“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Roger Hornsby
We’re in the thick of Spring Training, where we really learn nothing about teams other than who had players get injured at Spring Training, and what the final rosters are. Either way, it beats the hell out of the eternal winter we’ve been suffering through!
I want to make a note about the passing of Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered the Tommy John surgery procedure. He was 88 years old, and the BBWAA failed once again to recognize greatness while it was still with us. Their failure to include him in the Baseball Hall of Fame while he could have been here to see it is yet another red mark on their name (I’m still bitter about Ron Santo and Buck O’Neil). Jobe’s work revitalized the careers of hundreds of pitchers and other players. Hell, you could make an argument that the most recent expansions couldn’t have been possible without him, at least without a severe drop in overall talent level. The ultimate purpose of the Hall is to preserve the past for future generations, but missing the opportunity to recognize and thank the living for their tremendous accomplishments and gifts to the game is a tragic poverty.
But on to baseball. I’m watching just a few storylines this spring. I’ve been interested to see where Ervin Santana ends up - his free agency has just been a giant clusterfuck. This draft pick compensation business just doesn’t seem to make much sense. But there’s a lot of blame in Santana’s lap. Looks like he’ll likely end up in Atlanta, who can never seem to catch a break with their rotation. They always seem this close to putting together a starting five that could be really impressive, but something happens. Hanson, Beachy, Medlen and then Beachy again.
I think the Orioles are getting ready for another run like they had in 2012. Their offense is slowly building to one of the best starting nine in the game (depending on how a post-PED Nelson Cruz shakes out), and if their young arms in the rotation develop quickly, they’re going to win the East. I thought their 2012 season was a blast to watch - how many 1-run wins did they squeak away with?
And of course, I’m watching the Royals rotation situation. Hochevar going off for Tommy John surgery may be a blessing in disguise. If it gets Davis out of the rotation, it’s a net gain. And if Ventura gets that slot and succeeds, I’m going to be happy. (Conversely, if Odorizzi gets a rotation spot for the Rays and does well, I may have to be put on suicide watch. “Oh, you want the best player in the minors AND these promising pitching prospects for a star pitcher who we’ll unlikely be able to sign for the period in which we’re projecting to make our playoff push? Sure!”)
So what have you been paying attention to? What are the stories you see emerging?