September 18, 2021

One Day Away

February 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Pitchers and catchers “officially” report tomorrow.  In actuality, almost the entire team is already in Jupiter or doing prep work before getting there.  Still, sitting here with 19 degree temperatures outside this morning, waking up to read about spring training is just about glorious.  There’s magic in “pitchers and catchers report.”

I believe that Brad Penny will be one of the keys to this season.  If he’s as good as Dave Duncan thinks he’s going to be after some modifications, the troika of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Penny will be as good as any in the league.  So hearing that Penny is already working with Duncan is a great thing.

A couple of things that I got out of that story.  First off, you’ll notice that there’s not a ton about pitching to contact in it.  Duncan even mentions Penny’s strikeout potential, noting that the changes he seems to need to make are more of a mental variety, mixing his pitches and keeping the hitters guessing.  He’s not saying that he needs to lay off trying to strike people out.  I’m sure that he’ll emphasize that ground balls are good, but it doesn’t sound like they are trying to remake Penny.

Secondly, I’m wondering if this doesn’t add to the thought that it’s the last go-round for these guys.  Tony LaRussa has been wanting to get Mark McGwire in the game, so now Mac’s the hitting coach.  Duncan’s wanted to work with Penny for a long time, so the team brings him in on a one-year deal.  You could look at this like they are checking off their bucket lists before getting out of the game (or at least these positions).

Speaking of McGwire, there’s a great article by Derrick Goold on his approach to hitting and how he’s connecting with the players.  When you read things like this, where he does have a philosophy and the ability to adjust it to the player, it makes me at least feel better about the whole thing.  It’s not just a “let’s get Mac back in the game however we can” type of thing.  McGwire legitimately could be a hitting coach and that fact might come through if it wasn’t for his unfortunate past.

Is it time to move on from that past?  I think it probably should be.  Goold has the point that news isn’t about what we want to read or write about, but what we should read and write about and I understand that to a degree.  I understand that McGwire could give us insights on the steroid era, but is it really the place to be asking these things when he’s trying to do another job?

If Mac had just admitted his steroid use and was out of the game, I could see people trying to do some digging and finding out things for history’s sake.  Right now, though, he’s trying to be a hitting coach.  Reporting the present should take priority.  Is how he deals with the team going to be different if he used steroids constantly throughout his career?  I’m just not sure how relevant it is to what he’s doing now.  I understand why reporters keep worrying at it, but I just don’t think their audience is that receptive to it, especially at a time when there’s all the hope and excitement about the future.

In relation to that starter, Rich Hill threw some yesterday and was reported to have “life” on his arm.  Which, when put in context to the ill-fated Matt Clement signing, is a big thing.  I keep going back and forth between Hill and Kyle McClellan for that last slot and I think the competition between those two will be the most interesting thing in camp.  If Hill has what he had with the Cubs, it’d be tough to deny him the slot.

Another guy with something to prove in camp is David Freese.  He’s got third base, assuming no major stumbles, but with his off-the-field issues this offseason, he has some work to do in regaining trust and acceptance with the coaches and the fanbase.  One fantasy magazine I have ranked him the 11th best option at third in the bigs, which is fairly impressive in my book since he’s hardly had any MLB time.  I’d like to see him be able to put up 15-20 homers and hit around .260.  With the rest of the offense, that’d help tremendously.  If nothing else, you got to appreciate a day that starts with hitting lessons from Albert Pujols and wraps with fielding lessons from Jose Oquendo!

I may have mentioned before about PJ Walters and his premature daughter.  Annabelle is still in critical condition, but is hanging in there almost a week after the emergency C-section.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

It’s time for camp.  Questions will be answered.  Decisions will be made.  It’s time for baseball!

Couple of BBA notes before I wrap.  First off, remember that you can listen to me ramble about baseball in general instead of just about the Cardinals on tonight’s inaugural BBA Baseball Talk over at Blog Talk Radio.  Should be a lot of fun.

Second, Tony from Indians Prospect Insider has out a book on the top 100 Indians prospects.  If you follow the Tribe as well or know someone that might enjoy that kind of book, check it out over at his site.

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