Spring Training is just right around the corner and I’m so jacked for it to start. When those first Pitchers and Catchers report I’m ready. Ready to see the pictures and videos of the players. Ready to hear the sounds of Spring Training, pop of the glove as the players are warming up, spikes on the ground, coaches yelling out instructions and listening to fans talk about how this is theirs teams year.
If you are a baseball fan going to see your favorite team is great but don’t just stop at going to games. If you have a chance or opportunity to visit your teams practice field it’s a must do. In the past few years I have had the chance to go to several teams practice fields during Spring Training. Dodgers, White Sox, Mariners, Padres, Rangers, Pirates, Orioles and I hope to go see more over the next few years.
Ok now for the main reason for this post. As Pitchers and Catchers report and games start being played in a couple of weeks there will be a few things I will be looking out for.
Dodgers are and will always be my team so they are on this list for me every year. The bullpen was a huge issue in the playoffs last year and the Dodgers didn’t add any big names. They added a lot of project pieces and hopefully a few of them work out. The new front office made some big changes. Trading Matt Kemp away was a big gamble especially into your own division but they needed to make room for prospect Joc Pederson. On paper it looks like the Dodgers will have an improved defense especially at the SS position with Jimmy Rollins taking over for the departed Hanley Ramirez. The offense may not be as good but the starting rotation is one of the best in the game. Yasiel Puig will have to make a jump forward this year, on the field and in the clubhouse.
The Mariners missed the playoffs by 1 game last year and Cruz was brought in as the right handed power bat that would put them over the top. The big question will be if his power translates to an entire season playing at Safeco Field. If King Felix and the rest the starting rotation along with the bullpen can duplicate what they did last year then the Mariners could make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
They definitely upgraded their offense with signing free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Pablo is better at 3rd then most would think because of his size but should thrive hitting at Fenway. Hanley in left field could be a nightmare and will be a DH as soon as David Ortiz retires. The thing I will be watching is their starting rotation. A healthy Clay Buchholz and improved Justin Masterson will help. They did trade for Rick Porcello and Wade Miley but they are lacking the ace they will need once they get into the playoffs. Cole Hamels is still out there but it will cost them Blake Swihart or Mookie Betts and maybe more. Also what will they do with their logjam of outfielders?
It’s a 4 team race, sorry Twins. The Royals are the returning AL Champs minus James Shields. The White Sox loaded up signing Adam LaRoche, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera and traded for Jeff Samardzija. The Indians are the most underrated team in the Central, solid offense and great starting pitching. The Tigers won the Central 4 straight years but this year that streak may end. Scherzer is gone and Verlander isn’t who he used to be. Offense should still be decent, lost Hunter but added Cespedes. The biggest question for the Tigers is the health of Miguel Cabrera and will Victor Martinez be ready for Opening Day.
PACE OF PLAY
Something needs to change to bring back some of the younger fans. I’m all for keeping the batters in the box in between pitches and making sure the pitcher and batter are ready to go after coming back from commercials. Personally I would love to see more hustle from the players coming on and off the field. The way instant replay is done needs to be made over. Managers going out to waste time before they are let know to challenge a play or not needs to change. In my opinion once they step on the field the play should be challenged. The one thing I am 100% against is the time clock for the pitchers. I don’t like it, I don’t want to see it. I don’t mind it the minors so pitchers can get more used to picking up the pace.
So congrats to all you baseball fans out there, we made it through another offseason. Now it’s time for our 4 favorite words in the offseason: Pitchers and Catchers report!!