We’re within throwing distance of the three opening days that the MLB has chosen to hold this year. Baseball Illuminati wonders what the MLB is thinking by spreading out the games the way they are. Maybe they have some contrived sense that there will be greater income from three separate nights of primetime baseball? In any case, I can’t help but feel that Rangers-Astros is probably the worst game to open the season with. I mean, we don’t even get to see Josh Hamilton or Jed Lowrie (two of our favorite punching bags here at BI).
You think about some of the moves that teams have made to improve this off-season, and none of those moves make you think about the Rangers or the Astros. The only significant thing that either of these teams did this off-season was to lose their best players (Hamilton, Lowrie, respectively). Neither team looks to be a serious playoff contender, and the fans for these two teams seem extremely localized. In my opinion, the natural decision for an opening day game would be to include one of the Yankees, Phillies, Giants or Red Sox (some of the largest nationalized fan bases in the game). To put the league’s idiocy into perspective beyond the first night, they don’t have the newly improved, best-odds-in-vegas Blue Jays playing their first game until the THIRD day of the season (against the Clevelanders, by the way).
Letting bygones be bygones, this season is shaping up to be one filled with new upstart teams and the fall of old bastions. The Indians, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Royals have all improved greatly, while the Angels, Giants, Braves and Nationals have all made significant moves that will allow them to continue to win.
We see teams like the Yankees and Phillies, both winners of the World Series within the last 5 years, appearing lost without a trace. The Yankees went into spring training with an aging team that seemed to be prepared to go on one last victory lap of the American League. However, after multiple injuries to stars like Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, the club will have to look to guys like Juan Rivera and Travis Hafner to hold down the fort. Both players have had moderate success in the major leagues, but no team starting these two for any period of time will be a real competitor. The Phillies, on the other hand, went into spring as a team who looked to play out the grind this season and wait to regroup when a few more prospects were ready for the bigs. With Halladay’s diminished velocity and Michael Young making a futile attempt to be a starting third bagger, the Phillies look no closer to returning to the playoffs than the Red Sox, who are another story entirely.
There’s also this hilarious Biogenesis stuff floating around the Miami Times and the MLB indicating that some of the league’s largest stars had purchased illicit performance enhancing drugs (other than Gio Gonzalez, of course, because a National WOULD NEVER try and get a competitive edge). Word through the grapevine is that the league is looking at every possibility and trying their hardest to find a reason to suspend
PED plagued wunderplayer Ryan Braun for his positive test near the end of the 2011 season which he coincidentally won the MVP for.
Is the steroid issue really as big as fans seem to make it? The consensus seems to be that drugs are bad, but do they really have that large of an influence? Would Barry Bonds have broken Hank Aaron’s home run record? Probably not, but it’d be ignorant to believe that he would in no way be a good player. There are skills required in baseball that cannot be influenced by drugs (you’re wasting your time with those deer antlers, Melk) including: Kick-assery, raw-ocity, 5-tool-ability and of course the infamous Cliff-lee-a-maz-a-bility (Cliff Lee happens to have the most of this. Cliff Lee freakin’ rocks).
Oh yeah, John Danks went on the DL today. I freakin’ hate John Danks. John Danks is kind of like the Luke Scott of pitchers. Screw John Danks.
Looks like Hanley Ramirez could be out for up to two months, according to Ken Gurnick over at MLB.com.
LA Times has the latest on oft-injured Tommy Hanson of the Angels, who left a spring training game early today.
From Scott Lewis at Getting Blanked, words on Chone Figgins being released by the Marlins yesterday. How grand, Chone.
Andrew Stoeten at Drunk Jays Fans has a short bit on Lou Pinella being a bit behind the times.
Apparently Jeff Francis is still a thing. Really?
Apparently Scott Kazmir is a thing too as he looks to pencil in as the 5th starter for the Clevelanders this season. I knew going to that 50′s diner tonight was going to set things in motion.
Perennial garbage Bleacher Report has come up with a fun way to take a stab at who will lead each team in one of the most irrelevant stats in baseball! Nope, not home runs.
Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors passes along that Roy Oswalt is working out and looks to pitch for a contender. Is a contender going to sign him after last year? No.
Apparently there’s a scheduling conflict next September between the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens, who play at home on the same night early in the month; an inconvenience exacerbated by the fact that they share a parking lot. The Orioles seem to think they’ll still be in contention by this point and that every game will matter. HA!
This has been your weekly Cult Think Tank. Welcome to the Cult.