A couple of years ago there was a thing where Phillies fans would descend on Washington and buy up all the Nats-Phillies tickets for games played at Nats Park. Citizens Bank Park was always sold out. No one went to Nats games. The cities are relatively close. It made a lot of sense that Phillies fans would do that. Even if it really ticked off Nationals fans who hated to have their park invaded by outsiders. It became such a thing that they invented “Nattitude” as a counter-marketing effort. Really, all of that sprung from Phillies fans taking over and the Nats trying to take their park back.
A couple of disappointing seasons for the Phillies later and it’s a totally different deal. The Nationals are in Philly this weekend. The weather forecast looks grand. Cliff Lee is on the mound. And the Phillies are offering discounted tickets in earnest. Crossing Broad says it’s a buy-one-get-one-free sale. The Good Phight says it’s more of a 50% off deal of select seats, but notes that it is a pretty early promotion suggesting sluggish ticket sales.
Which, hey, it happens. As all of you are quick to point out every time some NL East thing comes up, the Braves don’t do all that well at the gate so they’ve probably been discounting tickets since the second game of the season. That’s undeniably true.
But Braves fans have never claimed fan intensity, passion and support as some singularly awesome trait they possess like Phillies fans have over the past few years. The thing that set them apart and made them better than any other fans. The abject rejection of the notion that, as is the case with most teams, winning teams draw and losing teams don’t and that, rather, it’s a function of their exceptional enthusiasm for their team. Now they’re discounting what should be a pretty hot ticket, relatively speaking. Like any other mediocre team does.
Here’s hoping a bunch of Nats fans get on a bus and make it Nats Park North. That’d be cool. And next year we’d get self-helpy-sounding promotions like “Phillatude” or whatever.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that free agent reliever Joe Nathan, recovering from Tommy John surgery, plans to pitch in 2016 according to his agent Dave Pepe. According to Pepe, Nathan’s workouts are “going well” and the right-hander is “definitely planning on playing this year.”
Nathan, 41, got the final out on Opening Day (April 6) against the Twins before going on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow, causing him to miss the next 161 games. He will likely be able to contribute out of the bullpen in late May or early June if he has no setbacks. On a minor league deal or incentive-laden major league deal, Nathan could make for a low-risk gamble.
Over a 15-season career that dates back to 1999 (he did not pitch in the majors in 2001 or 2010), Nathan has 377 saves with a 2.89 ERA and a 967/340 K/BB ratio over 917 innings.
On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.