Spring training reports

Spring training!  Hope springs anew.  Even for the Washington Nationals, last place though they were last year.  They stocked up on promising young pitchers and signed the aging future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez to catch them.  And the pitching phenomenon Steven Strasburg they drafted looks amazing, though he will start in the minors, as is right and fitting.  Here is an account of his first outing:

Facing a collection of Nationals players likely to start the year in Class AA and AAA, Strasburg struck out nine and allowed a bloop single, three walks and no runs in 4 1/3 innings. He threw 79 pitches; batters hit two of them into the outfield and swung and missed at 11.

The third batter of the game, outfielder Marvin Lowrance, watched the second pitch Strasburg threw him, a 90-mph change-up that started below his belt and dove down to his knees. The umpire called a strike. Lowrance turned around to catcher Sean Rooney and asked, “What was that?”

via Stephen Strasburg dominates in first start in minor league camp – washingtonpost.com.

A 90 mph change-up? What was that, indeed? Anyway, what I’d like to know from you fellow baseball fans around America is how YOUR team is shaping up during Spring Training. I’d like to hear about the Brewers, the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Royals, and as many others as I can.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Red Sox are looking decent with stalwarts, Youkilis, Pedroia, Elsbury, and Drew, a promising new third-baseman, Beltre, the catching combination of V. Martinez and Varitek along with the pitching rotation of Becket, Lester, Lackey, Matsuzaka, Bucholz, and Wakefield.

    The trouble is that the Yankees, also, look very good, if not better.
    The difference in the long run will be coaching, team morale and will.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Red Sox are looking decent with stalwarts, Youkilis, Pedroia, Elsbury, and Drew, a promising new third-baseman, Beltre, the catching combination of V. Martinez and Varitek along with the pitching rotation of Becket, Lester, Lackey, Matsuzaka, Bucholz, and Wakefield.

    The trouble is that the Yankees, also, look very good, if not better.
    The difference in the long run will be coaching, team morale and will.

  • DonS

    I follow three teams. The Phillies are my boyhood team, as I grew up in the Philadelphia area. I suffered through many a losing season until they finally won their very first World Series after nearly a 100 year history in 1980! They are looking very good this year, having signed Roy Halladay to a three year contract, as long as he stays healthy. If Cole Hamels rounds back into shape this year, they will be tough to beat in the NL East.

    I also closely follow the Angels, in my adopted home of Orange County, CA. I love the concept of team that Mike Scioscia, one of the finest managers in baseball, has drilled into the Angels, and they will be very solid again this year, even though Peter’s Red Sox signed away their ace, John Lackey this winter. Their rotation is solid, and their bullpen should be good, with Scott Shields back and healthy this year, and the addition of Fernando Rodney. Matsui will supply a power bat. Of course, the Mariners greatly improved themselves this year as well, so it should be a good race in the AL West.

    I mildly follow the Dodgers, as well, but will always root for the Phillies or the Angels over them should they meet. The Dodgers have off-field issues with their ownership, as owner Frank McCourt is in a bitter divorce. This has affected their budget, and there are some serious holes in their lineup this year. They should be competitive, but not spectacular.

  • DonS

    I follow three teams. The Phillies are my boyhood team, as I grew up in the Philadelphia area. I suffered through many a losing season until they finally won their very first World Series after nearly a 100 year history in 1980! They are looking very good this year, having signed Roy Halladay to a three year contract, as long as he stays healthy. If Cole Hamels rounds back into shape this year, they will be tough to beat in the NL East.

    I also closely follow the Angels, in my adopted home of Orange County, CA. I love the concept of team that Mike Scioscia, one of the finest managers in baseball, has drilled into the Angels, and they will be very solid again this year, even though Peter’s Red Sox signed away their ace, John Lackey this winter. Their rotation is solid, and their bullpen should be good, with Scott Shields back and healthy this year, and the addition of Fernando Rodney. Matsui will supply a power bat. Of course, the Mariners greatly improved themselves this year as well, so it should be a good race in the AL West.

    I mildly follow the Dodgers, as well, but will always root for the Phillies or the Angels over them should they meet. The Dodgers have off-field issues with their ownership, as owner Frank McCourt is in a bitter divorce. This has affected their budget, and there are some serious holes in their lineup this year. They should be competitive, but not spectacular.

  • Justin

    Dr. Veith – I enjoy the blog, I try to visit a few times a week.

    My team, the Royals, are surprisingly hitting the ball well this Spring. As of a few days ago they were leading the AL in batting average. This is surprising since their GM, Dayton Moore who came from the Braves organization is trying to build the team on pitching and defense. He thinks the Brave’s blueprint from the 90s will work in KC. He has his Greg Maddux in Zack Greinke, but lacks a reliable Glavine and Smoltz (Gil Meche, Luke Hochevar/Brian Bannister) Payroll issues continue to limit the acquiring of big name talent.
    Although, lately they’ve spent more on the draft and in Latin America. They’ll only be successful if they have a top 5 farm system. I like the extra investment in the last few drafts and the recent signing of Cuban pitching prospect Noel Arguelles. If their pitching prospects pan out, they could be really good in 2-3 years. But, they’ve already lost one of them this year. Twenty-one yr old prospect Danny Duffy decided to quit baseball just a week or so ago.

    The Royals made a huge mistake signing Jose Guillen to a big contact a few years ago. It’s easy to question any team’s management when they’re losing, but some of GM Dayton Moore’s decisions have been major head scratcher’s. The signing of Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Jacobs (who’s already gone), and Kyle Farnsworth from last year and this year the signing of 35 yr old Jason Kendall in addition to the excessive signing of average outfielders are all a bit baffling.

    I fully expect them to meet expectations and finish last again this year in the AL Central.

    Zack Greinke, Billy Butler (great young hitter), and closer Joakim Soria continue to give Royal fans some reason to hope.

    An interesting Royals blogger is Rany Jazayerli, he’s a dermatologist in the Chicago area, a Muslim and diehard Royals fan. He writes really good in depth posts at ranyontheroyals.com.

  • Justin

    Dr. Veith – I enjoy the blog, I try to visit a few times a week.

    My team, the Royals, are surprisingly hitting the ball well this Spring. As of a few days ago they were leading the AL in batting average. This is surprising since their GM, Dayton Moore who came from the Braves organization is trying to build the team on pitching and defense. He thinks the Brave’s blueprint from the 90s will work in KC. He has his Greg Maddux in Zack Greinke, but lacks a reliable Glavine and Smoltz (Gil Meche, Luke Hochevar/Brian Bannister) Payroll issues continue to limit the acquiring of big name talent.
    Although, lately they’ve spent more on the draft and in Latin America. They’ll only be successful if they have a top 5 farm system. I like the extra investment in the last few drafts and the recent signing of Cuban pitching prospect Noel Arguelles. If their pitching prospects pan out, they could be really good in 2-3 years. But, they’ve already lost one of them this year. Twenty-one yr old prospect Danny Duffy decided to quit baseball just a week or so ago.

    The Royals made a huge mistake signing Jose Guillen to a big contact a few years ago. It’s easy to question any team’s management when they’re losing, but some of GM Dayton Moore’s decisions have been major head scratcher’s. The signing of Yuniesky Betancourt, Mike Jacobs (who’s already gone), and Kyle Farnsworth from last year and this year the signing of 35 yr old Jason Kendall in addition to the excessive signing of average outfielders are all a bit baffling.

    I fully expect them to meet expectations and finish last again this year in the AL Central.

    Zack Greinke, Billy Butler (great young hitter), and closer Joakim Soria continue to give Royal fans some reason to hope.

    An interesting Royals blogger is Rany Jazayerli, he’s a dermatologist in the Chicago area, a Muslim and diehard Royals fan. He writes really good in depth posts at ranyontheroyals.com.

  • http://onroughseas.wordpress.com BW

    Dr Veith,

    I am an Orioles fan. I think the only reason that, after over a decade of baseball ineptitude, that I am still a baseball fan is because I am a Lutheran and understand suffering. It took them till 2007 to hire Andy Macphail who instituted a smarter plan of building the farm system first to build an elite, competitive team. The benefits of this plan are just now starting to emerge, however fans have been waiting so long that many are just losing patience altogether and don’t want to endure any more losing at all.

    As with other young teams, there is hope though I don’t know if this year is their year. They’ve got the most highly touted non pitching prospect in baseball, the catcher Matt Wieters. He came up last year after just annihilating pitching in the minors but didn’t hit till August/September, when he hit, I believe, to the clip of .362 and has unreal opposite field power.

    They’ve also got a plethora of pitching prospects, including Brian Matusz, a polished college pitcher with 4 plus pitches who has shown great promise this spring. Chris Tillman is another prospect, though younger and still raw, looks good. Brad Bergesen came up last year and has also been solid when he’s started, though he’s spent time on the DL. Wieters caught these guys in the minors the past two years and they work well together. There are still more pitchers in the minors that may emerge this year.

    Couple Matt Wieters and the pitchers with a talented, hitting defensive outfield with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold and they may finally start making waves in the AL East in another season as this young core coalesces together. The old Oriole Way meant building teams based on pitching and defense and I still think that’s the best way to go, though again, people have to give Macphail the time for his players to mature and show what they can do.

    Also, I look forward to seeing you in Strasbourg this summer, Dr. Veith, for Dr. Montgomery’s Institute of Apologetics.

  • http://onroughseas.wordpress.com BW

    Dr Veith,

    I am an Orioles fan. I think the only reason that, after over a decade of baseball ineptitude, that I am still a baseball fan is because I am a Lutheran and understand suffering. It took them till 2007 to hire Andy Macphail who instituted a smarter plan of building the farm system first to build an elite, competitive team. The benefits of this plan are just now starting to emerge, however fans have been waiting so long that many are just losing patience altogether and don’t want to endure any more losing at all.

    As with other young teams, there is hope though I don’t know if this year is their year. They’ve got the most highly touted non pitching prospect in baseball, the catcher Matt Wieters. He came up last year after just annihilating pitching in the minors but didn’t hit till August/September, when he hit, I believe, to the clip of .362 and has unreal opposite field power.

    They’ve also got a plethora of pitching prospects, including Brian Matusz, a polished college pitcher with 4 plus pitches who has shown great promise this spring. Chris Tillman is another prospect, though younger and still raw, looks good. Brad Bergesen came up last year and has also been solid when he’s started, though he’s spent time on the DL. Wieters caught these guys in the minors the past two years and they work well together. There are still more pitchers in the minors that may emerge this year.

    Couple Matt Wieters and the pitchers with a talented, hitting defensive outfield with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Nolan Reimold and they may finally start making waves in the AL East in another season as this young core coalesces together. The old Oriole Way meant building teams based on pitching and defense and I still think that’s the best way to go, though again, people have to give Macphail the time for his players to mature and show what they can do.

    Also, I look forward to seeing you in Strasbourg this summer, Dr. Veith, for Dr. Montgomery’s Institute of Apologetics.

  • scots

    I was born in 1962 in Cubbie blue and they will finish in 3rd or 4th place this year. My backup team has always been the Red Sox (fan since 1968) – there is going to be a battle royale in the AL East this year…may the evil empire go the way of all evil empires :)

  • scots

    I was born in 1962 in Cubbie blue and they will finish in 3rd or 4th place this year. My backup team has always been the Red Sox (fan since 1968) – there is going to be a battle royale in the AL East this year…may the evil empire go the way of all evil empires :)

  • Bruce Gee

    I was in Phoenix last week, and caught two Brewers games. They have Rickie Weeks back, and look to be an improvement on last year’s team. While I would hate to have my team in the American League East (I think you basically have a two team league and everyone else is AAA, although Phillie could maybe be added), the Nat Central is up for grabs. While we don’t have Sheets and Sabatthia anymore, Randy Wolf and Gallardo along with Bush, Parra, and somebody else may be enough in this division.
    The offense will be deadly. If Fielder, Braun, Hart, Weeks, et. al. have their usual year, then the pitching just has to be “pretty good”.
    Hope springs eternal!

  • Bruce Gee

    I was in Phoenix last week, and caught two Brewers games. They have Rickie Weeks back, and look to be an improvement on last year’s team. While I would hate to have my team in the American League East (I think you basically have a two team league and everyone else is AAA, although Phillie could maybe be added), the Nat Central is up for grabs. While we don’t have Sheets and Sabatthia anymore, Randy Wolf and Gallardo along with Bush, Parra, and somebody else may be enough in this division.
    The offense will be deadly. If Fielder, Braun, Hart, Weeks, et. al. have their usual year, then the pitching just has to be “pretty good”.
    Hope springs eternal!


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