Earlier this offseason, the Giants were said to be underway on a few structural changes to Oracle Park, including a plan to shift team and visiting bullpens from along the baselines to beyond the outfield fence in center field. Today’s report from Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports brings a few more details on that planned renovation, complete with photos snagged during a recent offseason event at Oracle (link).
It may be interesting to consider how these changes may affect the performance of the club’s on-field personnel. Oracle has long been known to be one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the bigs, owing to both the dense air surrounding San Francisco Bay and the park’s infamous “Triples Alley” chasm in right-center field. According to Pavlovic’s report, the deepest part of this “Triples Alley” area will be moved from 421 feet to approximately 410 feet as a result of the current offseason’s changes. This adjustment could be a huge aid to first baseman Brandon Belt, who has logged 32 triples since entering the league in 2011–far and away tops among major league first baggers (presumably, Belt wouldn’t have minded a few of those triples clearing his home park’s fence). Whether club pitchers will be as happy with the reconstruction is an altogether different question.
More notes from around the game on a quiet Saturday eve…
- New Giants manager Gabe Kapler was often the subject of intense personal scrutiny during his time as manager of the Phillies, and, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tells it, Kapler is still an individual who cuts a unique profile within league circles (link). In a wide-ranging personal interest piece, Slusser references one MLB coach’s description of Kapler as “condescending” and one staff member’s description of Kapler as a “bully”; meanwhile, other league figures are quoted in praise of Kapler’s intellect, perseverance, and humility. Regardless of his enigmatic profile, Kapler may face an uphill climb in winning over some Giants fans, as indicated by a separate Saturday column from the Chronicle’s Ann Killion, which amplifies the quotes of several San Francisco followers upset over the implications of Kapler’s hire (link).
- The player’s unions for the NFL and MLB have entered into a new partnership. Specifically, the NFLPA and MLBPA have come to an agreement with RedBird Capital Partners to form a company called OneTeam Partners LLC. This joint operation will manage the portrayals of respective league athletes, according to Miriam Gottfried, Andrew Beaton, and Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal (link). Each player union has typically negotiated the sale of player likeness and image to gaming, trading card, and other companies independently, but OneTeam Partners is presumably designed to leverage the combined forces of both unions. Individual players will still receive their standard annual payouts from such deals, but RedBird Capital will use union licensing funds to invest in additional, outside opportunities.