“Baseball’s Back–Spring Training Takes”
A cold rain fell across Southern California as pitchers and catcher reported to Cactus League camps in Arizona, home of the Padres-Dodgers-Angels. There was sunshine everywhere in spring training, regardless of the rosters, or last year’s records.
A look see at the storylines that will permeate Peoria and Padresville.
PADRES…..Are you excited, frustrated, looking forward to the next six weeks in the Catcus League. The Padres have done virtually nothing to improve on a 96-loss season from a year ago, but their game plan remains in place.
Garrett Richards, the ex Angels won’t pitch till late August. Greg Garcia is a journeyman infielder at best. Ian Kinsler is a solid multi-position 14-year veteran who has hit (248HRs) and is a (.271) lifetime hitter.
Any of them really fix the shortcomings of this roster today? Didn’t think so.
But remember, there are still free agents out there to be signed, though I think its absurd to think Bryce Harper or Manny Machado is coming in to change the personality of the team, not at 30M a year over the next 7-to-10 years.
Remember this franchise added Eric Hosmer at 1st base last spring just as camp opened. And before that, they traded for Craig Kimbrel out of Atlanta, on the eve of the opening of season.
So its is reasonable to think, a short term rental of Mike Moustakas for 3rd base makes sense. That’s a (.251-147 HR) career guy, who if he joins Kinsler on board, would add more veteran power to a lineup. All the better for the likes of Wil Myers-Hunter Renfroe-Franmill Reyes. Think of it being a much better lineup.
But as pitchers went thru their first bullpen sessions, there are so many questions about legitimate starters for this team. Just like there are so many questions, about which of the cadre of young arms is ready to take the next step up, like the kid left-handers,Joey Lucchessi and Eric Lauer did at the end of the season.
The southpaws will be starters 1-2 the opening week of the season.
Then the realistic questions with a long list of other arms. Determine for me, show them (Andy Green-AJ Preller), if you are ready to pitch at this level.
Is Bryan Mitchell a washout, or is the (2.19-ERA) he delivered in September the maturation and polish they had gone searching for most of last season? Prospect or suspect?
Is Logan Allen ready to step up from AAA-where he pitched well down the stretch, after being rock-solid in years prior, moving thru the farm chain?
It has been a long 2-and-a half years for Calvin Quantrill, the high paid first round pick. He has not dominated at any level, but has gotten better the second half of each season he’s pitched. Don’t know if his stuff is major league ready?
Luis Perdomo has been a riddle, who has regressed since his debut as a Rule 5-arm a couple of years ago. Nagging injuries may be part of it. The ability to take instruction could he part of it. Or the failure to develop additional stuff could be the real reason he’s never gotten back to where he was just 3-summers back.
Chris Paddack may have the most upside of any body, and he has dominated for 18-months since coming back from elbow surgery right after they got him. But jumping from AA-ball to Petco Park will take more than a leap of faith. This will be fun to watch.
Matt Strahm did so well as a left-handed setup guy in the bullpen, but he is a former starter in Kansas City, and still might warrant a sot at the rotation. I’d keep him in the bullpen as a situational guy.
Robbie Erlin has been in and out of the rotation and bullpen the last couple of years. An insurance policy more than anything else, and everybody has to have a 5th starter. Only time will tell where his value lies, and lots of that depends on what the other young arms do or don’t do.
Jacob Nix was so young, and aside from one good outing, got lit up (7.00-ERA) so there is a learning curve there, but he is young with potential..
Brett Kennedy might have been (10-0) at El Paso, but his (6.75-ERA) struggles were constant once he got to San Diego. On the outside looking in.
Michael Baez shows flashes of dominance, and chunks of youth….to be determined starter or reliever?
That’s 10-young arms in the running for the final 3-spots in the starting rotation.
And further back, down road, in the system, other high picks, Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers, McKenzie Gore. But those are names to contemplate for another Cactus League spring.
Part of me feels like screaming, they don’t have enough proven pitchers. Part of me feels like screaming, they got lots of good kids, somebody will surface to grab these spots, yay.
A couple of years ago, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Mets faced a similar series of questions, trying to rally the franchise. But then Noah Syndegaard, Jacob deGrom, Steve Matz, Zach Wheeler almost all arrived simultaneously. All of sudden, very good rotation.
Six weeks from now, we’ll find out if AJ Preller should have traded an outfield bat and prospects for some type of starting pitching like Mike Leake or Corey Kluber, or should have spent some free agent money for a Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi type of starter.
Baseball’s back and hope springs eternal in spring, everywhere, even in Padresville, where you think the decade of losing is about to end, if the kid pitchers deliver us answers to questions.