Friday Q&A: Hitters in Las Vegas and Stadium Concerns in Savannah

Mets farmhands will put up sweet-looking numbers in Las Vegas. Everyone does. The average hitter will see his numbers rise 25% moving from Buffalo to Vegas. Adjust accordingly. I wonder whether some types of hitters are helped more than others. I have not crunched the numbers, but often extreme environments help or hurt one handed hitters more than others.

As with pitchers however, pay attention to walk and strikeout rates for hitters. One key early question for 2013 will be whether Matt den Dekker can improve on his 6.4 K/BB ratio (90 K/14 BB in 77 games in 2012).

Grayson Stadium, the oldest full-season minor league park in America, is a pretty yard with operational problems. From the Mets’ perspective, the biggest drawback has to be a cramped clubhouse. There is no weight room or other amenities for the players. All three coaches share one tiny office. From the team perspective, a new stadium would be extremely lucrative through premium seating including suites, and concession stands that can serve fans’ needs better without long lines.¬†

I think the odds are around 50/50, or maybe a little better that Savannah will move ahead with a new stadium in the next two years. As the Savannah Morning News reported, there’s about $22 million left over from a 2006 voter-approved SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) that was earmarked for a new police headquarters and an arena. The problem? Neither the arena nor the new police headquarters have been built. The outdated police buildings, which the Police Chief described as a “hellhole” are in a particularly poor state with leaky roofs and air quality problems. Legally, the language of the bill, which suggested it would fund the arena and “cultural and recreational facilities” is probably broad enough to support spending that money on the stadium. However, I suspect the political backlash in Savannah would be significant if the city government were to use that money on a new riverfront baseball stadium instead of an arena or police building. To be clear, generally new baseball stadiums of this size would cost in the $25-30 range, and an arena $120 million or more, so there is close to enough money in the account for a stadium, but not for an arena. If the city can find a way to build both, it would be much more politically palatable.

As far as the backup plan for the Mets? I think they’ll ride with Savannah for a while. It’s the closest SAL city to Port St. Lucie and a manageable six hour or less drive ballpark to ballpark. It’s a really pretty city with a lot more going on than your average a-ball city.