Spring training offers up a little of everything and a lot of entertainment
AP Photo/Richard Drew
JOY OF SPRING
By Tim Kurkjian, ESPNSpring training is my favorite time of year for a lot of reasons. Here are just a few:
BEST OF THE BLOGSEach day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Buster Olney notes that the economic troubles in Detroit are impacting the Tigers: There have been rumblings all during the offseason about how teams such as the Padres are having a tough time selling tickets, but here is the biggest red flag to date: The Tigers' season-ticket sales have dropped from 27,000 to 15,000, as Shawn Windsor and Jon Paul Morosi report. So now we have a clearer understanding of the context in which the Tigers are making their final roster choices. Their ticket sales are awful, making it even more important that Detroit starts its season strongly. If the Tigers get off to a terrible start, as they did last season, fan interest in the team -- already impacted by the economy -- will take a body blow. (Privately, executives with other clubs say the same thing could be said for about 15 to 20 other teams in the big leagues.) The Tigers are obligated to pay $22 million to Dontrelle Willis in 2009 and 2010, and although Willis made some progress in a minor league game Tuesday, the hard truth is that he is not one of the 11 or 12 best pitchers in the Detroit camp. "He looks terrible," said a rival talent evaluator who has seen Willis pitch several times this spring. In another time, such as Spring 2008, the Tigers easily could have considered tucking Willis into the No. 5 spot in their rotation as they bought time for their investment to pay off. In another time, they easily could have ignored the promise of 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Rick Porcello and assigned him to the minors, rather than employing him in the big leagues and running the risk of rushing him. For the rest of this entry from Buster Olney's blog, click here.
If the Rays hadn't just won the American League pennant like 19 minutes ago, today we'd be saying the whole lot of them, from manager Joe Maddon to baseball ops chief Andrew Friedman, are out of their minds.
That's because the man who got the save in winning that pennant, towering lefty David Price, has been dispatched to Triple-A Durham. The electricity is already building for Jason Hammel's first start of the season.
Price to the minors was in the bag before spring training. He could have struck out four guys in an inning, thrown the first no-hit game in Rays spring history and re-painted the clubhouse and he still would have wound up in the bushes.
Yes, there were practical reasons to send Price down. For one thing, despite his amazing finish last season, he has only made 19 professional starts.
Second, the Rays were out of options for two of Price's competitors for the fifth spot in the Rays' starting rotation, Hammel and Jeff Niemann.
And now my practical reason to keep him:
Price is better than the other guys.
What's the point of Jason Hammel options if Hammel can't get it done?
Shouldn't it be about that sometimes -- the other guy being better?
BBTN ON THE AIR: FRIDAY
|3:30 p.m. ET
|Host: Karl Ravech
Analyst: Buster Olney
BBTN MINUTE: EMPLOYMENT LINE
BASEBALL TONIGHT MAILBAG
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THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• Derek Lowe is, at least during spring training, making the Braves feel good about their offseason investment. Lowe allowed one run over six innings Thursday against Toronto. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk. He is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA this spring, with 21 strikeouts against just two walks.||WORST|
|• More performance-enhancing drugs news: Miguel Tejada was sentenced to one year of probation for misleading Congress in regard to his own use of performance-enhancing drugs. The sentence, however, did spare Tejada from serving jail time.|
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight he looks at Ken Griffey Jr. and offers up hope that Griffey can indeed find some of his old form as he gets, well, older
|Notable Hall of Fame outfielders in the season turning 39|
DRAFT PROFILE: STEPHEN STRASBURG
NUMBERS TO KNOW
J.J. Putz earned the win for the Mets in their spring training game against St. Louis on Thursday. He struck out one during a perfect inning of work. Putz was acquired in a three-team, 12-player deal this offseason, and the Mets might have just gotten themselves a bargain. Putz dealt with injuries for most of the 2008 season, which was likely the biggest factor in his drop in production.
|J.J. Putz (past two seasons)|
|Strikeout pct. of PA||31.5||26.5|
|Walk pct. of PA||5.0||13.3|
FANTASY PREVIEW: SECOND BASEMAN
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
The Tigers are looking for a revival after a rough 2008. Will it happen? 30/30 takes a look. 30/30For more, check out ESPN Insider.