Harmon Killebrew

Fun with comps: Evan Gattis is … Harmon Killebrew?

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This was at the end of Ken Rosenthal’s notes column. And it was obviously there for fun so let’s not pretend it’s some serious deal. But still:

And finally, a scout offers this comp for Evan Gattis:

Harmon Killebrew.

I suppose there is something to be said about Gattis’ raw power compared to that of immortal power hitters. The guy can hit the ball a friggin’ mile.  But at the moment, that’s about all he can do, so let’s not go crazy with the comps.

Gattis just turned 27. He has a mere 300 plate appearances under his belt and a .303 on-base percentage. By the end of his age-26 season Killebrew had over 2,700 plate appearances and a line of .257/.367/.532 with 178 homers. And then he got better. Starting in his age-27 season in 1963, Killebrew did not post an OBP below .349 until his age-38 season, coming when he was clearly done as an elite hitter, in 1974. Over those seasons he posted a line of .261/.387/.515. And need I remind you that the bulk of that line came during an era that was the friendliest to pitchers since the Dead Ball Era ended?

Sure, Harmon Killebrew > than Evan Gattis is not exactly a controversial proposition. But then neither is saying that Killebrew is a Gattis comp. That before you realize that the scout who told this to Rosenthal, like everyone else, hasn’t seen the late Killebrew hit for 38 years and hasn’t seen a truly productive Killebrew for 41 years. Thus rendering his expertise as a scout on the matter kinda superfluous.

Comps are fun. But comparing a one-tool backup catcher to one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen is the sort of thing that makes fans angry when that one-tool backup catcher doesn’t become better than he is. And it’s not fair to the one-tool backup catcher.

Jake Peavy is having a bad go of things right now

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 25: Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at AT&T Park on May 25, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.

As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.

Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.

The AT&T Park mortgage is paid off

att park getty
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This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.

The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.

Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.

Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.