Only one more day of the offseason remains, fair Blankards. Tomorrow, pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training, followed by their fielding and hitting brethren throughout next week. Get ready, because it’s going to be bananas.
Exhibition games don’t actually start until March and until then you can expect to hear a lot of “Best Shape of My Life” stories, a lot of “It Looked Really Good Coming Out of His Arm” stories and a lot of “I Think We Really Have a Chance” stories. Essentially, you’re going to hear a lot of bullsh[Getting Blanked].
I am, of course, not complaining about the return of professional baseball. Even the most mundane video of players running crossovers and pitchers running off the mound to field ground balls is better than the cold, desolate depths of the offseason, but we’re still a long way away from baseball that actually matters.
Allow me, then to indulge you with some links. I have been writing these every weekend since the Winter Meetings and I have to tell you, I could not be more excited at the prospect of professional baseball players returning to their places of work.
Venerable knuckleballer Tim Wakefield announced his retirement from baseball yesterday at age 45 from JetBlue Park, Boston’s new Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. Once a failed outfield prospect in the Pirates system, Wakefield carved out a rather fantastic career despite owning a fastball that topped out around 75 MPH and practicing a trade whose heyday came about 20 years earlier.
Still excited about Spring Training? Get ready for roughly 400 more tweets like this one from Hank Schulman about Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito switching lockers. Zito apparently felt closed-in in his corner locker; Timmy does not have the same qualms. Scintillating!
The Rangers have been trying to unload Koji Uehara all offseason to no avail. Well it looks like they may finally have…availed. The A’s and Rangers are reportedly close to a deal that would send the Japanese righthander Northwest. Uehara can be counted on strike people out and generally be awesome, but he does tend to give up a lot of homeruns. Moving to Oakland should help that. There’s also this:
Sticking with the A’s, they are still pursuing Manny Ramirez who they could sign in the next few days. The deal will likely be for slightly more than the league minimum of $480,000. Manny would be allowed to participate in Cactus League action if a deal is consummated, but he would be barred from playing in the regular season until at least early June due to his suspension for PED use.
Still with the A’s, Tom Laverty of TTF Baseball speculates that the Yoenis Cespedes signing had more to do with attendance than anything. I’m not sure I agree as studies have shown that the only thing that truly helps attendance is on-the-field performance, but it’s an interesting perspective nonetheless.
Another great thing about Spring Training: Players coming to camp overweight. Michael Pineda apparently gained 20 pounds this offseason and now weights a gentlemen’s 280. Egads!
The Yankees are reportedly close to signing both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez (we think), but have to wait for the Burnett trade to be finalized early next week.
Speaking of the Yankees, they released Japanese lefthander Hideki Okajima due to his failing of a physical.
House of the Bluebird takes a look at Adam Lind and askes what we can expect from him in 2012.
Dennis McHawes from Redbird Rants asks if there are too many “IF’s” for the 2012 Cardinals.
And finally, Jose Bautista doing Spring Training-type things and being all manly and whatnot: