February 14th was a day of love, spring air, and optimism as we celebrated the most precious of holidays: pitchers and catchers reporting to camp.
By this time next week we’ll be adjusting our schedules to watch the Angels take on the Mariners and White Sox. Here’s a complete Spring Training schedule for the Halos with game times and locations. And I already have game threads queued up for the full preseason.
Between all the new faces and World Baseball Classic, this Spring Training will be a little different than in years past. Here’s what to watch for as camp opens.
All eyes will be on Shohei Ohtani this year. Press lined up for hours outside the Angels offices in Tempe just to get a picture of him walking into camp.
The media circus will only grow as the year wears on. First Ohtani will suit up for his native Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Then his full Japanese media entourage will follow him here where all the local and national media will focus on his impending free agency.
Fortunately the Angels have an inside man who will do everything he can to convince Ohtani to stay.
I’m going to say a vintage Mike Trout season where he genuinely challenges Ohtani for MVP would be the best place to start.
As good as Trout and Ohtani have already been, some of the new rule changes could make them even better. SI is predicting baseball is about to become a lot more exciting and I hope they are right.
I’ve said it here countless times, but a well executed hit and run is pure beauty in my eyes. It incorporates speed and precision, creates movement across the entire playing field, and ends with the drama of “will he make it to third?” I’ll gladly take more base runners, more base running, and more defensive gems.
Trout and Ohtani clearly represent the ceiling of MLB talent. We’ve spent the last few years hoping the Angels would raise the floor beneath them. FanGraphs did a deep dive into how raising the floor is affecting free agency.
There is good news out of Tempe. The Angels added Matt Moore on a one year deal.
To make room for Moore, friend of the site Davis Daniel was placed on the IL with a shoulder injury.
And while the Renfroe arbitration numbers still aren’t out, Luis Rengifo did win his arbitration case against the Angels.
Along with the pops of baseballs hitting gloves in mid February comes an endless stream of predictions and prognostications. Could the Angels be this year’s 2022 Phillies? Yahoo seems to think so.
That same piece lists the Yankees as the team most likely to be this year’s 2022 White Sox. The Bronx Bombers aren’t off to a good start as Frankie Montas needs more work on his shoulder and could very well miss the entire season.
And in the “cry me a river” category FanGraphs is saying Gerrit “SpiderTack” Cole is under rated. I’ll eat some crow here. I really thought he’d turn back into Pittsburgh Cole after his stick icky was taken away but he’s been much better than that.
Remember all that bluster from Roid Sux fans when a club employee wrote the Mitchell Report and didn’t name a single bahstun guy as a roider? A similar story is playing out in LA with regards to sign stealing.
After lots of rumor and innuendo over the years, the Dodgers are being accused of using video to steal signs. Their scheme seems more in line with the Yanks and Roid Sux relaying signs from second base than a full on trash can fiasco, but the Dodgers were among the best teams in the league while sign stealing was rampant.
I mentioned the WBC. Here’s a great primer on the rosters, the tournament, and some cool trivia. Really the best summary I’ve found thus far.
But my headline says baseball is back and I haven’t linked any actual baseball.
NCAA play kicks off nationwide today. Top 25 lists are all over my feed and some West Coast teams, particularly Stanford, are getting some love.
The odds of me catching a live game this weekend are pretty high. Get the family out for some small stadium fun in the sun if you can.
I don’t link the Athletic much because of the paywall, but they did a great job with an NCAA coaches roundtable that is worth a link.
On a sad note, RIP to Tim McCarver. He was a baseball lifer and called many of the biggest moments of the game. That’s your longform read for the weekend. Really great piece there.
Have a great holiday weekend. Squeeze in that extra family time before the Angels start up next week. If you’re going to a college game this weekend, hit me up.
Meanwhile link what I missed below.