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Rangers’ new ballpark will have have artificial turf

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The Texas Rangers have announced that they will use artificial turf rather than grass in their new retractable-roof stadium that opens in 2020.

That will make the Rangers the fourth team to use fake grass after the Blue Jays, Rays and, most recently, the Diamondbacks, who are switching from real grass this offseason. At the peak of the plastic grass era, a high of 10 stadiums had artificial surfaces, both from 1977-78 and again from 1982-94. There have not been as many as four ballparks with artificial turf since 2004, when the Montreal Expos left Olympic Stadium for Washington, D.C. A traditionalist might observe that we’re going in the wrong direction.

Not that the debate is as clear cut as it was a few years ago.

The Rangers said in their announcement that the decision was made after almost two years of research regarding player safety, team performance and fan experience. You have to assume cost is a factor too. As we noted when the Dbacks made the switch, water costs are a big thing with grass. And energy costs too, given that you have to have the roof open to get sunlight to the grass during the day. The cost of having to re-cool the stadium after closing the roof before game time in the hottest of summer months is pretty high. Overall, it’s probably more economical and ecologically-friendly to have fake turf. Assuming, of course, it’s not made out of, I dunno, radioactive waste or blue whale carcasses or something.

The long-time knocks on artificial turf, of course, were that it (a) was hard on players’ knees — ask Andre Dawson how he liked it — (b) the high bounces of choppers and grounders; (c) the heat it created; and, of course (d) the whole aesthetic experience. Much of that, we were told when the Dbacks made their announcement, will not be an issue with the latest generation of turf. It’s supposedly easier on players’ joints and gives truer bounces. if you have a full-dirt infield it looks better and, as we have seen as the turf in Tropicana Field and Rogers Centre has evolved over the years, it has gotten better in the looks department. Heat won’t be an issue as these are coming online in domed stadiums. No more of those Riverfront/Busch Stadium day game roasts like we’d see back in the 80s.

Only time will tell, I suppose. The look upon unveiling and what players think of it will be the determining factor as to whether this is ultimately a good move or a bad move.

What say you, people?

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.