It’s getting a little warm outside. The sun is beginning to frequent the sky a little more consistently – we even gave it an extra hour to hang. You’re beginning to keep your jacket in the closet when you leave for the morning commute to work. You shouldn’t need a calendar to tell you that baseball is literally almost one week away, but it helps.
Let’s call a spade a shovel. Spring Training is about as relevant as wings are at Hooters. The only thing that parallels no baseball is fake baseball. All of these stats and personnel moves, only, nothing that baseball nerds like me can even get excited about. It’s Spring Training.
But all of you fantasy baseball GMs out there are following along. You’re paying attention. You know that sometimes, players can hint at what they’re going to give you during the Big 162 – or, you know, can hint at what they aren’t going to give you.
For example, Bronson Arroyo had a 4.43 ERA in 2011’s Spring session. We all know how last season turned out, though it is worth noting that Bronson has only had two springs where he posted ERA below 3. For example, he posted a 5.70 in 2010’s fake baseball season. He went on to post a 3.88 ERA in 215 innings pitched when it mattered.
He’s currently sitting at 7.62. He’s pitched 13 innings.
So who knows what to expect. I don’t have a whole lot of analysis now; rather, just going to bring you up to speed on what’s been going on in Goodyear.
State of the Rotation:
Johnny Cueto: 5.79 ERA in 14 innings pitched. Don’t freak out – Cueto has had exactly one spring in his entire career where he posted an ERA below 5. I’m a little concerned with his Ks though – he typically still retires batters without contact in the spring. 19 Ks in ’08. 13 in ’09. 16 in ’10. He only pitched nine innings last spring and still amassed five Ks.
He currently has six through 14.
Mat Latos: 1.93 ERA in 14 innings pitched. This is what you’d hope to see from your biggest off-season splash. Nine strikeouts, and batters only hitting .245 against his stuff early on.
Mike Leake: 5.73 in 11 innings pitched. Not so great. But neither was last spring when he posted an abysmal 7.29 ERA after tossing 21 innings. He went on to have a phenomenal 2011 campaign. The only thing that worries me about Leake right now is that his GO/AO ratio is .75 – not the most comforting for a pitcher working at Great American. It’s the lowest it’s ever been in his incredibly young career.
Homer Bailey: 7.98 in 14 innings pitched. Homer Bailey doesn’t have good springs. Of the seven springs he’s worked in, he’s only posted an ERA below three twice. It’s worth noting though that his walks and earned runs are the highest they’ve been since 2008. He went 0-6 after eight starts with an ERA of 7.93 that year before being demoted to Louisville.
It’s hard to feel that great about the rotation right now, but again, fake baseball is hardly indicative of the real thing.
How about some of the guys swinging bats?
Chris Heisey: After 42 ABs, Heisey is batting .214. He has no HRs. He’s struck out 14 times. In relation to last year, he posted a .346 BA after 52 ABs. As irrelevant as Spring Training can be, make no mistake, Chris Heisey is currently doing himself no favors. Thankfully for the #freeheisey campaign, Ryan Ludwick is hardly taking advantage of Heisey’s struggles. He’s hitting .222 in 36 Abs.
How are we feeling about the infinite black hole that is the Reds’ left field?
Zack Cozart: Finally, a reason to be excited. Cozart is killing it in Goodyear. In 42 ABs, Cozart is hitting .452 with only two strikeouts.
How are we feeling about the infinite black hole that is the Reds’ shortstop? A little better.
Jay Bruce: He’s hitting .333 in 39 ABS. That’s fine, but what bothers me is the 11 strikeouts. This spring will be the most he’s amassed since 2009.
Drew Stubbs: He’s hitting .206 in 34 ABs. 11 strikeouts. In spring of 2011, Drew struck out 24 times in 58 ABs, so this could still be a productive spring for Stubbs if he keeps the Ks where they are.
The Reds are currently 10-15-1 and are trailing the Cards by 5.5 games. Don’t sweat it, they’re only one game behind the 10-13 Phillies.
The records, the averages, the ERAs – none of those are that important. It’s the trends that are worth following. And trends in fake baseball become incredibly monotonous. Thankfully, a fresh dose of real baseball is only nine days out.