Well, here we are folks, knee deep in spring training. Players we have never heard of are not just wearing the high numbers this year, and Lakeland is busy as everyone scrambles to create meaning from the meaningless in so many ways. Let’s take a look at what’s being bandied about.
Setting the pace
After a successful first Grapefruit League outing, Jordan Zimmermann is talking tempo, and hoping the desire of pitching coach Chris Bosio for all his pitchers to work fast is one of the keys that will help him regain some level of success. Zimmermann mentions that he used to be a pretty fast worker, but a groin injury forced him to slow down a few years ago. Since then, he has had problems. I doubt that a change of pace is all he needs, but I would love to be wrong.
As we get deeper into the spring season we’re seeing more and more signings come through. The Minnesota Twins locked up Logan Morrison for one very economically priced year. Ben Revere signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds with an invitation to spring training, and with a press conference scheduled for Monday it looks like J.D. Martinez is finally going to officially become a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Lynn Henning of The Detroit News has an interesting rundown of one of the returns from the Justin Wilson and Alex Avila robbery the Tigers committed at last year’s trade deadline. For such a young player, the organization seems pretty happy with the bat of Isaac Paredes. They also think he has the ability to stick at shortstop, but they’re a little concerned with his weight. It would seem young Isaac is a bit of a husky fella. Speaking from experience, I can say one doesn’t tend to get skinnier the older they get.
Hopefully some attention from the nutritionists in Lakeland can help, but once he gets out into the day-to-day life of minor league ball, he’s on his own. If he’s anything like me at 19 he’s a garbage can for fast food and pizza. Here’s hoping he can stay more disciplined than me.
Stumpf looking to take root
Daniel Stumpf may be rolling into spring with a new trick or two up his sleeve, according to Detroit News writer Chris McCosky. Apparently, Daniel has been working on the changeup and, in his limited time early on, has been able to use it effectively. He was throwing it a shade too hard last year. In an effort to be more useful out of the bullpen in 2018, he went to work in the offseason to make that a better pitch. If the effectiveness makes it through the spring and sticks with him in Detroit it could prove quite useful.
Failure to launch
Launch angle has been the topic dujour for hitting over the past few years. Tigers hitting coach LLoyd McClendon isn’t all in on the idea. It’s not so much that he’s against it, but he recognizes that it’s not for everybody. Apparently two of those people it’s not for are newly acquired catcher Derek Norris and outfielder Leonys Martin, as Lloyd is working to fix the damage an attempt at increasing launch angle did to both of their games in 2017.
For further on the subject, check out a great, though lengthy, interview that Joey Votto gave on hitting in general. There’s a ton of Votto wisdom, but he also notes reasons why everyone shouldn’t immediately assume that trying to hit more fly balls is an effective strategy for most players, especially younger ones.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the United States Men’s first gold medal in curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Curling is a beautiful sport in that it tricks you into believing you could throw on some performance khakis, grow a bitchin’ mustache, and do little more than put on your shoes to become an Olympic athlete. Don’t be fooled my friends. Those curling folks operate at level the likes of which you or I could never touch.
Around the horn
Andrew W.K. draws inspiration from Tigers Stadium where he references the wave, and I’m sure immediately angers a large portion of the baseball fan base who somehow find a big problem with a very harmless fan activity (I have zero problems with the wave. Don’t @ me) [Ed.: Definitely @ him]. Shohei Ohtani has mixed results in his spring debut. Joel Sherman has some crazy ideas for changing baseball. In the latest installment of Tebow Watch, Tim sprained his ankle on a sprinkler head. If you’re into grown-ass men convincing themselves of a young 20-something athlete’s talent based on a set of arbitrary drills as opposed to hours and hours of actual game tape, the NFL combine is this week.
Baseball is awesome
It’s spring training. We’re all working at a little less than our best.