While sitting in a Toronto conference room learning which NHL GM has the most disdain for advanced stats (it’s a tie for first), a whole lot of baseball news broke out, to my chagrin. Pack up the moving trucks, two significant baseball properties are on the move!
The Barves White Flight
The Braves are ditching Atlanta for the comfy confines of Cobb County, receiving government funds to build a new stadium at the nexus of several interstate highways. Turner Field is barely 20 years old today and yet the Barves are making tracks for the Burbs.
— katie (@ktlanta) November 11, 2013
Ken Rosenthal suggests that the Braves current TV deal is so bad, this move might actually give save Atlanta as they operate under such tight budgets as a result of said deal.
Unfortunately, Rosenthal regurgitates the team’s company line regarding expensive upgrades due to Turner Field and the “problematic” nature of the downtown ballpark for many suburban fans. Which is another way of saying it stays whiter in Cobb County much later than just off the MARTA.
After a generation of ballparks built as close to corporate sponsors in downtown locations, might this spur a trend back towards sprawling parking lots and enormous facilities perched on the outskirts of civilization. Hopefully not. The only saving grace of a move to the suburbs is the real estate ends up costing much less, a nice savings for the fans and taxpayers who eventually pay for it in the end.
Joe Mauer Seeks Higher Ground
The Barves aren’t the only American Institution making tracks for greener pastures, as the Twins dramatically announced yesterday that Joe Mauer would begin transitioning to first base in 2014.
In the rush to judgement that is internet life, I feel like the “transitioning” part of their statement was overlooked. Perhaps Mauer will still catch some games in 2014 but, yes, he’s time as a full-time catcher appears over.
Many wonder about the viability of Mauer as a first baseman, given his relative status as a banjo hitter when compared to many first base behemoths. And to those people I say: c’mon, man. Really?
Joe Mauer is one of the finest hitting catchers the game has ever known and one of the best hitters in baseball. Over the last two seasons, his linear weights derived wRC+ ranks 12th among qualified hitters. Not catchers, not first baseman – hitters. That’s higher than Prince Fielder, higher than Paul Goldschmidt, higher than Freddie Freeman and Allen Craig and barely behind Chris Davis.
There is more than one way to skin a cat. Joe Mauer might not bludgeon the cat but he skins it slowly, methodically – the cats ends up dead either way. (Please note: All American Hero Joe Mauer is very kind to cats and babies and flies 2.4 flags over his proud Minnesotan home at all times. Save your cards and letters, please.)
Anything the Minnesota Twins can do to protect their franchise player form the ravages of concussions and wear and tear behind the plate, they should do. Anything the Twins can do to extend his window as one of baseball’s finest players is in their best interests to explore. Considering the army of minor league talent currently marching through the Twins system, having a healthy and productive Joe Mauer ready to greet them upon arrival in the big leagues is just a good idea.
He might help the team more as a catcher but this move helps the franchise recoup their sizable investment over the long haul in addition to sparing Mauer’s long term health. Heck, away from the rigors of catching, his numbers and power might actually improve! An unpopular sacrifice but easy decision to make for those in the know within the Twins organization.