Once in awhile there comes a move which proves a field day for analysts and a choice between a potential platinum mine and a potential dust bowl for the parties involved. The Padres are gambling that there’s a platinum mine in signing free agent first baseman and now-former Royals mainstay Eric Hosmer.
Wally Moon was probably the first Dodgers superstar strictly of Los Angeles. Arriving from the Cardinals for 1959 in a trade, the outfielder soon became a fan favourite for his smarts, his competence in the outfield, and his patented Moon Shots over the infamous left field high screen in the hideous (for baseball) Los Angeles Coliseum.
There will be no dry humping in the Mets’ bullpen this year if manager Mickey Callaway has anything to say about it. And, no, believe it or not, he’s not referring to players sneaking wives or girl friends into the pen for a little fully-clothed intimacy, either.
Spring training isn’t even a week old and there’s already someone calling it a career because a key part of his body has not just resigned its commission but gone AWOL thanks to injuries. Say hello and goodbye to Jarrod Parker, once a promising Athletic after moving there in a deal with the Diamondbacks. He’s finished. Says he. At 29.
It isn’t that simple now just to say, “Spring training is here!” Not with a nice handful of stories accompanying it, such as:
* The Major League Baseball Players’ Association has opened a training camp for unsigned free agents at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. They have also barred the press from it. (The last such camp, following the 1994 strike, had no such restriction.) That’s the way to make friends and influence people who think (reasonably, in several cases) that enough of these unsigned players seek contracts above and beyond their actual competence and actual future projections.
On the threshold of pitchers and catchers reporting to open spring training, one prominent pitcher has found a way through the actual or allegedly paralytic free agency market into a Cubs uniform. Yu Darvish, last seen being nuked by the Astros in Game Seven of the World Series, has signed for six years and $125 million. Some call it a bargain, considering Darvish projected to six and $154 million on expected performance. Others call it a big risk. There may be a little of both involved.
The next time you think baseball is as simple a game as it looks, you might want to ponder Mark Appel. The former Houston pitching prospect who went number one in the 2013 draft, while the Astros performed the rebuild that culminated in last fall’s World Series conquest, is stepping away from the game.
If he stays there, as Bleacher Report notes in a striking story about the 26-year-old righthander, Appel will become the third number one pick never to see even an hour in the Show outside spring training, in hand with Steve Chilcott and Brien Taylor. And it’ll be for the same reason—injuries.
Shea Stadium’s final season began ten years ago. If ever a ballpark were conceived in sin yet born to provide pleasure running the range from farce to finery, the Big Shea—as we Met fans since the day they were born called it—was it. It was long years since I’d last sat in the park, but whatever the beauties of its successor Citi Field something precious died when the last portion of the park came down at last.
I’m pleading parental prerogative in congratulating Vladimir Guerrero first among four new Hall of Famers. Nothing at all against Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and Jim Thome, all of whom I have argued before deserve the honour. But Vlad the Impaler was my son, Bryan’s, hero growing up.
Doug Harvey, who died Saturday at 87, was a conscientious umpire who insisted on getting the calls right, not fast. He helped usher in the end of umpires anticipating calls after an incident in his rookie National League season, 1962, with Stan Musial at the plate and two outs.
Harvey called strike three on a pitch that looked like it would cross the plate but in fact broke wide of it. Musial didn’t flinch. He called for his glove from a Cardinals’ bat boy and, without turning around, chided Harvey, “Young fellow, I don’t know what league you came from, but we use the same plate. It’s seventeen inches wide.”