Entries Tagged as 'Spring Training'

What kind of #1 pick will Strasburg be?

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has a rather interesting article regarding Stephen Strasburg and former MLB first round picks.  His point is simple… we’ve gotten some real goodies with the #1 pick (Griffey, Arod, Chipper, Mauer) but at the same time, there have been some duds, too. 

Crasnick trots out some examples to make his point.  Players like Brien Taylor (who never even made to the majors), Matt Anderson, Paul Wilson to name just a few.  When I take a cursory look at Baseball Reference’s list of first round picks, I come away with the opinion that position players seem to have better luck than pitchers.  Hence the concern about Strasburg.

Don’t get me wrong… this isn’t an indictment by me on Stephen Strasburg’s talent or the possibility he may develop into a first-rate pitcher.  Rather it’s a concern that the media, baseball pundits and fans may expect too much too soon from someone who has yet to pitch in a regular season baseball game. 

This pre-season, the media and other baseball are falling over themselves trying to cover this guy.  I get the feeling they’re also falling in love with him too (sometimes in the weirdest way).  The day of his first start in spring training, everyone was all abuzz (and a-twitter) about it.  I pretty much got an over-excited pitch-by-pitch account of his appearance.  If he scratched his nose, I heard about it. 

Now that it’s been decided that Strasburg will make his debut later this year (some have said “delay”), I’m sure the media will no doubt keep an eye on his minor league development. 

I really would like to see this guy succeed.  So let’s give the guy some room and maybe not so much pressure.  I’d hate to have another Mark Prior on our hands. 

2009 Cactus League

camelbackranch08 After a week in the Sunshine State watching the Grapefruit League, a weekend in Chicago to play some APBA, it was time to travel to the desert to enjoy some Cactus League action. Met up with DonS & Tom at the airport and it was off to the ballpark.

First stop was Scottsdale for a game between the Angels & the Giants. Sitting behind us was a tattooed couple & their son Dylan, they live on 100 acres, 2 hours north of SF, what nice people, really enjoyed meeting them. The Angels won the game thanks in part to SF reliever Luis Perdomo, who walked three, gave up one hit, committed two errors, in 1/3 innings of work. Brandon Wood looked overmatched, Macier Izturis had trouble hitting the ball past the pitcher, and Nick Adenhart had trouble pitching out of the stretch for the Halos. For SF, Emmanuel Burriss had to leave the game after getting plunked by a pitch, right after I said, he was injury prone, Justin Miller threw the ball well in his two scoreless innings, and Waldis Joaquin was lights out striking out three in 1 1/3 innings.

St. Patty’s Day it was time to go to Phoenix to see the A’s host the split squad Diamondbacks. Highly touted Max Scherzer barely broke a sweat, as he was pulled after only 2/3 of an inning, three hits, one walk, one error, five runs, only one earned, it’s tough to get by with only a fastball. Sean Gallagher looked sharp for Oakland against minor leaguers. I enjoyed seeing Aaron Cunningham go yard for Oakland, he’s a real hustler, reminds me of Lenny Dykstra. 11-3 A’s. Celebrated St. Patty’s Day at the Library a bar near ASU, lotsa green shots.

Wednesday it was time to check out the Ballpark at Camelback Ranch as the White Sox hosted the Angels. DonS wanted me to bet him a shaved head on the outcome, not much point in that, as his melon was already polished. The Ballpark was unbelievable! Thirteen practice fields for the LA Dodgers & the ChiSox, Connie’s Pizza, place holds 13,000 fans, and they even have a stirfry noodle dish. For LAA Dustin Moseley worked five shutout innings and Chone Figgins & Gary Matthews, Jr. hit homers. Chris Getz hit the ball sharply, Octavio Dotel struckout three in his perfect inning, and Mike MacDougal showed why he’s so overpaid, three hits & one run in his one scary inning. The Halos won this one, 4-1. Went to my favorite pizza place Pizzeria Bianco with Joe after the game, waited three hours, better than I remembered, it’s all good.

The last game of our trip was back where it all started in Scottsdale. DonS’ brother Kevin, his wife Dawn, Rob T, and his wife Vicki joined us for tailgating before the game. John Danks worked five scoreless innings for the Pale Hose, Carlos Quentin & Paul Konerko went deep, and Aaron Poreda punched his minor league ticket, spitting it out, five runs over 1 1/3 innings. Jeremy Affeldt worked out of a self induced bases loaded jam for the save, he started the game on Monday for SF, so it all came around in a great big circle. Sox lost 6-4. After the game we took a trip over to the Salty Senorita for some Mexican food, Mexican food, and some Margaritas. Can’t think of a better way to bid Arizona adios.

Frying in Florida

roy_halladay Went to Dunedin to watch the Blue Jays host the Buccos on Wednesday. Roy Halladay was on the hill for the Jays, opposed by Paul Maholm for Pittsburgh. I bought great tickets ahead of time, don’t know what I was thinking, as it wasn’t a sellout, I paid $8.00 in service charges, Mom ducked out till the 7th inning, and we both left after 9 innings. Enough sun!

Our seats were near homeplate along the thirdbase line, right in the sun! Didn’t wear sunscreen, except on my nose, don’t know what I was thinking. By the time Mom arrived in the 7th, I was fried, welcome Mr. Tomato!

Andrew McCutchen bounced a double down the thirdbase line, but Doc left him stranded there. Travis Snider ripped two singles, both line shots. Michael Barrett bounced into a doubleplay, midseason form. Matt Capps & B.J. Ryan looked sharp in their one innings stints, while Jeff Karstens was shaky two runs in two innings. Aaron Hill doubled and looked stellar in the field, concussion is behind him.

Craig Monroe took a 9th inning meatball over the leftfield wall to tie the game at 2, another reason to hate Craig Monroe! I was cooked after regulation, headed to the convertible. Only three games in the Sunshine State, off to the Cactus League Monday, no PC, will recap when I return to the Windy City.

Baseball Clearwater Revival

jason-donald Reds starter Bronson Arroyo allowed solo homers to Geoff Jenkins & Ryan Howard. The law firm of Hanigan, Alonso, & Valaika went yard for Cincinnati (a 2-run, a solo, & a granny).

Phillies SS Jason Donald played 3B, after playing 2B on Saturday, and all this kid did was hit, three base knocks on Monday, raising his average to .320 on the Spring. Jason has an heir about him, will be a star, soon fans in Philadelphia will be wearing Donald jerseys. He looks like he belongs in the bigs.

Was looking forward to watching Jay Bruce, but was disappointed as he looked to be going through the motions.

Cole Hamels didn’t look as impressive as Bronson Arroyo. Chris Coste got the biggest ovation from the crowd when he took over behind the plate. Former star running back Eric Dickerson’s cousin Chris was hungry when he came into the game. Dickerson showed energy lining a basehit & stealing a base, looks to have a starting outfield job.

Baseball in Clearwater

mouse Arrived in Florida Friday night, didn’t know the Phillies were playing the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Enjoyed flaming cheese in Tarpon Springs instead, getting ready for the Tigers at the Phighting Phils in Clearwater on Saturday. 80 degrees every day, kinda tough to take, not really.

John Mayberry, Sr. walked by where we were standing behind home plate, still looks great, like he could still play today, looks quicker than his playing days. JM2 was penciled into RF for Philadelphia. He took a 2-0 Edwin Jackson far over the Frenchy’s sign in LF in the first inning with two aboard staking the Phillies to a three to nothing lead.

Tigers secondbaseman Scott Sizemore caught a Jamie Moyer third inning pitch on the sweet spot and carried it over the centerfield fence. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with Sizemore in the Arizona Fall League, but this poke was quite a feat.

Then this Howie guy or Howard Ryan or Ryan Howard hit a three run bomb, I’ll go out on a limb and say, this kid’s gonna be pretty good.

Clete Thomas of Detroit, batting lefty off lefty Scott Eyre, knocked one out over the rightfield wall in the 8th.

J.A. Haap made a strong showing, striking out seven, allowing two hits, over three innings. Haap should fill in for J.C. Romero till his suspension is over, then sliding into the rotation. I thought cloning wasn’t allowed, but J.A.’s a Cole Hamels look-a-like.

Kemp and Manny

Upon seeing outfielder Matt Kemp appear in the clubhouse at 8:30 a.m., according to MLB.com, Ramirez called out, “You’re late. I was here at 6:30.”

“I was here three weeks ago,” Kemp retorted, according to MLB.com.

The Dodgers’ Ramirez is scheduled to play in his first spring training game on Thursday. 


Beckham’s Better

beckham There is a current battle underway for the starting secondbase spot with the Chicago White Sox, with the incumbent Alexei Ramirez sliding over to SS replacing Orlando Cabrera. So the guys battling are Jayson Nix, Chris Getz, and Brent Lillibridge. What I really don’t understand is why there hasn’t been more discussion about leaving Alexi at 2B, with Gordon Beckham taking over the starting SS position.

Beckham was the White Sox #1 draft choice out of the University of Georgia, where he led the NCAA last season with 28 homers, while batting .411 in 197 games at Georgia. Gordon is a born SS and a born competitor. He reminds me of former White Sox SS Bucky Dent in the field, but with a much better bat.

Jayson Nix is a solid fielding secondbaseman, with pop, however he strikes out quite a bit, and is not a leadoff type hitter. Nix was handed the starting job last season with the Colorado Rockies, but couldn’t get the job done. Now Jayson, at 26, understands the importance of not taking this opportunity lightly.

I really like Chris Getz. He’s a lefthanded batter out of the University of Michigan, he’s a real battler, does all the little things well, not as good a fielder as Nix, but he can bat leadoff.

Brent Lillibridge was a SS in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but is competing with Getz & Nix for the starting secondbase job. Brent has excellent speed, but lost his stroke last season with Atlanta, batting only .220 in AAA.

Competition’s good, I hope it’s not a closed competition. Last season Jerry Owens won the starting CF job last year, but was injured, so Carlos Quentin got a shot, and we all know how well that turned out. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think Beckham needs to pay his dues in the minors, this kid’s from a big time college, and he’s ready to PLAY BALL!

Good News for Desert Sox

viciedo It’s early, but it might be time. The 19 year old Cuban thirdbaseman Dayan Viciedo singled in his first at bat of the spring. The 5’11” 245 pound Viciedo signed a four year $10 million dollar deal over the winter with the White Sox. Although his contract is more than double that of fellow countryman SS Alexei Ramirez, he might be this year’s bargain basement baby. Dayan said, he felt relaxed, no pressure at all. With Joe Crede signing with the Minnesota Twins, thirdbase is wide open for Wilson Betemit, Josh Fields, & Dayan Viciedo, and Brent Morel & Jon Gilmore, waiting in the wings.

In fact the wide open positions have plenty of competition. For example secondbase will feature Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge, or last year’s first round draft choice out of Georgia, Gordon Beckham.

And finally the rotation. Former AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon and Playoff & World Series hero Jose Contreras are ahead of schedule and look ready to start the season in the rotation when the team breaks camp, joining Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks. If anyone falters, Jeff Marquez, who came over from the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade, and Aaron Poreda the big lefthander out of the University of San Francisco are looking to prove what they can do.

Saw in yesterday’s White Sox/Rockies box score where Eric Young, Jr. played secondbase for Colorado. The kid, just like his old man, can fly, and will steal alot of bases in the big leagues, no matter what position he ends up playing.


brandon-wood1 I knew it was coming, but I guess it caught me off guard, yesterday my White Sox played their first game of the spring in the desert against the LA Angels of Anaheim. The results don’t mean a thing, neither do the stats, the players are just getting their work in, but the fans are in the stands, rooting for their team. DonS, I’m not just saying this because your Halos crunched my Pale Hose.

I featured a picture of Angels SS Brandon Wood as a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Wood was 0-2 in his two plate appearances, but he nailed it, hitting the ball on the screws, in both ABs. Jermaine Dye made a very solid catch, crashing into the wall in RF, taking an extra basehit away from Brandon his first time up. Then Jerry Owens leaped into the fence in leftcenter, once again robbing Wood. I know this stuff also happens in the regular season, but it’s even more misleading in preseason because of the limited amount of games played. This is much more of a good sign for Wood, rather than a failure.

White Sox non-roster minor league pitcher Brad Salmon allowed six runs in 2/3 of an inning pitched. With a spring ERA of 81.00, his chance of making it back to the big leagues have taken a major step backward.

Still, I must admit, I checkout the boxscores, looking for any info I might gather, but more important than that, it’s baseball!

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Japanese team to play in spring training in 2010?

Interesting, it’s being proposed that a Japanese team play 15 games during spring training in 2010. 

The team would play in Tucson and would replace the White Sox who have relocated to the Phoenix area. 

Tucson tourism officials are behind the proposal but say the MLB is “open” to the idea and the Diamondbacks and Rockies have been receptive to the concept.