Happy New Year. Yes the Year of the Ox kicked off last Friday but for baseball fans the magical words “pitchers and catchers report” kick off a new year as well. So there’s some actual baseball news to link this week.
Shohei Ohtani threw a bullpen session yesterday. His top velocity was said to be 90 MPH but nobody is concerned. He apparently hit 98 in an offseason bullpen.
As far as Ohtani’s usage this year, skipper Joe Maddon says there will be no limits. For his part, Ohtani says he feels great after a normal off season and is ready to have some fun, including playing without limits.
A healthy, productive Shohei Ohtani is likely the difference between the playoffs and another October at home. Personally I’d love to see a full year of history made, but I find the “no limits” talk as hype.
Another key to a competitive Angels season is Andrew Heaney, who fully embraced the technological side of baseball this off season in hopes of having a breakthrough year. Notice how he was talking to Doug White, the former pitching coach all off season.
Dylan Bundy had a really good year for the Angels in 2020 and is set to become a free agent at the end of this year. He’s not focusing on free agency, however. Insert “just help the team win” cliché here.
Of course not all of our pitchers are in camp as several are facing Visa issues. Of particular interest are two guys trying to make the team, Junior Guerra and Rule V pick up Jose Alberto Rivera. Maddon says perhaps another week or two. There’s also some cool insight into how the new Covid protocols are changing the way camp is usually conducted.
Taylor Ward is in camp. As a catcher. Former two way player Jared Walsh is not. He’s hoping to ride his hot September to a full time gig as a position player.
The best thing I read this week features former Angels pitcher John Lamb. There’s a discussion we need to have as a society about those magical little pills the doctors give us that can be really addictive vs. using the whacky tobaccy to ease pain. Lamb chose the latter and it greatly impacted his career. That’s your longform if you subscribe to The Athletic.
New year, new prospects list. Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs has Marsh up to #15 on his current list. I like this a lot:
“He could blow up this year. He’s also a clean fit in center field and his range out there might be better than Trout’s is at this point, though obviously the notion of moving Trout to a corner comes with other considerations. I think Marsh is an All-Star talent.” – EL.
And with such an odd year without minor league games, which kinds of prospects were most affected by the year off?
Elsewhere around the league, Oakland took a big hammer to our dreams by signing Trevor Rosenthal. Not only is he not pitching for us, he’ll now get to pitch against us.
Meanwhile in a move straight out of the Angels playbook, JT Realmuto suffered a broken thumb and will be sidelined for a few weeks. Getting extra looks in camp will be………Jeff Mathis.
And as a reminder of the world in which we live, Shane Bieber tested positive for Covid-19 and will be sidelined for a while.
Of course the biggest news was out of San Diego where they went full Mike Trout on Fernando Tatis Jr. 14 years is a lifetime but it is nice to see the Pads making some noise. What’s also remarkable is the Padres chairman saying this type of move is “completely sustainable.”
It would be impossible tie together the two themes of pitchers reporting and Black History Month without a tribute to Satchel Paige. 50 years ago he brought the Negro Leagues to the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first man voted into the Hall for his accomplishments in the Negro Leagues. Another great long form read.
A few years ago I read Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend. I have a review queued up for a slow news day here. The short version, this is a great book and I highly recommend it.
You know a guy has crossed from the diamond into the mainstream when The History Channel has a link about him. I seriously think there’s a legitimate case to name him the greatest pitcher ever.
Enjoy your weekend folks. We’ll be talking about actual games in another week and a half. If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, I highly recommend the Valdez vs. Berchelt fight on ESPN. If that’s not your game, flip on your favorite baseball flick and know we’re almost back.
What is your go to baseball movie?