This is it, the final week of Spring Training. All those questions the Angel bigwigs had going into the preseason have been answered...or so we think. Q: Who's going to be the fifth starter in the rotation? A: No one! (They're going with four starters). Q: Which of the 17 players vying for the second base opening won the job? A: This guy: In second-base race, signs point to Giavotella - angels.com, "I think I've opened some eyes that I am capable of being a big leaguer; that I'm a quality option to be that guy to fill the void of Howie Kendrick," Giavotella said. "I think I showed them that I bring a lot of energy to each game, help the lineup out offensively. Even my defense; I feel like I've given them confidence that I can go out and make any play out there." (I'm still hoping for Utley).
- Wow, it looks like we'll need to start taking the Mariners seriously, as Grantland's preview picks them to win the AL West division. within their write-up was this interesting bit of information: 2015 AL West Preview: Prepare for Playoff Baseball in Seattle - Grantland, "Angels pitchers might be the best in the game at pitching to their home park. Among AL ballparks, Angel Stadium is tied with O.co Coliseum as the hardest place to hit a home run; according to Inside Edge, pitchers in Anaheim allowed the league’s lowest HR/FB rate last season (8.4 percent). Also according to Inside Edge’s classifications, Angels pitchers allowed fly balls more often than any other staff except the Rays’ last season. That could be a coincidence, except they also threw their fastballs "up in or above the strike zone" 37.3 percent of the time (second in the majors to Tampa Bay), as if they were inviting batted balls into the air."
- This is kinda old news, but just in case you missed it, the stadium underwent a little remodeling: Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson banners removed from Angel Stadium entrance - Yahoo Sports, "As for Wilson, well, the message is a little stiffer considering he's still on the team and isn't mired in any controversy. It's simply the Angels acknowledging he's no longer one of the team's best players four years into a five-year, $77.5 million contract, and perhaps on a deeper level they're acknowledging his days are numbered."
- We knew this was coming, so why is everyone acting like it's some big deal? After impressive spring, Bryant sent down by Cubs - MLB.com, "Bryant, the Cubs' top prospect, was assigned to Minor League camp on Monday along with shortstop Addison Russell, while Javier Baez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. The Iowa team now may have one of the best infields in baseball." If I were a Cubs' fan, this would be good news. They'll keep Bryant an extra year by having him stay in the minors for just 12 days. No-brainer.
- And speaking of Cubs' prospects, Lyle Spencer has done that thing he does by comparing a current player with someone from the recent past: Soler's talent, temperament evoke memories of Vlad - MLB.com, "It is a testament to the power of the Kris Bryant Experience that Soler has managed to fly under the Cubs' radar in spite of soaring skills calling to manager Joe Maddon's mind the great Vladimir Guerrero. "That is a great compliment," Soler said Monday morning in Spanish as Cactus League play winds down. "I do not know him, just from television. But I know he was a great player."
Mike Napoli is still around and doing that thing he does:
- What a great segue from Napoli to this: Cincinnati Reds to debut nursery inside Great American Ballpark - ESPN, "When Cincinnati Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini was told by stadium operations that there was an increased number of women asking where they could nurse their children at the ballpark, as a father of five, he couldn't dismiss the idea of doing the best he could to provide a worthwhile solution. "It just didn't make sense that we would put a couple chairs in the women's bathrooms," Castellini said." Because when I think of boobs and baseball, Napoli is the guy.
- Uh-oh, this could be the end for Scott Downs: Indians release left-hander Scott Downs - HardballTalk, "Downs was long one of the better left-handed setup men in baseball, but showed major signs of decline last season at age 38 while throwing 38 innings with a 4.97 ERA and 25/20 K/BB ratio for the White Sox and Royals."
- Spend some time today wrapped up in a little Joe: A Baseball Story - Joe Posnanski, "Of course, Bragan didn’t think so. He went into the season bitter. But he began to watch Robinson from a distance. There wasn’t an overnight conversion."I learned," Bragan would say. "Not fast. But I learned." The more he watched Robinson, the more he felt — despite himself — something like grudging respect. The guy could play ball; Bragan thought he was the Dodgers’ best player more or less from his first day. Robinson kept his head down. He did not try to engage teammates in conversation. He ignored the persistent taunts from the crowds and the opposing benches. Bragan at first avoided Robinson on the train, but soon he found himself drawn as if magnetized. He would sit two rows away. He would sit one row away. And then he sat next to Jackie Robinson."