Remember the excitement when Camden Yards opened its gates 19 years ago? It was a beautiful baseball cathedral, combining modern day amenities with old-school charm and ushering in a new era in baseball. Goodbye cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadiums. Hello expensive, eye-catching, baseball-only parks. The trend swept through the sport, with the Minnesota Twins being the latest team to join the club.
While Camden Yards certainly maintains its charms, the team has not, and attendance is reflecting that. Despite having some exciting young talent and facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays, another team with plenty of exciting young talent, the Orioles drew only 9,129 customers to Monday night’s game.
It was the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history but at least it had some star power, as it included Olympic hero Michael Phelps (pictured right) and what I can only assume was an extravagant entourage. So they have that going for them, which is nice.
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The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.