For baseball lovers, there are no more mirthful words to receive in mid-February than “pitchers and catchers reported to spring training today.” This year was obviously different when pitchers, catchers, and everyone else reported last Monday. What have we learned over the past week?
- Meyers, if not ahead of schedule, is at least not behind schedule. This is probably the most noteworthy but under-reported story. Recall the mood back in October—Would Meyers be back the next day, or for the next series? It took some days to settle into the gravity of the injury. Without access to team doctors and trainers, how would his rehab go? Last week Meyers was out there with the team, taking part in most of the drills. If Chaz, Brinson, and Siri are not up to the CF duties, then Meyers is in the picture
- Click and Crane feel like the best move they can make is mid-season. Remember when reporters like Evan Dreilich thought Crane was cheap? Crane is not perfect, but he’s not cheap. They do not want to suffer the draft compensation consequences for going over the tax (understandable given how badly the MLB sanctions hurt their farm system), but they also don’t want to sign someone just for the sake of it. They will make their move in July
- The Astros care 0% about fielding competitive ST teams. The team will get their work done in simulated games and on the backfields. They have a plan to get their players and pitchers ready, and it does not involve the usual limelight of ramping up over the course of 5-6 spring training starts after which reporters ask the same questions to the #1 starter, or the guy trying to make it as the #5 starter. This is probably a new world of what spring training looks like.
- The Lance injury means.... nothing. The season is long. Pitchers will get injured and skip starts. Last year it was Framber Valdez. McCullers’ injury seems more serious, certainly, but with any luck he’ll be back in June or July. Think Lance like Kershaw. His 120-150IP/season will be really good. Let’s hope some of them are during October. The team has unbelievable pitching depth, and still has six bona-fide MLB starters who are healthy. I would look for Dusty and Click to consider a 6-man rotation to start the season. Only JV has toed the rubber in a ST game, but I imagine we’ll see the other players in the coming days. I also suspect, given how many innings that guys like Conine and Brown threw their first time out, that the team told the pitchers before the lockout to ramp up on their own during February.
- The Front Office must really love Jeremy Pena
I’m not sure who had eyeballs on him in the Dominican Winter League, but they’re putting a ton of eggs in the “Pena can play right now” basket. He’s stepping into the shoes of a legend and he’s played 30 games stateside above A ball. Zips projects him to be a league average hitter. Honestly, I’ll be thrilled with that. If he comes out of ST as the starter, expect him to be a 5 days/week starter and to be eased into it.
The news for the first week has been sparse, and in the coming days we can start talking about bullpen battles, what the bench will look like, and, with any luck, Jonathan Bermudez. Enjoy the day off and let’s get ready to over-analyze the Tuesday game now that there are no Correa stories and no brackets left to bust.