Spring numbers and standings count right? Well, they sort of count if you happen to be a player in contention for the 25th spot on the roster I guess, but, what do standings mean in Grapefruit and Cactus League action?
Taking a look at the standings as of March 25, the Toronto Blue Jays have played the best ball out of every team in the league, posting a 18-4 record, percentage points ahead of the Tigers, and four wins better than the Athletics, enough to crown them playoff contenders though? Not so fast.
Since the 2006 season, the Kansas City Royals have had the best spring record by any American League team twice, in 2006 and 2011. What did those records do for the team come the regular season? Well, not much, as the Royals finished last in the AL Central in ’06, and 4th in the division in 2011. The Athletics of 2008 had an 18-8 spring, only to finish 3rd in the AL West that season. Good spring records have worked for a few teams since 2006, as the Giants had the best National League spring record in 2010, at 23-12, and ended up World Series Champs, but in reality, spring records mean nothing more than keeping a winning atmosphere in the clubhouse in the month of March.
The same philosophy can be said for spring numbers as well. I won’t go crazy with every spring stat the last 20 years, but a few names come to mind when thinking about spring success that didn’t translate into a regular season to remember.
The Orioles Jake Fox hit 10 homers in spring last season, but managed 2 for Baltimore in 27 games for the big club.
The Mariners’ Mike Wilson (who?) hit 8 homers in the spring of 2009 and didn’t make the club, in fact, he just got his feet wet in the majors in 2011, going 4-for-27.
The Tigers’ Ivan Rodriguez hit 8 spring homers in 2008, but only 5 long balls in the regular season.
The Pirates Brad Eldred hit 6 spring homers in 2007, enough to make the club on opening day, but only enough for 2 homers that season.
Two Blue Jays that stand out are Simon Pond, who made the Jays opening day roster after a strong 2004 spring, hitting four home runs, only to hit .163 in 16 games during the regular season, and has not seen big league life since. Outfielder Gabe Gross, who hit 8 long balls in the spring of 2005, only hit 1 out of the park in 40 games for the Jays that regular season.
Just for the record, the Jays’ Travis Snider this spring: 4 home runs and 15 RBI. (as of 3/24)
And the rest:
Several Phillies players are impressed with Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson and his new found success of going to the opposite field. [Ken Rosenthal, twitter]
Brett Lawrie’s .953 OPS last year at age 21 put him in some pretty good company, but is he bound for greatness? [Jayson Stark, ESPN]
After staining his oblique during a bullpen back on Feb, 23, Indians closer Chris Perez was back on the mound Saturday, retiring all three batters he faced in a minor league game. Manager Manny Acta expects to have Perez on his roster come opening day. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
The New York Mets have a big decision to make with starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey. His 11.49 ERA this spring along with a $5.68 million contract for this season will make it tough to trade or even release him. [New York Post]
The Angels and Bobby Abreu had a closed door meeting Saturday after Abreu made comments questioning manager Mike Scioscia’s prediction of 400 plate appearances this season. [LA Times]
The Reds face a big challenge with getting Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to sign long-term in Cincinnati, especially with their current TV deal with Fox Sports Ohio rumored to be worth $10 million per year through 2016. To compare, the Angels and Rangers are set to make $150 million a year with their new local TV contracts. [Cincinnati.com]
The Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija is still unsure if he will be in the Chicago rotation despite only having one bad start this spring. The Cubs still have question marks with their starting five. [Chicago Sun-Times]
In case you missed this, The Miami Marlins may want to re-think this theme song promo video that may actually keep some fans away from the ballpark. [You Tube]
The Blue Jays Adam Lind hit a home run and a triple in Saturday’s game against the Braves, but his biggest moment of the day was when the umpire said ball four! [John Lott, National Post]