Opening Day is right around the corner, and while some things still remain a mystery (how does Jermaine Dye not have a job yet?), most of the pieces are fitting into place for teams. So far, it has been a quite spring with no significant injuries coming from the games. The biggest news has been the following of phenoms Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward. While it looks like Strasburg will start the season in the minors, Heyward was informed that he will be with the Braves when they open the season next week.
Stay tuned for TCO's Season Preview, coming soon!
As a fan of the Chicago White Sox, I never thought I'd say this to the Minnesota Twins, but thank you! For once, one of the elite baseball players will not have to undergo a bidding war between New York and Boston for his services while in his prime. Joe Mauer has signed an 8-year contract extension with the Twins valued at $184 million.
While I'm not so sure it's a great financial deal for Minnesota (after letting Ortiz, Hunter, Santana, etc. leave, they decide to break the bank on a catcher who will need to ward off the injury bug like few have before him to earn those late years), it's great for baseball in that a "small market" team kept its superstar for the long term without needing to resort to a salary cap.
Some fantasy baseball writers offer great stats but the writing is so dry it's akin to eating a peanut butter sandwich with a side of saltines while washing it down with a tall glass of sand. Then there's ESPN's Matthew Berry, aka The Talented Mr. Roto. Berry possesses plenty of narcissism, but one can't deny his witty rants on all things baseball. More importantly, Berry ably mixes good data with good writing, so studying up for your fantasy draft can actually be (gasp!) enjoyable.
Reason #31 why you should listen to your dad when he tells you to work on your fielding drills: Hank Blalock, a two-time All-Star who finished with 25 home runs last year, is only 29 years old but was forced to sign a minor league contract with the Rays, hoping for a good spring and some at bats as a DH on the major league club.
That's right, even in the post-steroids era, most clubs don't have a place for a guy who is limited to DH and maybe a little first base no matter how many home runs he can hit. It's the same reason that Frank Thomas stopped playing a year or two earlier than he would have wanted. Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and other "professional hitters" didn't exactly have a dozen teams bidding for them despite plenty of talent left on the offensive side. A 25-man roster might seem like a lot, but when almost half of them are pitchers nowadays, there is simply no room for an inflexible player who is little more than a pinch hitter when interleague games begin.
The perfect counter-example to Blalock is Pedro Feliz. Feliz is a 34-year-old third baseman with similar power as Blalock but a much worse career OBP (and subsequently a worse OPS). Thanks to Feliz's reputation as a solid glove man, however, he has never had trouble keeping or finding a job. The result? Feliz signed a 1-year, $4.5 million deal with Houston two weeks before Christmas while the younger Blalock just signed his deal now and will need to reach some incentives just to eclipse $1 million this year. Kids, go take some more ground balls!
Wondering what to do with David Wright when your fantasy draft comes along in a few weeks? The Hardball Times examines Wright's total loss of power in 2009 and fails to find much reason to expect a jump back to the 30 HR season you're used to seeing from him. If you still want to believe in Wright, Rob Neyer from ESPN.com cites a Baseball Prospectus article which calls Wright's 2009 season unprecedented and suggests a return to the "norm" in 2010. Neyer wisely questions if the norm should change since the 2009 season should be taken into consideration as much as the others.
Weird. ESPN.com posted a Page 1 article about this year's Mariners and how team chemistry was a major factor in assembling the current squad. This is the team that traded for Milton Bradley - a player with a terrible talent-to-attitude ratio. It will be interesting to see how the Seattle experiment plays out. Everyone else seems happy as can be, so if Bradley can't fit in with his pals from the Northwest, then he can't fit in anywhere. Somehow I'm guessing it won't be a quiet spring training for Seattle fans.