The Phillies outrighted outfielder Tyson Gillies from the 40-man roster earlier today, a formality given the outfielder’s on-the-field struggles. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb put it, however, it was the Phillies conceding another mistake. Gillies will remain in the organization, but the move severely impacts his chances of making the major leagues with the Phillies.
Gillies, 25, was one of the three players GM Ruben Amaro acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with the Seattle Mariners in December 2009. The other two players, Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, have also disappointed, but Gillies is on another level. His baseball-related struggles were obvious. His OPS by year, starting with 2010, went .638, .462, .809, 685, .588. He battled leg injuries that sapped his speed, as he went from 44 stolen bases in 2009 with Single-A High Desert in the Mariners’ system to 31 in his entire time in the Phillies’ system.
Gillies made a habit out of throwing temper tantrums and was memorably involved in last year’s brawl between Team Canada and Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. On June 3, he was reportedly involved in a shouting match with his coaches. A few days prior, he went 0-for-5 and damaged a wall and bat rack outside the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ clubhouse.
As for the other two members of the Lee trade, the Phillies outrighted Ramirez last October. Ramirez then elected free agency and later joined the Indians but he hasn’t done a whole lot for them. Aumont has been a tire fire, allowing two home runs in the only two games he has appeared in the big leagues this season, while walking 22 in 26 1/3 innings at Triple-A with a 4.44 ERA. The Lee trade with the Mariners, one could say, has not worked out well for the Phillies.
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.
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.