MLB Spring Training 2009

(I’ve been AWOL from the Dope lately, so forgive me if I’m stealing someone else’s thread. I didn’t see much ST talk in the Offseason thread when I scanned it.)

Chris Carpenter threw off a mound for ten minutes today and did not walk away with his arm hanging from his shoulder like a string of sausages. Woo-hoo! As a Cardinal partisan, I’m envisioning the October parade down Market Street already. I’m definitely not thinking about the situation at 2B or 3B. It bothers me not a whit that Glaus had surgery late in the offseason and will miss the first month; nor am I worried that moving Skip Schumaker to 2B from the OF seems to be regarded as a pretty good idea since Adam Kennedy was released. Nope. No problems here.

How’s your self-delusion going so far?

The Blue Jays are screwed, chewed, and barbequed.

So, not well.

I’m not at all upset about A.J. Burnett going to the Yankees; I think he’s a white elephant. But the team still has no offense and no real plan to get any, and the farm system is devoid of ready talent thanks to years of terrible drafts. Unless a lot of guys surprise me and hit a lot more home runs than I expect, it’ll be another miserable season. God willing, Ricciardi will be fired soon.

Of course, I guess you never know. There’s still a lot of pitching in Toronto, and if you have pitching you never know if a couple of hitters will have big years and kaboom, you’re 95-67 and in the postseason.

Well, I’m excited for the season! We’re coming off a season where we won the division, the regulars are going to be back, and a few new promising youngsters are coming aboard. Sure, sure - I’m worried that Frank White isn’t going to be able to play as great of defense as he has at age 33, but even players in their prime right now can’t say that. I’m not worried about Brett - he just turned 31 last year, and seems to be coming off that injury pretty well. Balboni’s batting average is going to drag things down again, but you need at least one big bat in this spacious park.

As for pitching, getting rid of Larry Gura from the rotation is going to go along way. I’m not sure who’s going to take his place, but this Saberhagen kid sounds promising. Gubicza and Jackson seem like they could be hit and miss.

The one thing I’m worried about is scoring runs. We have lots of speed, but the ability of these players to get on base seems troublesome. I know - it’s all about batting average these days, and that guy out in Lawrence talking about this “on-base percentage” seems a bit off his gourd. But I think there might be something to it, and if they can’t get on, we need Brett to really pull through and hit well in the clutch to secure the top of the order.

Yup, 1985 is going to be a good time to be Royals fan!

Nope, that happens in the 2nd inning of the first game he pitches.

I have no delusions about the Cardinals at all. They are gonna suck this year. No moves by management to improve last year’s 4th place team, Ankiel going to arbitration, Colby Rasmus in limbo, a glut of mediocre outfielders, no pitching…I need to stop before I get depressed.

The only high points of this coming season will be watching LaRussa’s final season (as much as I like him it’s time for him to go, and I think DeWallet and Mo realize this) and Albert Pujols. He’s healthy. Look at his numbers from last year when he played injured. Those numbers got him the MVP. Now he’s healthy. One more time. HE’S HEALTHY. I’m almost afraid to see what he’s going to do this year.

I am cautiously happy with the Yanks. They replaced Giambi with Teixeira which is a huge upgrade in defense and a solid upgrade in offense.

The aging Abreu appears to be getting replaced by Nady which we have to see what happens.

We got nothing out of CF last year and will either do the same or maybe get a defensive improvement with Gardner who covers a huge amount of ground and is a great base stealer with plate discipline. Of course we have no clue if he can really hit major league hitting. As backups we still have Melky and now Nick Swisher who will apparently play center with his bat and extreme plate discipline. He is coming off his worst year under a manager he did not get along with. I have no clue what to expect but he is not my first choice to play center as the other two are far superior defensively. Swisher I think is a DH/occasional OF/PH for the Yanks unless he gets traded.

Johnny Damon is returning for one more season in Left and lead off. I don’t expect a big drop off in a walk year. Matsui is his prime backup but will mostly DH. He should be healthy and put up very good numbers in his walk year.

I think Cano will bounce back. He had a good off season and hopefully a small attitude adjustment. His second base play can and hopefully will improve.

Jeter will look better defensively just having Teixeira at 1st. His bat should be about the same or better.

A-Rod: Hard to guess is the latest chaos will affect his play. I think he will look better defensively, again with Teixeira at first. I hope he has another MVP type season.

Posada is back and looks ready to catch. Molina is back and is a very good defensive backstop. The Yanks have three prospects in system that look good. One, Cervelli® (age 23) looks ready to step in this year as a backup. He has a great glove but questionable bat. The other two have very good bats.

The line-up has a good mix of Righties, Lefties and Switch hitters.

I think it will be Damon(L), Jeter®, Teixeira(S), A-Rod®, Posada(S), Matsui(L), Cano(L), Nady®, Gardner(L).
xxxxxxxxxxxx Swisher and Melky are both Switch hitters off the bench.

I like the pitching staff. The starters have three power arms a crafty lefty and Wang who just wins. I know AJ is an injury question but at least we have 4 options when he or someone else goes down.
CC Sabathia (L), Wang ®, A.J. Burnett ®, Pettitte (L), Joba Chamberlain ®
xxxxxxxxxxxx Queued up: Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves and the loan lefty Phil Coke who is likely to be in the bullpen.

The relievers will probably be 7-8 deep. I like the main group and it will have depth into AAA Scranton.
Mariano Rivera closer
Brian Bruney righty setup and Damaso Marte lefty setup
Phil Coke, lefty and long man
Other Righties: Dan Giese, Edwar Ramirez, Jonathan Albaladejo, Jose Veras

I think this team has an edge on the Red Sox and Tampa might slip, especially in the Bullpen. Toronto and Baltimore both look very weak.

I just arrived in Fort Myers, where my Red Sox train. I’m very excited about the '09 season. If Beckett comes back to full health, we should be fine.

Cool, will you be there long enough to get in a game?

Dunno, booked the trip w/o checking the schedule. I think so. I hope so. I’ll check out the park tomorrow morning. I’m pretty sure I’ll be here for the first few intra-squad games.

Shorter answer: no

But I’ll be here while they’re here, I’ll have to check out when they open up the park to fans…

Hope you get in. I tried to catch a Spring Training game once while I was in Tampa on business but I couldn’t score a ticket.

What do you think of the overall Red Sox moves this winter and of the ready and near ready kids?

I tried to give a detailed overview of the Yanks hoping it would help others.

Here is a good site for information from spring training here in Arizona.

Also, this magazine used to be my guide to spring training. I don’t think they publish the magazine in hard copy any longer, but the web site might have some useful information for following spring training.

Dunno what good it will do others, but here are my concerns:

C: I think 'Tek is done but his personality is a big part of this team–they can’t sit him down and they can’t play him.

3B: Likewise Lowell–may be done, but it’s tough dealing with a hometown hero on the decline.

The pitching I think is much better: Beckett should be back, Dice-K should be good again, Lester may be great, and Penny and Wakefield very serviceable. The pen looks great: Papelbon may be the best closer in the game today, Okijima and Masterson are solid setup guys, and between Smoltz, Saito, DelCarmen and Ramirez, middle relief should be solid too. Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard both seem ready to contribute.


Ellsbury CF–OBP is lower than I’d like but he has room to grow and a lot of talent
Pedroia-- 2B --a well-deserved MVP. A hustling inspirational leader by example
Youklis–1B Or maybe he deserved last year’s MVP award?
Ortiz–DH. If healthy, a monster.
Drew–RF. Missed time to injury last year, a very good all around player
Bay–LF the anti-Manny in attitude, and a very good player
Lowell-- 3B see above
Lowrie–solid offense and defense last year. Lugo a good backup
Varitek–C see above. Maybe Bard?

Between Lugo (or Lowrie?), Baldelli, and Kotsay, bench should be strong.

Well, Bayard and Convict, there isn’t much Kool Aid to drink for Cards fans this year, unless you want to go with a potential youth movement. No dominate closer (maybe the kids?), questionable starting rotation (maybe more youth in the wings), no second baseman (I miss Aaron Miles - maybe more kids?), no third baseman (again with the kids) and we’ll have Chris Duncan in the outfield doing circles looking for fly balls.

Will Ankiel be as good as hoped for? Will Ludwick repeat? Will Greene return to form at SS? Will Glaus come back at third? If things don’t jell, Albert will get about 200 walks. Molina and Pujols is about all you can truely count on at this point.

My Cubs fan friends are already offering dubious bet offerings to entice me to make a foolish wager (“look, if the Cards finish ahead of the Cubs, I’ll moon Busch from the bleachers. Other way around, you have to moon Wrigley. Deal?”)

I hate to say it, but I don’t think I’d take that bet. If Carpenter can actually pitch all year, I think the starting rotation will be pretty decent. As far as the OF, I hope Ludwick can repeat his 2008 production and Duncan can start hitting again. He’s reputed to be healthy, so I think he’ll chip in some power. He doesn’t bring the best glove, but I didn’t think he was terrible out there. Hopefully Ankiel won’t kick off a year-long sulk after spending this afternoon listening to Cardinals’ management trying to convince the arbitrator that he sucks. I think the OF will be OK. And, as Convict points out, Pujols should be playing with two good arms, after a long offseason of rest. If he does’t spend his summer taking jogs to first base, he could be kind of incredible. As you point out, Molina is another bright spot. Can he hit over .300 again? After a season in which he didn’t gun down runners at will, can he get back to his fearsome form? I think Yes, but then I have an unhealthy obession with Molina.

But, yeah, the middle infield and bullpen are causes for concern. I mean, jeez, what is up with the Cards and second basemen? I know not just anyone can play 2B in the major leagues, but is it really that hard to find and hold on to a decent one?

I don’t think he’s done, though - my suspicion is that his divorce was distracting him last year, as well as his contract, and he’ll hit closer to his career norms this year. I do expect the Sox to make the deal for the Catcher of the Future pretty soon, though - I don’t think he’s in the organization. Meanwhile, Tek will still have to hit against lefties. Out of the 9 hole, anyway.

Fortunately that’s not a problem if Lars Anderson really is all that and a box of Cracker Jack. Having Youk being able to play either corner helps hugely.

Penny and Wakefield have injury histories that are pretty worrisome, so does Smoltz. I think they can put a good back of the rotation together just from numbers, though. Dice-K still needs to stop being so stubborn - he just can’t get through an outing without an inning where he walks the bases loaded, goes 3-2 on a bad hitter, and gets bailed out with a GIDP. That stuff just kills you to watch.

Yes, and deep, too. Masterson could even go back to the rotation if they need healthy bodies, without scaring anyone. I’d be perturbed to see Delcarmen go down because he has options and Wes Littleton doesn’t, but that’s the game.

Let’s not get carried away here. Buchholz doesn’t seem to have the mental makeup to handle Boston. Trade him to Texas for Saltalamacchia, and he’d be fine in a no-pressure environment. Bard hasn’t established himself at AAA yet.

I’ll agree with you there, except about Lugo being a good backup. He has to accept the role first, but he still thinks he’s the starter.

No reliable power. Kotsay (which will be spelled “Wilkerson” for the first month or so at least) just didn’t hit here last year. Baldelli. well, who the frak knows what he can still contribute? If Drew goes down again, they’ll have to make a deal for some offense. They won’t find it on the bench, or in AAA either.

Yeah, just like that 2nd baseball dude who struggled terribly when he first reached the majors. Pedroria was his name I believe. Buchholz is a top prospect who happened to struggle through an injury plagued year. Same with Hughes. There is a ton of evidence that says they will be very good pitchers, and little to say they won’t be. Pitching mediocre veterans over them is a good way to allow for Tampa to win their second straight division title. If I’m the Red Sox I’d much rather deal Masterson than Buchholz.

WTF? If he “struggled”, it was only for a few weeks. Rookie of the Year, remember?

The Sox took every opportunity to keep him on the DL, and rehab assignments in AAA, no matter the extent of the injury. Every game he pitched in the bigs he was inarguably healthy. The team does have policy of taking convenient excuses (“sore backs” are common) to give pitchers a few weeks off during the season, so they won’t be used up in September, sure - but they also will DL a guy whose injuries are, well, mental. Like Clay’s. Do you really think his inability to throw strikes with runners on was due to something physical? Is it just a coincidence that he could blow AAA batters away in every “rehab” start, but would be back to his usual self as soon as he came back?

They both have great arms, no question. But so do Kenny Rogers and Jeff Suppan, other examples of guys who could dominate but only when nobody really cared.

If they hadn’t stuck with Buchholz so long, and sacrificed so many wins hoping he’d get his shit together, Game 7 of the ALCS would have been in Fenway. Etc. Give me a crafty veteran who can throw a strike when he has to.

Buchholz has spent quite a bit of time this offseason with Bob Tewksbury, who is now a “sports psychologist”, apparently learning to forget the last pitch and just throw strikes. Maybe that will help, or maybe he’s just Aaron Sele.

People were calling for a replacement afte he hit 180 for the first month. Red Sox smartly considered that a tiny sample size and stuck with him. I don’t see how 76 innings is any more significant.

I think the fact that he pitched far worse than he ever has before is pretty good reason to believe he might be hurting. Players can pitch through injuries you know. Sometimes they don’t even tell the team they are hurting.

I think it is a combination of injury, batters adjusting, and small sample size. Very low on the list would be inability to pitch in a big market.

Tiger fans will disagree you given the 23 shut out innings he through in the 2006 playoffs. Rogers was a very good pitcher for a very long time, and it wouldn’t be bad outcome if either of these players had a similar career. Suppan is a mediocre pitcher with mediocre stuff, a rather odd comparison. Neither Rogers or Suppan were anywhere near the level of prospects that these two are nor did they have the same level of stuff.

Man the Rays really won that division on their crafty veteran starters. Plus, Buchholz again threw all of 76 innings. I doubt replacing him Byrd or Wakefield or whoever would have been worth more than a win.

You’ve got me beat by 10 years. I’m thinking the 1995 Indians will finally win the pennant! :wink:

I don’t care if the Phillies go 0-162. They could trot around missing grounders and pantomime key plays from last year’s postseason and I’d be happy enough.

Is this what this is like?