $1 billion new home — someone with the Braves had the guts to squawk about their 16 year-old park. At least its location:
Substantive talks are underway, with the 2016 expiration of the Atlanta Braves’ lease on Turner Field in mind. The Braves have never been entirely happy there.
“As we sit here in 2012, this isn’t where we would have this stadium today,” began Mike Plant, the Braves’ executive vice president of business operations. “I’m not saying it’s a bad place, but it doesn’t match up with where the majority of our fans come from.”
Reality reigns, of course. The Braves know they’re not doing anything about it, so the focus is going to get on with rehabbing the neighborhood in some sort of private-public partnership mish-mash we hear so much about.
All of which puts further lie to the already silly notion that ballparks — hell, in this case, entire Olympic villages — lead to surrounding development. Atlanta has had pushing 20 years to make that happen on that site, and it still hasn’t happened. They built it, and no one came, despite the promises of every single team owner in the history of forever.
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.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.