The Nationals are trying to keep Phillies fans from filling up their ballpark

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Remember how all those Phillies fans came down to D.C. the past couple of years and basically took over the Nationals’ ballpark during Nats-Phillies series?  Yeah, that was awesome. Especially considering that it was helped out in a major way by the team actively soliciting group sales in the Philadelphia area prior to regular season tickets even going on sale, ensuring that Philly fans had an advantage.

Well, the Nationals have re-thunk that strategy. Here’s Nats’ COO Andy Feffer:

“For several years now, our fans, everybody, have been screaming about the number of Phillies fans that invade our park when we have a series here at Nationals Park,” Feffer said. “Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the Phillies fans in our ballpark in Washington more than anything. We sat down as a group and we said, ‘You know what? It’s time to take our park back in Washington and get our fans in this park.’

The solution: the Nationals have launched what they call the “Take Back the Park” initiative. Beginning Friday, single-game tickets for the May 4-6 Nationals vs. Phillies series are only available to season-ticket holders and fans who reside in Washington, Maryland or Virginia.

Thank goodness such a system cannot be beat. Because, really, no one in Philly knows anyone in those three states who could order tickets for them. Nor can they employ proxies to conceal their IP address when ordering online. That would be unheard of!  I mean, if people could do that, they’d also be able to get past MLB.tv’s blackout policies by tricking ’em into thinking you were logging on from an un-blacked-out area.

Which has never happened ever! Especially during a particular Reds-Braves series last year!

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.