With the caveat that early architectural renderings rarely if ever give us a great sense of what the final product will actually look like and feel like — and with the caveat that the vagueness of early renderings often gives the place an overly-idealized version of the final product — the Atlanta Journal Constitution gives us early architectural renderings of the new Braves park:
More pics here.
Kudos for what appears to be greater shade/sun-protection measures in those big panels up top. Demerits for what appears to be four or five distinct decks. The Braves are saying the park will hold only 41,500 people which is not crazy, but it does seem a tad overbuilt. If the idea is to have fewer rows in each section, OK, but in the post-pillar age, every row up means going back a little bit, so I wonder how groundbreaking this really is. I guess we won’t know until we can sit in the actual seats up high.
My bigger observation is that t just looks kinda generic. Is there new room for something — anything — that looks architecturally inspired as opposed to merely functional? The Braves are owned by a big corporation and these renderings look like the profit of a bunch of meetings in which everyone fought hard not to offend anyone else. Nothing is going to please everyone, but something bold would be neat. Not that Braves have ever gone for anything particularly bold.
Obviously things could change, but this is sorta underwhelming, even if it’ll almost certainly be a fine place to watch a ballgame.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.