03/11 Spring Training Thoughts


I was watching Saturday’s game – Cubs/Royals, a world series preview if I’ve ever seen one – and I was utterly confused by the uniforms.

– why have both teams wear their blue uniform tops? That’s amazingly confusing.
– And they’re not even their actual road uniforms – they’ve got a weird white/red (or blue) stripe under the arm down the side. Is that some new heat vent?

I guess I could google it, but…the moment’s passed.

The one answer I got out of that game is Prior’s renting an apartment in Des Moines this year. Not an extended stay hotel, but something where he can camp out till All Star Break. Maybe by then, he won’t still be throwing 86 and maybe he’ll be able to control his fastball. No one’s saying he’s cut from the major league roster yet, but if he’s pitching in minor league games and he has minor league stuff, then he’s probably a duck. Or a Iowa Cub. Or whatever they AA team is called this year.

It looks like we’ve got 3 spots up for grabs, since Theroit’s made the team (and playing a bit of everywhere – he’s Neifi now, and I hope that’s a good thing)

SP5: Miller, Cotts, and Guzman’s the one they’re talking up. Unless Miller falls on his face, I think they’ll give him the chance to start the season, since that puts of the permanent decision. I’m still believing Miller’s done, but I’m not totally on the Guzman bandwagon yet.

Backup OF: It seemed to be Pagan almost by default, but he’s not coming off a good year and didn’t seem to be a good defender – BProspectus’ numbers argue the other way, but I think you could do better and need to do with what’s starting out there. Buck Coats isn’t much better, he’s a below average SS who got pushed to CF, but he’s hitting well enough to get a chance, and he’s still on the 40 man roster for some reason. Pie’s not here unless there’s an injury.

25th Man: Pinella talked about going with 11 pitchers, which would make this a reserve infielder (Cedeno? NO! Scott Moore?), but today he seems to have floated back to 12. Which would probably means Cotts or Wuertz, and both guys really should be making the team. You can’t do that with 12 unless Miller or someone else doesn’t, so 12 it is.

No feel for the batting order. No feel for the rotation – Z’s one, but the next four could be a jumble. I don’t think they’ll start setting it down till next week.

white whale caught


Took long enough. It was clearly the different player options and injury protection they put in there.

All sorts of wacky things start to happen if he gets 425 PA or 100 starts, but let’s assume no. He should be used to spot people versus right handers and an effective pinch hitter. Note that he’s not sure if he’ll make the start of spring training – it seem possible he could start the year on the DL while rehabbing his Achilles tendon/bone spur injury.

11 hitters on the 25, as of now…

CA Barrett
1B Lee
2B DeRosa
SS Cesar
3B A-Ram
LF Murton
CF Soriano
RF Jacque

CA Blanco
1B Ward
UT Theroit
OF Pagan
OF Floyd

Floyd and Ward are lefties off the bench and kinda the same type of player. I wonder if they still would’ve signed Ward if they knew they were getting Floyd? Then again, they’ve been trying to get Floyd since day 1, so that couldn’t have been a surprise.

While I’ve still got him on the list, I think Pagan’s not making the team. Including the three starters, they’ve got five corner infielders and no one with center field experience on the team. If they’re telling the truth about trying Theroit out there, that’s great, but that also means he’s not working at SS and there’s no backup there.

(off topic: if Theroit’s the backup CF, doesn’t that mean Pie’s going for his spot? that’s gonna be a war.)

If Cesar went down during a game, DeRosa or Theroit could shift over and take his place, and they could call up Cedeno immediately after, but I believe they’ll instead keep Ronny or Tomas Perez on the 25 man roster just in case. This is one of the points where people who actually manage the game differ in how they do things than people who just watch (who’s take that risk.)

Cesar actually did play full seasons till 2005, but he’s fragile and he’s a guy you’d like to pinch hitter for, so from a tactical standpoint, I could understand keeping one of the no-hit SS as the 25 man. I’d actually prefer it to be Tomas Perez, because Cedeno needs to get some consistent at bats at AAA to get better and get evaluated. The potential problem, as it was with Neifi and Macias, is Tomas Perez is best used as the 25th guy, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be the first man off the bench.

I picked up this years Bill James Handbook and they’ve included the manager breakdowns, which are interesting, but like James said in last year’s introduction, they’re only a start. Maybe it’s just because of where the Cubs are right now, but I think they’d be improved if they included managers who didn’t manage in 2006 but would be considered for future jobs – we’re not going to read Pinella’s tendencies till we’ve seen a year of them. More specific to this situation, I’d like more breakdowns of pinch hitting – what hitter was the first off the bench, and how did he do. Some managers will use their best guys first, and some will hold them back for a key opportunity and use leftover hitters instead (like Dusty). It’s a NL only thing, but it’s a major difference in strategy.