Field of Schemes’ Neil deMause — writing today for Sports on Earth — makes a great point in his column about the Braves new stadium today. It’s a boon for the owners of other teams looking to shake down their cities for upgrades, concessions, and lease improvements:
Ever since the Montreal Expos occupied Washington, D.C., in 2005, MLB teams have lacked a big, empty market to frighten local officials with, as the NFL has successfully done with Los Angeles . . . Now, though, teams can gesture vaguely in the direction of Atlanta, or just show up to lease talks carrying one of those foam tomahawks, and everyone will get the message: Make us happy or we’ll split for the suburbs.
Most teams have new stadiums now, and it was unthinkable that anyone would leave a new stadium as recently as Monday morning. Now it’s not. Someone has shown a willingness to abandon one. Don’t think for a second that, when it comes time for other teams to get stuff from their home cities, they won’t make subtle or not-so-subtle references to the Atlanta move as a means of gaining leverage.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.