With another successful Spring Training schedule almost in the books it is time to examine updates from the last edition. Further moves still await and has a couple players on pins and needles.
The pitching staff as a whole was working the bugs out of their system and for the most part actually performed better than usual for the spring debacle. The stats may not indicate it but it wasn't all that bad. A concerned look from the pitching coaches showed their angst at the gopher balls surrendered however.
The hitting coaches were somewhat bewildered as Edwin Corey led the way on offense. However his low stamina causes lots of concern in a long season.
The trade of Richard Gabriel opened a much needed roster spot. Coaches are happy with what the scouts saw in Wade Hayes who we got in the deal. The chances of Hayes making the ML roster this year is very remote however.
Management wasn't happy with Zeke McDonald and resigned veteran Paul Ingram. The coaches aren't very happy with either one from an offensive perspective. It was hoped that Ingram could take over the lead-off spot but didn't have a good spring in that position. So management being what it is brought in Juan Chavez to capture that role. He had a good spring from the coaches perspective in limited action in the lead-off spot. However, to move him into the lineup, Wally Harvey must be moved to a corner OF position. With the spring that Dave Cosby had, has put a very big crimp in who to fill the last roster spot with.
With one spot open and three possible players to fill the position makes it really rough, I know several managers would like to have that delima. Management is not exactly inclined to trade anybody at this point which makes the decision that much harder. Both Ingram and Chavez have options where Cosby doesn't. So Cosby will probably be one of the odd men out. In my mind Chavez is the the most likely candidate but most of the coaches are against the idea as they like Ingram much better. William Bolling could be put on the trade block but it is doubtful that anyone would want to absorb his contract for the season at this time. His wants for an extension, though cheaper, is still more than his actual skill and will be offered FA status next year for sure. Depending on how the season goes, Bolling could wind up in AAA or on the Waiver Wire with Cosby taking his place before it is all said and done.
Many of the problems have resulted in the fact that we faced more than the usual left-handed pitchers during the spring. It seemed like a steady stream even though the stats showed an even keel. The stats show we didn't hit lefties well, but still knocked them around pretty hard.
The pitching coaches have yet to decide on a pitching rotation either. Neither have I for that matter. #1 and #2 may be decided but the remaining three are still very much up in the air and could be a last minute decision.
I expect about the same results as last year though I am being very optimistic in that assessment. Really the team composition hasn't changed, just the stadium. We didn't play long ball last season in Vegas and this stadium isn't going to change or improve that fact all that much if any. Pitching is actually stronger and the expectation is fewer gopher balls given up in all reality. For the most part last year, a strong defense, pitching and a tough small ball park was our ally. This year is a bit opposite as we are hoping to play to our best strengths, small ball power hitting with the defense and pitching at home. On the road, I imagine things aren't going to change all that much. But with every season other teams change, how they changed will determine how good our season will be. Many of those other teams are getting better, hopefully we got better also.
The opening bell puts us in Seattle once again. I can't remember the last time we didn't open there. Last year it was a split because of a stupid move on my part, still think I should have won three of the four. Keys to victory is simple, got to shut down that power lineup. Jacque Puffer and Candy Kreuter have been Cat killers in the past. Jack Hunt has never done much damage to us but is ever present and dangerous in the trio. Their pitching staff is strong but very beatable with the Cats on the War path. Winning in Safeco is not an easy task, best chances is a small ball power offense (sound familiar?) and luck.