Alexi Casilla

The Orioles want Alexi Casilla to give up switch-hitting

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Infielder Alexi Casilla is hitting .200/.222/.257 in 35 at-bats for the Orioles this season after coming in at .241/.282/.321 in 299 at-bats for the Twins last year. Hence, the Orioles think it’s time for him to try something new. In this case, they believe the natural right-handed hitter should give up switch-hitting.

The interesting thing about this is that Casilla doesn’t have pronounced splits. In fact, he has a higher OPS as a left-handed hitter in his career:

As a left-handed hitter: .246/.307/.339, 9 HR, 98 RBI in 1,094 at-bats
As a right-handed hitter: .258/.297/.322. 2 HR, 49 RBI in 516 at-bats

(That doesn’t count his five at-bats as a right-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers. I’m assuming those came versus knuckleballers.)

The Orioles, though, have declined to use Casilla against right-handers this season, even with Brian Roberts out and Ryan Flaherty struggling mightily as a replacement second baseman. Casilla has started 10 games, nine of which have come versus left-handers.

According to MASN”s Roch Kubatko, Casilla is going along with the idea. He intends to bat left-handed against righties for now, but he’s been taking batting practice right-handed against righties and it sounds like he’ll do it in games once he’s more comfortable.

Perhaps the Orioles’ hope is that Casilla, instead of trying to stay sharp from both sides of the plate and splitting his focus, will improve if he concentrates solely on hitting right-handed. It probably can’t hurt, since Casilla is very much in danger of getting bumped from the major leagues the way things are going now.

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.