Impatient Ned Colletti flushes at least $2 million down the toilet

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A 29-year-old Jonny Gomes was a free agent two winters ago after hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 homers and 51 RBI in 281 at-bats for the Reds. He re-signed with the Reds for $800,000.

A 33-year-old Andruw Jones was a free agent last winter after hitting .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers and 48 RBI in 278 at-bats for the White Sox. He signed with the Yankees for $2 million.

A 34-year-old Marcus Thames was a free agent last winter after hitting .288/.350/.491 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in 212 at-bats with the Yankees. He signed for the Dodgers for $1 million.

A 34-year-old Pat Burrell was a free agent last winter after hitting .252/.348/.469 with 20 homers and 64 RBI in 373 at-bats with the Rays and Giants. He re-signed with the Giants for $1 million.

A 33-year-old Juan Rivera was a free agent this winter after hitting .258/.319/.382 with 11 homers and 74 RBI in 466 at-bats for the Blue Jays and Dodgers. He re-signed with the Dodgers for $4.5 million.

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Dodgers GM Ned Colletti simply couldn’t wait to lock up Rivera this winter, clearly overpaying him in order to do so.

I’d put Rivera’s free agent credentials ahead of those of Thames and Burrell, but I’d say he’s a worse bet than Gomes was two years ago or Jones was last year. Rivera also disappointed in 2010, coming in at .252/.312/.409. He’s now three years removed from his last quality season, he hasn’t had an OPS better than .730 against righties since 2006 and he’s a below average defender in left field. He has his uses as a guy who can smack left-handers around and not embarrass himself against righties, but that kind of player isn’t hard to find and the going rate is $2 million or less. If the Dodgers had waited, they almost certainly would have been able to sign him for less.

Consider the Concrete Donut

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Ben Schulman wrote a long, interesting article about stadium architecture over at The Hardball Times today. He asks us to consider the old concrete donut stadiums — multipurpose parks like Three Rivers and The Vet — and to think about what we have gained by their near-extinction. And what we’ve lost.

The article starts out with what I feared would be too much misplaced nostalgia for the Brutalist, functional places that no longer exist outside of Oakland, with the now de rigueur references to astroturf and weird 1970s baseball. It backs away from that early on, though, and presents what I feel is a thoughtful look at the various approaches to building a ballpark. Stadium geeks and architecture geeks will find much to love here.

From a personal perspective, I have a love/hate relationship with newer parks. I spent a good deal of time going to places like Riverfront Stadium when I was a kid and do not miss them at all. But I also think there have been a lot of missteps in the last 25 years or so too.

Most new parks are pleasant and comfortable places to take in a ballgame, but so many of them are totally unimaginative and uninspiring from an architectural point of view. I am not fan of nostalgia, and so many of them — particularly the ones built in the 90s — were fueled by a great deal of misguided retro-ism that looks backwards. I suspect this is the case because either (a) no one had the guts or vision to look forward; and/or (b) they felt they could make easier bucks by catering to people who think everything went to hell once Eisenhower left office than by doing something bold. To be fair, there are examples of newer parks that eschew the faux old-timey vibe to greater degrees — Target Field in Minneapolis and Marlins Park in Miami come to mind — and I tend to prefer those to more backward-looking places. Again, architecturally speaking.

I think the sweet spot — and the linked article touches on this a bit — are ballparks which think bigger than the bland and dreary functionalism of the 1960s and 70s but which eschew derivative, traditionalist approaches. Parks which were built with then-modern sensibilities and saw their vision through without compromise. Dodger Stadium is a fine, modernist example of this. So too is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, about which I wrote a few years ago. They had a great opportunity to do this in Chicago in the late 80s but muffed it. I think Marlins Park could fall into that category if (a) there is ever anything approaching memorable baseball there; and (b) if they stop being afraid of its bold aspects and stop trying to turn it into a vanilla monument to its vanilla owner. The common denominator, I suppose, is that these parks weren’t and aren’t trying to cater to the childhoods of local fans.

Anyway, good read on a slow news day.