Two posts in 1 week!!
Intra-Squad games are done. The real exhibition season begins. Then of course, the WBC starts and fraks everything up.
I’m of two minds on the WBC. I kinda like the idea of getting the All-Stars from different countries together. It will bring attention to the sport we all love, and expose some lesser known players to a larger audience.
What I don’t like is what I am sure most don’t, the fact that players don’t have the time to practice and play with their own team. This is especially a concern with those players who are joining new organizations. A big part of ST is team building, getting to know your new teammates, as is getting in synch with the expectations of your manager and coaches. While a new manager in baseball is not going to install a new system like in other sports, there still needs to be the beginnings of a relationship. So the Mets missing JJ Putz and K-Rod for a few weeks, well, it kinda sucks.
In any event, the positive part is that the back-ups will get more reps. Fernando Martinez (F! folks, not F-Mart) will see a lot of time in the outfield. Tatis will probably play some third with DW being on Team USA. Other pitchers will get reps in the pen with K-Rod and Putz being away. So those guys will get a chance to show what they can do. It doesn’t mean they will make the team out of ST, but it could help them get a call-up later in the year, or perhaps increase their trade value.
In any event, I am getting more and more excited about the coming season. I am encouraged by reports that Luis Castillo appears to be in better shape and is showing some life in his step and bat. I still abhor the idea of him leading off though. I am concerned about Redding, though he is supposed to throw off a mound today or tomorrow. I am not concerned about Freddy Garcia yet. It is early folks, let’s wait and see. I think he could be a key player this year. If he is able to come close to his pre-injury numbers, the rotation will be significantly improved. And if Livan Hernandez is healthy, he is added depth in AAA (I’m not holding my breath on that one btw). I just think Jonathan Niese needs some more seasoning. I really hope he is not the #5. If he is, then a lot has gone wrong regarding Garcia, Redding and Livan. That will not be good.