Time to focus back in on the majors with WBC all done
Ron Vesely/Getty Images
BACK TO THE MAJORS
By Orel Hershiser, ESPNThere are just about two weeks left in spring training. Right now the goal for teams that had players at the WBC is to integrate those guys back into the team and get them ready for a long season. That's especially necessary for double-play combinations like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in Philadelphia. These are guys that just need to get their timing down.
BEST OF THE BLOGSEach day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Keith Law takes a look at can't-miss prospect Stephen Strasburg:
What you have heard on Stephen Strasburg is true. He is bar none the best college pitching prospect in at least 10 years, and there's nobody close to him -- college or high school, pitcher or position player -- in this draft.
The stuff is legit. The San Diego State right-hander hit 99 twice on my gun Friday, sat 97-99 through the third inning against Brigham Young and was still touching 98 in the seventh while never dropping below 94. His fastball has hard riding life to his glove side. His slider was a wipeout pitch, 81-84 mph with tilt and depth and a high degree of toxicity to opposing hitters.
He showed above-average command and was helped by BYU hitters who were playing defense the entire game; he didn't have great location on his fastball but rarely missed inside the zone. He never showed a changeup but didn't need one, as he fanned 15 men in seven innings, and has now struck out 60.6 percent of the batters he has faced this season.
Physically, Strasburg is in the best shape of his life, and that's not just spring training talk. He has a wiry-strong build with barely any fat on him, which is a major improvement over where he was in high school, when excess weight was a major reason he was bypassed entirely in the 2006 Rule 4 Draft. (He wasn't throwing 97-99 then, either.)
He takes an enormous stride toward the plate and generates absurd arm speed as his arm catches up to the rest of his body (that is, his arm is slightly "late" relative to his front side), which is a double-edged sword since it gives him great velocity but the lag puts some extra stress on his shoulder. He has no problems repeating his delivery, which is a good sign for future command.For the rest of this entry from Keith Law's blog, click here.
• The county will now put in a whopping $359 million for stadium construction and roads and utilities, mostly from tourist taxes. While the Marlins argued that tourist-tax money legally can't be used for anything other than tourism projects, the way the county got these funds for the stadium in the first place was by funneling off new tax money to pay for what the tourist taxes had been previously pledged to -- meaning the cost will ultimately come out of the county's general fund.
• The city puts up $119 million, mostly to build parking garages for the team.
• The Marlins kick in $155 [million] in private funds, a good chunk of which will likely come from the sale of naming rights, assuming there are still any corporations left to buy naming rights in the future.
For the rest of this entry from Rob Neyer's blog, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: WEDNESDAY
|3:30 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Buster Olney
BBTN MINUTE: CHECKING IN ON THE AL EAST
BASEBALL TONIGHT MAILBAG
Have a question for one of our analysts? Ever wonder what it's like behind the scenes at "Baseball Tonight"? Curious about a player or a team or an executive?
TUESDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Deep breaths all around in Philadelphia: Cole Hamels returned to the mound, and he felt good. The Phillies' ace, who had missed the past week because of elbow tightness, tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in a minor league game. If all goes well, Hamels will pitch again Sunday, this time against the Red Sox.||WORST|
|• OK, it's only spring, but still, pitching lines like this are never good. Cha Seung Baek gave up nine runs, nine hits and two homers over 4 2/3 innings for the Padres on Tuesday in a 10-5 loss against the Angels. The bad news is it's the second consecutive outing in which he's been knocked around.|
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight a look at the Yankees and Red Sox seemed appropriate since the two teams got together earlier Tuesday for some spring training action.
|Red Sox-Yankees (Reg. season, since 2004)|
|Runs per game||5.7||5.3|
HOLLIDAY READY FOR NEW START
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Injuries have slowed Ken Griffey Jr. the past few years. Have the injuries also put the skids on his bat as well? The prevailing thought is that Griffey can't catch up to the fastball, and when a hitter can't touch the heat, he starts guessing. As Griffey goes looking for fastballs, pitchers have countered with off-speed stuff:
|Ken Griffey Jr.|
|1st-pitch chase pct.||6.6||9.5|
|Slider swing-miss pct.||23.8||35.4|
|Changeup swing-miss pct.||10.0||19.4|
|SLG vs. fastball||.545||.455|
Have questions about how to build your roster? Whom you should choose early or late in your draft? Which catcher you want? We have the answers. Draft Kit