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MondoLinks: Countdown - 18 days to go!

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Welcome to February. Pitchers and catchers report on the 18th, provided we make it past tomorrow, which is Groundhog Day. Wait. Didn't I already type that yesterday?

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For those who are not in SoCal, it rained all day yesterday. Seriously, we have been in drought mode for so long that I honestly did not know what to do with myself on a rainy day. I think I was supposed to put a fire in the fireplace, put on some jazz, and pull out a great novel from my bookshelf. Instead, I spent the day painting. Pitiful. Have some paint-all-over-my-keyboard-Links:

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Everywhere In Baseball

Big Hopes: Of all the players in baseball who are at a crossroads, among the 5 most prominent would be our Tyler Skaggs...........

Bigger Hopes: Ken Rosenthal takes us to Toronto for a panel discussion before fans of the Blue Jays, and dives into the study of how fans feel about the game, and their heroes, and how valued that might be in defiance of franchise logic and strategic financial planning. It reads good. It reads warm. And fulfilling. And it reminds those of us LA Angels fans how following one's heart instead of one's brain leads to the dark side. Especially if that heart is impulsive, willing to override the advice of experts, and has control of your wallet...........

Lowered Expectations: And so we speak of wallets. As has already been stated, this winter's Free Agent class was the best talent pool in years. And it aligned perfectly with the roster needs in Anaheim. And Arte turned his back on all that out of fear for a tax bill. We are still a way off from having enough information to completely forecast any tax possibilities, but we are getting close. (It will still be a forecast, mind you, because the luxury tax is based on the roster at the end of a season, not at the beginning.) So an important point comes out in this F grade off-season report card for the Angels, to those who are trying to calculate stuff on napkins at home: the AAV of the salary contracts is much less than the actual salary costs to be paid this season, and the Angels are still well below the threshold. Well. Below............

Zero Expectations: The MLB Top 100 Prospect list was released over the weekend. Go ahead, read all about every other team. Don't bother looking for any of our guys there. But if you want to see what constitutes a list of Arte's futures stock, there is always somebody willing to do the ugly work...........

And yet, we gotta aim high: And we gotta aim high NOW. Because although we are the ones who have THE Mike Trout, what we have around him is evaporating fast and there ain't much in the cupboard behind them...........

Odd Balls: The American Baseball Coaches Association is meeting in Nashville, and with the big bosses out of the way the crazies have snuck in to peddle their wild ideas to baseball. Super fancy radars (including one mounted in a hitting tee) and motion capture systems, a computerized optimizer for baseball bat fitting, an LED-powered baseball, and full-body wearable sensors to record athletic performance. And other stuff. It could take you all day to search out all the stuff being shown...........

How Rich: Now here is a headline to bust a gut. Theo Epstein: Cub's blueprint inspired by Royals' success. Kansas City went into the 2015 season with a payroll commitment of $113 million. With that as the "blueprint", Epstein went in the offseason and rained greenbacks all over the Winter landscape. They will open 2016 north of $150 million, having snatched up Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Ben Zobrist, Trevor Cahill, Andury Acevedo and traded for Adam Warren. And that's not to mention the several dozen transactions of signing guys to minor league contracts. How that parallels the Royals is well beyond me. I'm waiting for Theo to start trying to convince us all that he has struggles as a small market team............

Have Some Fun: One day, a MLB owner is going to go all Bill Veeck on baseball, hire a minor league marketing employee to run his MLB promotional schedule, and we will all have a great time. Because, as we all should know, minor league promo schedules are all about having a great time. You will notice that there is not a single red, white and blue sombrero in the whole shebang...........

Another Loss: Last week we read about the loss of Houston Astros prospect Jose Rosario, killed in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic. This weekend we lost another prospect, Orioles prospect Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez also died in a motorcycle accident, and also in his native DR............

OT:O And we think corked bats are a bad idea? How about a pro cyclist hiding a motor inside her bike?.............

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