Some things to talk about while you watch for some things in spring training...
1) Alex White will be ready
We're criminally late on bringing this to you, but there's a nice profile of Alex White up over at MLB.com. In it, the pitcher picked up from Colorado for Wilton Lopez talks about his rehab from Tommy John surgery:
"We know I'm not 100 percent yet, but for 90, 95 percent, it feels good and the ball was coming out of my hand really well," White said. "I've learned a few things with my mechanics and stuff like that in the process that will help me."
White, 25, made the Astros' Opening Day roster last year before injuring his elbow in a preseason exhibition at Minute Maid Park and getting placed on the disabled list. He underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on April 11 and has been rehabbing in Kissimmee since.
"I started throwing in early August, and it's been a process," he said. "We started at 45 feet and 25 throws, and from that day to where I am today, it seems like a giant leap. It really hasn't been, but there's been so many small steps in between we've put in, and it's been a good recovery."
It's a great story about one of the guys who got overshadowed by an injury last season. White absolutely could be a surprise contributor to the 2014 team in a big way.
2) Considering Hanley Ramirez
As long as we're mining for any bit of baseball news, the Clayton Kershaw mega extension was then met with talk about how the Dodgers are talking with Hanley Ramirez in very early stages about a possible extension. I'm not a math expert, but I believe pushing your payroll over $400 million will hurt the team eventually.
Because of this, there's a chance HanRam (so, so sorry you guys) could be a free agent next winter. Thus, let's consider whether Hanley would make a good free agent addition.
Though he hasn't played at the levels he flashed with the Marlins in 2008 and 2009, Ramirez is still obscenely good and would have been back to that level in 2013 if he hadn't been hurt. Those injury issues will hamper his value some, since he failed to reach 400 plate appearances in two of the last four years.
Oh, and Ramirez will be 31 in December, meaning whichever team signs him to a Robinson Cano-type deal will owe him a ton of money for his decline. So, I pose the question to you: if Ramirez is the premier free agent on the market next winter and the Astros have a new, shiny TV deal pumping revenue into the team, should they go after Hanley? Does he make sense going forward with the team? What would hold you back from chasing him?
3) Perspective on Tanaka
Because most perspective in this lingering story was lost weeks ago:
Perspective if Tanaka really does get 6 yrs/$120M or more: Only 8 active pitchers are making $20M+/yr. All but Cain & Hamels own Cy Youngs.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 21, 2014
Yes, I realize how filthy his stuff is, but that's a lot of money to be paying for current production when we have no idea how he'll perform in the majors. Which is why Tanaka terrifies me (and also why I'm not working for a major league baseball team).