With the first Grapefruit League game tomorrow and a lot to cover, it’s time to play (as Bill Lumbergh would say) “a little catch-up”. With that, let the Tomahawks fly:
The Dirt Dog (Trotter Nixon) is nursing a still-recovering back, so let’s hope that he doesn’t follow the path of his former Red Sox teammate and follow the Foulker out of town. Ask Big League Choo and he’d probably have different hopes for the health of Trotman’s surgically repaired herniated disk (he would make about $275K more on the MLB roster than in Buffalo), but we’ll fall on the side of bringing the most possible bodies North to Cleveland to ensure a solid start to 2007
Let me get this straight: First, Peralta grows 1 ½” at the age of 23? Then, his vision regresses to the point that he needs LASIK surgery to allow him to see the catcher’s sign before a pitch? If the next nugget that comes out is that his shoe size went up 2 ½ sizes, I’ll contact George Mitchell myself.
SI com’s John Donovan is very impressed with the Tribe v.2007, though he thinks the Indians’ window of opportunity is already closing. Forget that Westbrook is the only FA after this year (Byrd has a club option for ’08) and that the farm system is among the deepest, right? Actually, call me a hopeless optimist, but I’m holding out hope that the Indians will sign one of their Big 3 (Jake, Pronk, and Sabathia) players for sure (Pronk is my best guess) and possibly even two (imagine the message it would send if Sabathia was the other) this Spring.
Speaking of Sabathia, he’s making $17.75M over the last 2 years of his deal, so it’s not as if he’s playing out a contract that is paying him peanuts. The upcoming Zambrano negotiations could be interesting to watch to set a comparable bar (the others being Zito’s deal at the “Pack your bags, C.C.” end and Oswalt’s being at the “He’s going to be in that house he’s building for a while” end). Zambrano is going to be looking for a TON of money and knows that he’s the top FA pitcher after this year. Sabathia, on the other hand, hits the open market with Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland, John Lackey, Mike Maroth, and Oliver Perez (included because his agent is named Mike Fischlin) – among others.
There have been some awful baseball hats out there in the past few years, notably this one and this one; but their most redeeming quality is that they were never worn by anybody even close to a playing field (perhaps Wickman wore the camo one sitting in a tree stand). That’s what makes the new Spring Training hats so dreadful. They’re simply the normal hats with little splashes of color near the ears and at the bottom of the bill – the result is horrible. The comparable blatant attempt to sell more merchandise can be seen when the Cavaliers trotted out their “Hardwood Classics” jerseys to “honor” the 1986-1987 team. The same ’86-’87 team that went 31-51, right? And they’re not just trying to sell jerseys? Do they want to “honor” Phil Hubbard (as great as he was)? Or is it John Bagley? The greed and manipulation to sell more merchandise has gone beyond sickening.
Looking at that ’86-’87 notation for the Cavs, how great is it that baseball happens in one calendar year? In the NFL and NBA, you always have to specify which year you’re referring to. The ’86 Browns...which one? The one that went 8-8 in the 1985 calendar year, then lost to the Dolphins in January of 1986? Or the one that went 12-4 in the regular season in the 1986 calendar year and lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship in January of 1987? Even their official site isn’t sure.
Ken Rosenthal intimates that Chad Cordero is available, but the Nationals are looking for two high-end pitching prospects for him. Cordero could be a name to watch if there’s any more attrition in the Indians’ bullpen this Spring as the 25-year old Cordero is certainly a proven commodity (90 saves in 3 seasons). Seeing as how the Nationals’ ace is John Patterson (likely followed in the rotation by Mike O’Connor, Billy Traber, Shawn Hill, and Jason Bergman…you read those names correctly), Cordero is likely to see about 15 save opportunities – so he may be obtainable as the Nats come to that realization as Spring progresses.
In the same Rosenthal article linked above, he mentions Luis Rivas as a serious contender for the Tribe utility role. The more I read about Luna’s weight and Inglett’s inability to play SS, Rivas is looking more and more like a legitimate option. Though I know very little about Rivas’ defensive ability, his offensive numbers (career line of .262 AVG / .307 OBP / .383 SLG / .690 OPS in 1,884 career AB) are quite better than those of the man everyone holds as the ideal, Johnny Mac (career line of .236 AVG / .279 OBP / .311 SLG / .590 OPS).
In case you haven’t seen, Hafner is the new spokesman for FitWorks in Cleveland. He replaces the eminently replaceable Aaron Shea, who was probably the only 3rd string TE in the NFL in commercials.
Even though it’s Spring Training, even though the games mean nothing and these early games are simply glorified practice – it’s been a long winter. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer as each day passes. Let the Grapefruit League action begin!