I am not sure how you are faring this "winter" but out here in the Bay Area, it has been pretty tough to tell it even is winter.
Oh, we have had some rain: maybe a week's worth since Thanksgiving. Which makes this whole winter thing seem extra odd, for it snowed pretty well over the Thanksgiving holiday in the Lake Tahoe area giving the illusion of a wet winter and great snow pack.
But, as I said, since, pretty much nada. Which again is odd for a year ago now, there was around 19 feet (yeah, feet!) of snow around the same house. There was enough that the street signs on the corners were covered, and such that we had to have the deck on the house reinforced after bearing the load of all that snow.
Well, yesterday, where I live, it was warm enough for me to leave the back door open so the dogs could meander in and out and lounge in the sun all afternoon.
Of course, over the same last few days the workouts have begun in the various spring camps. In a week I will be venturing to Phoenix for LABR and a handful of spring games, but in the mean time, I have gotten enough buzz and posts and tweets that I know spring is here. At least for baseball.
So, here my my ten thoughts to remind us that the ritual and routine have begun again. And, well, though the names might have changed, in most cases the principles are familiar.
- Rick VandenHurk, Daniel Cabrera, and Jamey Wright signed contracts. Actually, these guys--well, VandenHurk and Cabrera--represent the worst in our unrealized hope for the next big pitching thing. VandenHurk is still only 27, but, well, the best he can muster is 9-13, 4.49 at Norfolk last year, while Cabrera was 0-1, 6.55 over 11 innings at Arizona (no minors last year). As for Wright? Well, he was maybe a career best 2-3, 3.13 last year pitching in relief for the Mariners, but a career mark of 85-121, 4.93, with a 1.56 WHIP. And all three get signed? Go figure.
- Manny is back. Not only is he back, but he is back in Oakland? At least among Jemile Weeks and Coco Crisp, Manny and his dreads will fit in. And, well, every year some guy like Manny signs, in fact last year, Manny signed with the Rays, right? Of course, he still has his 50 game suspension, and is making the MLB minimum, but if this is the Athletics best hope for a guy who can hit the ball out of the yard, I guess it might be a long season at the Coliseum.
- Grady Sizemore is hurt. Second day of workouts, and Grady has an abdominal strain and will miss Opening Day. Yawn. And, you were expecting something different?
- Questions about Neftali Feliz status abound. Will Neftali make it as a starter? Shades of Jonathan Papelbon? Every year there is some closer whom a team wants to convert, and every year it fails, save in the case of John Smoltz. Not that relievers don't make it as starters (Alexi Ogando) and starters don't make it as relievers, which is most minor league hurlers who make it to the Show. But, it is crazy for Texas to take a gig away from a perfectly effective, and young closer, irrespective of the presence of Joe Nathan. I mean, look at the American League closers at large and tell me this is a good move?
- Is Chase Utley healthy? See Grady Sizemore. And, even if Utley is healthy, he is no longer a power hitter like Dan Uggla. Sad.
- Is Yu Darvish the best player on earth? Every year there is a prospect like this: a player who was successful in foreign leagues, and comes here and is the next coming. And, Darvish could be good, but I always think of the guys who tried to justify paying $35 for Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12, 4.40). Nice investment guys. Almost as good as Hideki Irabu. In other words, give the guy a year before you dump the big bucks.
- Is Jeremy Hellickson better than Max Scherzer? OK, so I stole this one from Lord Zola, but how much does it matter? Both are on good teams, both are likely to approach 200 innings, both are young and improving. How much better or worse will your team likely be with one or the other? Lighten up, ok?
- Will Lance Berkman hit a million homers again? .301-31-94 last year was a great comeback for the now 36-year old, but he no longer has that Albert Pujols guy hitting behind him. And, he hit 39 homers over the previous two seasons. In the Fantasy Baseball Guide, which is on sale now at your local bookstore, and to which a bunch of the Masterballers contribute, there were exactly ten predictions under "Picks and Pans" for Berkman. All ten were pans.
- Will Bryce Harper hit a million homers for the first time. Yes, but not in 2011 for Washington. Give the guy till he turns 21 maybe before you start with the totally unrealistic expectations. (See Eric Hosmer and Brandon Belt and Mike Trout of 2011.)
- Is Stephen Strasburg better than Matt Moore? Maybe, but again, these are youngsters. Surely, if you are in a keeper league, both are great properties to own, and either could be fun to own in 2012. But, don't draft either as more than a #3 starter, if that. They are rookies, and neither has a full major league campaign. If DiceK starts his major league career after playing professional ball in Japan for a bunch of years, and then struggles coming to the states, why would the expectations for either Strasburg or Moore be higher.
In other words, as we all get ready for those wonderful drafts coming up, be realistic.