Good riddance to Tal’s Hill

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For the past few years, the Astros have discussed getting rid of Tal’s Hill, that little rise of grass on the warning track in center field. It was supposed to happen last offseason but the Astros’ playoff run went later than the people planning the renovation anticipated (i.e. a postseason run happened at all) but, as we noted recently, it is going forward this offseason.

In fact, this very day the equipment is on the field in Minute Maid Park, getting rid of one of baseball’s weirdest park features:

I’m fine with this. Tal’s Hill was kind of dumb. It was a forced quirk that came at a time when ballpark designers went with faux-retro designs. It seemed fun and unique when first revealed, but it was totally inorganic, like so many other distinctive features of ballparks built in the 1990s and early 2000s were. Pointless overhangs and jutting outfield walls. Friezes. Things that, in old parks, were necessitated by real estate constraints (e.g. Fenway Park has odd dimensions and the Green Monster because they literally did not have the land to build the park in a different way). The new ballpark designers were trying to force history and charm on people from day one. Thus, Tal’s Hill.

We’ve mostly gotten out of that retro-era and form is starting to at least attempt to do a better job of following function. Thank goodness. In that spirit, good riddance, Tal’s Hill. A design feature people liked because the Astros told them it was fun and meaningful, even if there was no purpose for it whatsoever.

The Giants are looking at Jarrod Dyson for center field

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The Giants, you have have heard, picked up Andrew McCutchen yesterday. As things currently stand, McCutchen is first on the depth chart at center field. That’s probably a placeholder situation, though, because (a) McCutchen really shouldn’t be playing center field anymore; and (b) the Giants know he shouldn’t be playing center field anymore. I mean, if an evil genie appeared and told Bruce Bochy he’d be granted any wish he wanted, but the price of it would be that McCutchen HAS to be his center fielder, I’m sure everyone would make do, but it’s not an ideal situation.

To that end, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting that the Giants have free agent Jarrod Dyson in their sights. Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin are considered some backup options.

Dyson is obviously a superior defender, and he has some wheels too. The bat is no great shakes — he’s never been even a league average hitter in terms of OPS+ — but you can put up with the .251/.324/.350 with five homers and 30 RBI he posted in 2017 if you’re getting good leather in the spacious AT&T Park outfield. He’ll steal you some bases too, having swiped 28 in 111 games for the Mariners last season.

The big splash move would be to go get Lorenzo Cain, but that’ll cost the Giants, who are already near the luxury tax threshold, some more money. Dyson may be a better fit in light of that.