Welcome to Spring 2015, officially. And, for the astro-nuts among you, It's a pretty Freaky Friday. We all get the Spring Equinox, and most of us should get to see a supermoon. But a few lucky folks might also get to fit in a solar eclipse. All today!
The problem with those special folks is that they will be located in some forgotten corner of Norway. So they won't get to see Mike Trout play baseball. And they won't get to see all the terrific production coming from the LAA franchise youngsters right now. Maybe they will want some links...
- Carlos "Clutch" Perez: I don't care if it IS just spring training. It's real uniforms on a real field in front of a real crowd with real umpires and real rules and all the other players are real. So you get to come to bat with 2 outs in the last inning and your team down by 1 with the tying run on 1st base, and you are ready to deal with the very first pitch, AND YOU DOUBLE IN THE TYING RUN! And that's the way the expo game ended yesterday against the Dodgers, with a 7-7 tie.
Albert Pujols: Old Man Albert can still hit a baseball far enough, on occasion, hitting his first home run of Spring yesterday.............It's worth mentioning this, because the world of fantasy baseball now classifies Pujols as a Tier 2 1B............But, let's get real. Even Albert now knows who the real star is in Anaheim. His contribution for charity is a Mike Trout autographed baseball.
- Andrew Heaney: Don't get worked up over Heaney getting hammered yesterday. Which did happen. He worked 10 outs, and was burned for 6 earned runs on 7 hits and a walk. Those who were in the middle of it all had a much better appreciation for what is happening with his development overall, and how he worked it as he went through the rotation. There is a lot to be said about being an insider to the process and participating in the chatter between pitcher, catcher and coaches.
- 2B or not 2B: So, yeah, we are having, essentially, an open call for a second baseman this season, praying that somebody shows up In The Best Shape Of Their Life and has their career year. Oh, and one other player shows just enough to be his depth chart baby. And, yeah, any other name is the loser. We need a significant fraction of what Howie Kendrick might produce this year or we hurt pretty bad. No pressure, right? Right? RIGHT?? Oh hell no! It's all just fun and games there farting around as pretend second basemen this spring. Sure it is. Laughs all around.
- Yeah, Yarborough!: Out here in the real world, we call it "cross-training" and it is THE way to increase value and create career opportunities for oneself. In baseball, it's called "getting work in at an unfamiliar position". And the Angels are putting Yarborough through paces at third to get him familiar there and see if he can respond and show versatility, and add to his roster value. Alex kind of agree. He sees it as a great way to make it to the Bigs. So he can get back to playing second base. "The goal is to someday be an everyday second baseman, just because that's what I played my whole time at pro ball. But anywhere they need me to fill in; as long as it gets you up quicker." I would advise Alex to remain open to the possibility, however remote, that he is better as a 3B than a 2B. It wouldn't be the first time.
- Farmer's Market: I do know it's so early, and in such a meaningless time, but it's still fun to look atthe ST stats for LAA and sort by hits, and note that every name above Pujols has been a card-carrying member of The Worst Farm System In Baseball. And those stat lines for those kids are credible in any of the other 31 teams spring results. Trout, Cron, Cowgill, Calhoun and Navarro...........And, yeah, pay particular attention to C.J. Cron!
This Date In Baseball History: 1934 - WAY ahead of Will Ferrell, Olympic Gold Medalist Babe Didrickson participates in a few spring training games as part of an exhibition. Facing the Brooklyn Dodgers as an honorary member of the Philadelphia A's, she pitches the first inning. She gives up only one walk, zero hits and zero runs.............1953 - In a move designed to protect Minor League Baseball attendance, Senator Ed Johnson proposes a bill to ban MLB broadcasts into MiLB territories..................1973 - Having already waived the 5-year waiting period, the BBWAA conducts a special election and elects the late Roberto Clemente to baseball's Hall of Fame...........1989 - Then Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth announces that Major League Baseball is conducting an inquiry into "serious allegations" concerning Reds manager Pete Rose and gambling. And here we are, 26 years later, with Rose requesting re-instatement (again), and this time it appears as though current Commissioner Manfred is thinking about it..................2006 - Japan wins the very first World Baseball Classic title............2006 - Believing himself to be a second baseman and nothing else, Alfonso Soriano refuses to take left field as a National in an ST game against the Dodgers, risking disqualification for insubordination, which would lead to the loss of his $10 million salary and a year of service accrual towards Free Agency. Soriano relents 2 days later.
HISTORY BONUS: Fun with vintage player photos over at Hardball Times.
- A Finish Line: How awesome is THIS? MLB is setting up the final day of the regular season so that EVERY GAME WILL START AT THE EXACT SAME TIME! This will be so cool if there are some playoff spots still be grabbed on the last day!
- Brady Aiken Update: To refresh, Brady Aiken was last year's !1 overall pick that the Astros backed away from after he underwent his physical, pulling their offer and resubmitting a lower contract bonus. Aiken went unsigned and the baseball inter-webs went nuts. Well, Aiken is pitching for IMG Academy as he gets ready for this year's draft, where he is predicted to go as high as a Top 5. Well, there may be more to this story in defense of the Astros after all. Aiken made his first start for IMG and lasted all of 13 pitches before walking off the field with a trainer. Some of the rumors are about his physical state, and those rumors are not good. Not good at all. "...not 100% right physically have persisted all spring..." and "...Velo on last pitch, curveball, dipped to 72..."
- Cubanos for Everyone!: Well, it makes perfect sense, i suppose. What with so many players finding a way to escape Cuba and join MLB and make millions for themselves, MLB is looking to to to Cuba directly and play some exhibition games there, perhaps making a buck or two in the process. From Commissioner Rob Manfred: "It’s a great source of talent. We’ve seen the level of interest that quality Cuban players have generated among major league clubs. And secondly, Cuba is a country where baseball is part of the culture, like it is here in the United States, and we love markets like that."
- Dare to Differ: Chalk this up under Things They Can Get Away With in Minor League Baseball. A chapter that is, by the way, rather large. The Atlantic League, an independent, is gonna try speed baseball this summer, setting up new rules for limiting at-bats and shrinking game time. "Earlier this week, the league announced they will experiment with three-ball walks and two-strike foul outs in 2015. So if the hitter fouls a pitch off with two strikes, he's out. Under these rules, every at-bat is guaranteed to last no more than five pitches, which should cut down the time of game significantly." These rules won't be used all the time, so it should be easy to parse out any impact on player stats who are trying to earn a call from an MLB franchise.
The Brewers still love themselves some Ron Roenicke. our staff was once so incredibly awesome. Will we say that again some time soon?...........What happens when immovable objection (Joe West) meets irresistible farce (A.J. Pierzynski)? The most reserved and passive ejection in the history of baseball..................This is why WiHalo doesn't get to have a baseball team in Wisconsin. Shit don't grow there in time..............The Internet wins another one. Going down in defeat this year are manual punch All Star ballots. For those of you wondering what the hell punch cards are, here are some from even as far back as my summer youth nights spent in Anaheim..............Fan Fail: If you try to catch a home run ball with your cap, first make sure you are wearing a cap..............Not like it matters, but Dayn Perry puts Mike Trout at even odds to repeat as AL MVP...............And Bryce Harper is declared "Most Overrated Player"...by the other players, in a landslide. For the second year in a row..............Size matters. Just ask the Mets about their new Jumbotron...............Billy Beane has been hired to advise a soccer team. In Holland. Sure, Beane loves soccer. But methinks there might be a slight disconnect here.............Order is being restored to the world, as Derek Jeter sloooooowly returns to anonymity...............OT, as it ain't about baseball, but it is about sports, and how some folks tend to forget that their billions is all built on top of a game. Recreation. A diversion. Not, you know, like carrying the responsibility for figuring shit out without destroying all human life on the entire planet via nuclear holocaust............
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday...for beer...
Friday: Ambr on Ash Cask Tapping at Urbn St. Brewing Company in El Cajon...............
Saturday: 4th Annual Capital City International Brewfest at Sacramento Turn Verein Hall in Sacramento.............Firkfest Cask Beer Festival & Chili Cookoff at Farmers Park in Anaheim.........North Coast Brewing Company Beer Dinner at the WineSeller And Brasserie in San Diego..........Ummm, not necessarily a beer event, but definitely baseball related. Tim Flannery & The Lunatic Fringe performs at the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding. Yeah. THAT Tim Flannery.............The Winner's Circle BBQ Championship takes place at Santa Anita Park.
BEER BONUS #1: Best Beer Countries, where we Americans rank pretty damned highly.
BEER BONUS #2: Best Beer States in the US, where we Californians rank pretty damned highly. And, if you add up these two BEER BONUSES, it would appear that we beer-loving Californians are living rather large these days.