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HumpLinks: Albert puts best foot forward

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Nothing but good news is coming out of Tempe so far. Let's live it, love it.

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody is in shape. Everybody is healthy. Everybody is on the verge of a fantastic season.Well, maybe not Jered Weaver. We still wonder about him.

But Mike Scioscia is a sabre freak, everybody gets along with everybody, the first Spring game is today, C. J. Wilson is a dad, and Albert Pujols is way ahead of schedule, maybe even on track for Opening Day.

I'm tempted to quit while being way out ahead. But, instead, I'm going to plod all the way through the season anyway. Starting with REAL BASEBALL GAME Links:

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Everywhere In Baseball

Freezing: We made no attempt to hang on to David "Clutch" Freese, and grabbed Yunel Escobar from the Nationals instead. Freese is still out there, wandering in the wilderness. So everybody is out there thinking that Freese is the secret solution to some potential problem. Like the Yankees............

Nava More: Daniel Nava is our underdog-overcomes-all-odds story this year. It's gotta be somebody, so let's pump up our Left Field question mark. Here's something I hadn't paid attention to before: Nava hit a grand slam home run on the first pitch of his first Major League at-bat when he came up with the Red Sox as a rookie. In a way, it would be kind of sad if that first pitch turns out to be the highlight of his entire career. But here's something to embrace: Nava was 27 years old when he was that rookie who hit that first pitch. By the time he gets to 27 years of age, Mike Trout (who is still only 24) will have more than 200 home runs. That would put him in the Top 325 players in the history of MLB............

Baldo Bump: Yeah, Roberto Baldoquin now has the fingerprints of the Scott Boras Corporation all over him. Since switching agencies in the offseason and getting moved to Boras' own training facility, we already have read that Baldoquin has gained huge grounds in his acclimation efforts. But now Baldo is reading like a media doll............

Hard Start: Yeah, the first few days of the season are going to be slow. The Angels draw perhaps THE top pre-season choice for the 2017 World Series Champ in the Chicago Cubs, and to be doubly-fun they also draw Jake Arrieta as their first pitcher. Now, Opening Day is typically a pretty low run-scoring day, because it's the only day when nothing but #1 pitchers all pitch at the same time. But, still, Mike Trout has a 2-year streak of fist at-bat home runs, both against Felix Hernandez, and wouldn't it be cool to see Trout give Arrieta the King Felix treatment?...........

Defense: The Angels are projecting to be pretty good on defense this year. Not all that unusual in the Mike Scioscia era. A couple of seasons ago it didn't work out, but the Halo D rebounded immediately after and continues to rise. This past offseason, the Angels shuffled up their positional roster in such a way as to improve their projected defense by +30 runs, the greatest improvement for 2016. They are set to be 7th in defense in MLB. Don't ask me to explain the chart at the bottom of that link, however. Somehow swapping shortstops with the Braves has had a much greater positive impact on the Angels (+17) then it has as a negative factor for Atlanta (-3)..........

Maybe, Baby: So, like, you're saying that there's a chance?  Being honest about the Halo campaign prospects this year, all the angst we put up during hot stove season are codified by somebody who is not a Halos Heaven negative nancy, and published out there for all to see. Yep. This is why we whined all winter. But I would add to this author's review that there is a fair chance the opposition doesn't pan out, either. At that point we are all where we ended up last season, and that's close enough to make anything possible............

Ouch: No, really. I do mean ouch. Dodgers pitcher Josh Ravin was in a car crash and broke his non-throwing arm. He needs surgery. Quickly. Fugly............

Suspense Story: Aroldis Chapman will be suspended for 30 games, starting with the first game of the season, all without pay. This is the consequence handed down from the MLB Front Office as a result of Chapman's domestic violence incident. Keep in mind that Chapman was never actually indicted for any acts of violence against anyone, but Commissioner Manfred's need for evidence is far different. All he needed to know was that Chapman fired off his handgun in his garage, and Chapman's girlfriend told Manfred's investigators that Chapman's action upset her. Chapman, as a closer, would probably miss out on about 20 innings of work, and is not planning to appeal............

Cubanos: The Tampa Bay Rays are set to play an exhibition game in Havana versus the Cuban National team. The game is set to be played on March 22nd, possibly with President Obama in attendance...........

Up The Barricades!: The Rockies seem to have noticed that playing in thin air is taking a toll on the reputation of their product. So, in defiance of MLB's attempts to correct the deterioration of offense around baseball, the Rockies are intent at lowering offensive production. And they will do it by raising their home run fencing in Coors Field...........

Sweet Sounds of Spring: Camps are open. Pro players grab their bats. Those bats are wood, and they will soon come in contact with baseballs. And when that happens, the sound to be made will resonate all the way into your heart.............

Easy Money: Go ahead, follow the math on this article about the Best Bet in MLB for 2016, and put your money on the Royals. To come in under their projected win total..............

Pitching Artist: Normally we consider a skilled pitcher to be an artist, as a painter of the corners. But the Blue Jays are giving a chance to a pitching prospect who is a different kind of artist. A real artist. A sculptor. Maybe we can commission him to make us a Panther...........

Hall of Fame: I agree. We need more recognition for writers in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 5 years after I retire, I expect a full-court lobbying effort in my behalf out of all of you...........

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Graph of the Day

Jake Arrieta: Our Opening Day opponent strikes out a lot. A lot of other team's batters, that is.....

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