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Ferguson: Braves looking at a new stadium already

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Scott Ferguson
11/11/2013 1:34:00 PM
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The Rogers Centre was an incredible facility when it was built and then unveiled in June of 1989. But as the years have gone by, fans look on with envy at the state-of-the-art baseball-only facilities that have been constructed and wonder, why couldn't it have been us?

Now comes word the Atlanta Braves are ready to leave Turner Field, their home since 1997, to move into a spanking new $672 million ediface in Cobb County in time for the 2017 season, although no official contract has been signed yet.
 
The Braves owners couldn't come to a new lease agreement to stay at Turner Field so now, with the help of the good taxpayers, Cobb County will get a new 42,000-seat ballpark with all of the amenities.
 
The Braves have only been in Atlanta since 1966. They have played 48 seasons there and overall have been a success story. TBS helped make them Americas's team and they had a run over 14 straight years in the post-season (albeit with only one World Series victory).
 
Their attendance has been good, but never spectacular. Going back to 2006, the lowest they've drawn is 2.37 million in 2009 and 2011. They peaked at 2.75 million in 2007 over that eight-year span. This past season, they drew 2.55 million, virtually the same as the Blue Jays.
 
I guess what I'm saying is, there doesn't really seem to be the need for a new baseball stadium in the greater Atlanta area. If this new one is indeed ready by 2017, the Braves will have played in three stadia in 52 years in the same city.
 
If they can do it, and the taxpayers can live with it, more power to them. The Blue Jays are coming up to their 25th full season at Rogers Centre. There is no new home in the forseeable future for the Jays, just natural grass by 2018 or so.
 
It would be great to see the Blue Jays have the kind of ballpark they have in Pittsburgh, San Francisco or Baltimore. But to see Atlanta leaving a facility that was constructed for the 1996 Olympics after just 20 seasons just seems so wrong.

Trade Rumours
 
There used to be a time when there seemed to be lull after the World Series until the Winter Meetings in December but no more. With the General Managers' Meetings starting Monday in Orlando, baseball talk will be at a fever pitch with free agent signings being negotiated and the groundwork being laid for trades.

The Blue Jays top priority is at least one, if not two, starting pitchers, who would fit in as 1-2 or 3's. They also need an upgrade behind the plate and help at second base.

There was another interesting rumour that surfaced over the weekend with Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggesting the Dodgers were trying to move one of their high-priced outfielders, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and/or Carl Crawford. Cafardo claimed the Blue Jays were at least exploring the possibility of landing one of the three over concerns that Melky Cabrera would never be the player they thought when they signed him to that two-year deal last year.

Though they seemed to have an endless supply of money, the Dodgers apparently want to deal one of these monster contracts to free up the cash to lock up Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez. It doesn't make any real sense for the Blue Jays to be chasing any of those three, considering the size and duration of their contracts and the health issues of all three over the past couple of seasons.

Time Flies
 
Here is an odd coincidence I dug up this week. In their first season, veteran Bill Singer was a highly touted righthander who was expected to lead the expansion staff. Thanks in large part to arm troubles that ultimately ended his career after 1977, Singer went 2-8 with a 6.79 ERA. This past season, the Blue Jays aquired Josh Johnson to be a top-end starter and possible ace. Again thanks to a myriad of physical troubles, Johnson wound up with a record of, you guessed it, 2-8 and a 6.20 ERA. The difference is, Johnson still might be able to land a one-year deal worth $8-10 million on the open market this off-season.
 
I was wondering the other day if we had officially closed the book on the 20th century. That is to say, are there any former Blue Jays still active from the 1999 team? It turns out there are two: Harry Leroy (Roy) Halladay the III and Vernon Michael Wells the III. Halladay was in his first full season with the Jays in 1999, going 8-7 with a 3.92 earned run average. Wells was making his rookie debut in 1999, hit his first Major League homer and knocked in eight runs in 88 at bats.

Halladay is a free agent now. He was born May 14th, 1977. On that day the Blue Jays got drilled 13-3 by the Twins at old Metropolitan Stadium.

Wells is going into the final year of his contract with the Yankees at $21 million, the bulk of which is still being paid by the Angels.

Incidentally, the highest paid Blue Jay in 1999 was current Jays coach Pat Hentgen at $8.6 million. And Shawn Green, who turned 41 on Sunday, was part of that team. How time flies and the times change.

Turner Field  (Photo: Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)
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