Friends are going to spring training in Arizona this year and I was invited. Intrasquad games and closers coming in for the third inning? I took a pass. The only thing exciting about spring training is its conclusion. Nevertheless, there are some things to keep an eye out for while continuing to catch every episode of the RR/RW Challenge: The Gauntlet. (BTW, The show is an hour now, but I almost wish it were only a half hour so there would be twice as many episodes. Talk about bittersweet. Loved how Danny was happy his wife, Melinda, got a concussion so she wouldn’t be vulnerable for elimination. That’s love!)
Felipe Lopez – It’s official; Felipe Lopez slept with Manny Acta’s wife. Last year, he refused to play small ball and it cost Felipe Lopez (as Gollum would say) precious steals. This year, Acta announced Ronnie Belliard would be the 2nd baseman and Cristian Guzman would be the shortstop, leaving Lopez on the bench. I don’t think highly of Felipe Lopez, but saying Cristian Guzman is a poor man’s Felipe Lopez is an insult to poor men everywhere. Watch to see if Felipe can get off the bench and in the lineup somewhere because he could be a bargain if he’s taken in the final rounds. Cristian Guzman’s going to suck and stink, but he won’t stick.
Cubs Closer – Marmol, Howry or Wood? Wood, Marmol or Howry? Hell if I know. My guess is Howry because Piniella’s got a thing for the proven and Howry’s the closest thing to proven. If you had ESPN Deportes, you saw Marmol be lights out in the Caribbean Series for his DR team. Wood can be lights out. Whichever way this goes, you need to know.
Dave Roberts – You’re rooting for him to perform badly in spring training so Fred Lewis (potential steals) or Nate Schierholtz (potential power) get a chance. If it makes you feel any better rooting for the end to Roberts, keep telling yourself he had a nice career. (Sure, it would be a lie, but whatever. If you can’t lie to yourself, who can you lie to?)
Colby Rasmus – In his Double A debut, .275/.381/.551 with 29 home runs, 37 doubles and 18 stolen bases. Could he unseat Ryan Ludwick in rightfield? I think sooner rather than later, but it may not be as early as this spring training. He will probably take over sometime this year though, so keeper owners need to have Rasmus on the brain at draft time.
The entire Oakland A’s lineup – You need to see who is batting and where, especially in AL-only leagues. If Cust is cleanup and Chavez is batting third, then they need to be drafted in mixed leagues. Barton batting second? Might not be bad to take a flier. Chris Denorfia is going to be entering that magical 27 year-old year. (And, yes, that is the only time magical and Chris Denorfia will ever be in the same sentence.) He’s considered to be the frontrunner for centerfield and could potentially give you 10/20 numbers with a .280 in a full season of at-bats. “Could” is the key word.
Tomorrow, I’ll look at some more spring training battles.