An artificial deadline expires, costing no one anything.
High noon came and went, and there was no news, no actual historical act, no splendiferous cashgasm that would leave Cardinals fans basking in the safe, fuzzy, warm knowledge that nothing was going to change, ever.
An assemblage of prospects, vagabonds, and tough-luck stories, but some are sure to stick.
Come the opening of every camp, there's always going to be some wiggle room for a non-roster player or two to make the club. But who has the best shot as we just get started, and/or who's worth noting for his own sake? Starting with the AL, let's look at the names you might want to note in the inevitable spring training boxscores and the equally inevitable camp rumors to come.
How can we miss baseball when it never really goes away?
“Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.” —Dorothy Parker
It's pitchers and catchers Monday, and by happy calendrical coincidence it's also Valentine's Day as well. Naturally, the gutters are choked with slush, at least here in Chicago, lending something physical to suggest the inevitable tortured metaphors about thawing and renewal, eternity and change, commitment and professions of love. Love in its splendor, love of baseball, love of someone special. Love of being able to feel all of your toes. You know, the basics.
Baseball's trio of dugout noobs have followed very different paths to their skippering slots, but what does the future hold?
Yesterday's column and my comments about the increasing importance of staff management are my cue to touch on what we do know about the three genuinely new skippers. The first of them is an ex-pitcher with no managerial experience, but someone who will be coming to the job with plenty of management experience.
They're anything but 12 angry men, but is their arrival significant or just proof of MLB's commitment to recycling?
“When you're a manager all the worries of the team become your worries." —Al Lopez “You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment.” —Alvin Toffler
Catching tandems and managerial tactics run up against limited rosters and slim pickings.
I've been arguing for a few years now that a kind of tactical stasis has become the rule of the day on offense, in part because of the foreshortened rosters teams stick themselves with as a result of the 12-man pitching staff. One consequence has been the decline or increasing rarity of stable platoons. It's fairly hard to build all that many platoons in the first place, with rosters limited to three non-catcher reserves on most American League teams, and four in the National.
That's not to say there isn't plenty of pursuit of platoon advantages among contemporary major-league skippers. You can still have the floating platoon guy, the player who might be the adaptable righty-batting tweener or just an outright thumper. The Rockies' Ryan Spilborghs didn't platoon in right or left — instead he platooned in both, splitting time with Brad Hawpe and Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez, and making two-thirds of his 78 starts against lefties. Marcus Thames platooned for the Yankees, making 44 of 57 starts against lefties, but he wasn't paired up with any one player, as his lineup assignments drifted between DH and the corners.
Owners are in the news for all the wrong reasons, and just when the CBA re-enters the picture.
What time of year is it? Wait, is it CBA season already? Maybe so, because when pitchers and catchers report to camps in Arizona and Florida, we're already coming down to short time for the current agreement between 30 mega-wealthy operators and the MLBPA.
Yet, how can we tell that 'tis the season, when the snows are still piling up, yet we have no war of words to heat things up? In today's day and age, we're not getting the brinksmanship to which we had become accustomed as a run-up to full-fledged labor wars. Instead, we get polite quips about ongoing process.
The Angels didn't get what they wanted, but does that mean they're going away?
Los Angeles gives one the feeling of the future more strongly than any city I know of. A bad future, too, like something out of Fritz Lang's feeble imagination. --Henry Miller Usually, criticisms of the state of affairs in Southern California hone in on well-worn complaints, like superficiality in achievement or personality, or a strangling inability to get anywhere despite all sorts of expense, or its lack of a coherent, organizing center. Or diseased bats that menace all who come in contact with them. And that's just the Angels.
Consider general manager Tony Reagins' lot as we head towards pitchers and catchers and the opening of camps in just a few short weeks. After all sorts of speculation, and after so many busy winters in past seasons, the Halos wound up with no Carl Crawford, and no Adrian Beltre. There was no late, spoiling cameo as the mystery third contestant in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. There were -- initially -- no major trades for major stars who were on the move, not for Dan Uggla or Zack Greinke or Adrian Gonzalez. Up until a very short time ago, even the Dodgers, purportedly prostrated by McCourt squabbling, managed a more dynamic winter by re-inking Ted Lilly and adding Juan Uribe to their infield. In contrast, the Angels settled for letting people leave, while inking a pair of veteran lefty relievers to not-inconsiderable contracts. Between that and the anticipation that Kendry Morales would come back and bop, it made for fairly thin fare to make it through the winter with.