By the end of the season Wrigley Field’s playing surface was a mess thanks in part to all the non-baseball events it hosted and David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com reports that “the decision was made to completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players.”
According to Kaplan the total cost was $400,000 and the new surface is “a new blend of dirt and a Kentucky Bluegrass that was trucked in from Colorado.”
It’s basically the same setup the Cardinals installed recently and the Cubs will try to keep the new surface in decent shape by cutting down on the number of non-baseball events.
I realize $400,000 for some grass sounds like a ton of money, but when a couple hundred million dollars worth of professional athletes play on something in front of 40,000 paying customers 81 times per season it actually seems kind of cheap.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.