Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Notes, quotes and comment

The news Monday that Joe Mauer will no longer catch was, deservedly, the big deal in Twins Territory — arguably a more significant announcement than the retention of Ron Gardenhire as manager. But there were other news items worthy of attention.

* The Twins signed former shortstop Jason Bartlett to a minor league contract and suggested he would have the opportunity to reclaim the shortstop position he vacated when traded after the 2007 season.

Really? Bartlett? Seriously? I don't buy it.

General manager Terry Ryan said Monday that incumbent shortstop Pedro Florimon is not a lock to keep the job. And he shouldn't be; Florimon fielded well, but he didn't hit. The Twins should be open to alternatives.

Bartlett isn't a realistic one. He's 34; he hasn't played since May of 2012, when the Padres cut him loose; his numbers were in decline before the knee injury he blames for his release; the Twins haven't even bothered to scout his workouts.

The Twins aren't risking anything on this minor league deal. I don't think there's any gain in it either.

The Atlanta Braves plan to desert Turner Field after just
20 years in the former Olympic Stadium.
* The Atlanta Braves announced plans to move from Turner Field once their lease is expired to a new stadium to be built in suburban Cobb County.

This is odd on a number of levels. Turner Field is just 17 years old, for one thing; for another, the Braves are bucking the overall movement of teams closer to the city center. A piece of civic infrastructure that cost hundreds of millions to construct is now to be discarded as if it were a fast-food outlet.

I've never been to Atlanta, so my knowledge of Turner Field (and its predecessor, the cookie-cutter Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium) is second hand. Turner, of course, was originally the Olympic Stadium for the 1996 games, designed to be retrofitted for baseball. I assume that it is miles ahead of the old concrete doughnut as a place to watch baseball but a step or two short of the likes of the baseball cathedrals in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and (yes) Minneapolis.

But this isn't about aesthetics. It's about a complex and unsavory melange of greed, demographics (racial and socioeconomic), dysfunctional urban planning, absentee ownership, corporate miscues and, worthy of additional emphasis, greed.

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