Here are several links from the past week that will make your spring-training Monday a bit more bearable:
- In “Hello Again, Old Friend,” Faith and Fear in Flushing’s Jason Fry says he had a “spring in his step” last Thursday afternoon, thanks to the Mets’ playing their first Grapefruit League game.
- David Schoenfield of ESPN SweetSpot offers up his best bets for over/under-selection win totals in the coming season. For example:
15. Royals: 81.5
14. Pirates: 83.5
13. Reds: 84.5
12. Giants: 86.5
11. Angels: 86.5
The oddsmakers are projecting some regression from the Royals, Pirates and Reds. One note on the Royals: From June 1 on, they had the second-best record in the majors behind the Dodgers. They’ve made some minor additions with the likes of Omar Infante and Norichika Aoki to help improve an offense that ranked 11th in the AL in runs scored. The concern: They allowed just 601 runs last year, the second-lowest total in the AL in the past two decades. They will likely allow more than that in 2014. Can the offense make up for it? I think so. I’ll take the over for the Royals.
- On a related note, Dave Gershman of Beyond the Boxscore asks why Kansas City, despite having young talent on the big-league roster, hasn’t signed on to the formula espoused by the Rays, Braves, and others who have signed these players to contract extensions:
I was particularly surprised with the way the Royals handled the off-season. Not because the signings of Jason Vargas and Omar Infante were bad, which they weren’t entirely, or because Norichika Aoki projects to be just slightly better than replacement. I was mostly shocked because the “one-year window to win” seemed to have caused Kansas City to stand pat on, when really the club’s best years might come shortly after 2014.
Because the Royals made it clear that Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are their guys, their future, and arguably their versions of Freedie Freeman and Andrelton Simmons, I was stunned that neither became topic of extension talk the way Atlanta’s young players did.
- Top prospect Miguel Sano will miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Schoenfield’s colleague Christina Kahrl says the injury to the power-hitting third baseman prematurely sours the 2014 mood for Twins fans.
- Fox Sports Ohio’s Hal McCoy writes that Joey Votto has taken note of some criticism of his approach at the plate with men on base but plans no changes:
“If I wasn’t producing and having a satisfying result in my overall game I could understand the complaints,” he said. “You know, overall, I think I had a successful year, despite the lack of one number (RBI). I like getting lost in an at-bat and getting the most out of every at-bat.”
Votto paused as he pulled on his cap Friday morning for a round of batting practice before an afternoon exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians, then said, “I get it. I get it. It’s OK. You know, it is only one year. I have a track record of success. Last season wasn’t a huge drop-off. There were some things missing, but that happens with all players.”
It was pointed out that hitters sometimes have no control over how a pitcher approaches a talented hitter like Votto, especially with runners on base. They pitch around him with pitches out of the strike zone. Is Votto supposed to get himself out by swinging at bad pitches?
“Some would like me to do that,” he said. “Yeah, some would.”
- In her maiden post at Crashburn Alley, Corrine Landrey offers up what may be the (only?) highlights of the Phillies’ season.
- Carl Pavano is retiring. The 38-year old native of New Britain, Conn., posted a 96 ERA+ in over 1,788 big-league innings over 14 seasons with five clubs.
- Josh Reddick climbed the right-field wall twice in a recent Cactus League game, robbing Michael Morse of two opposite-field home runs.
That’s it. Have a walk-off week!