Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Training Review
Part I

A full Weekend in Review of Dave and my Spring Training trip will be coming soon. (We don't want to leave anything out.) Until then, here are a few players, primarily non-roster invites, who caught our eye.

Players Who Should Make the Team and Will

7. Matt Treanor, C, Marlins: The backup catcher is having a great spring at the plate. Plus, keeping him on the team allows for many gratuitous crowd shots of his wife, olympic beach netter Misty May-Treanor.

6. Todd Hollandsworth, OF, Indians: Hollandsworth is expected to be the Tribe's fourth outfielder. He didn't do anything spectacular at the plate, but he does have an absolute cannon for an arm.
5. Xavier Nady, RF, Mets: He never lived up to expectations in San Diego. All five of his tools have been working well this spring. Can the Mets projected starting right fielder keep it up during the regular season?
4. Paul Byrd, SP, Indians: It's no surprise that he'll make the team. He should serve as a capable fourth starter. Byrd gave up three hits and no runs in four innings of work against the Pirates.
3. Matt Diaz, OF, Braves: Yet another stud prospect from the Atlanta organization. He hit third in the game we saw. I wouldn't be surprised if he broke camp as the fourth outfielder for the big league club.
2. Julio Franco, 1B, Braves: C'mon, how can you not have Julio Franco on your team?
1. Lenny Harris, PH, Marlins: Dave put it best. Somehow Harris will make the team under the guise of "veteran presence." That, or he'll be Jake Taylor-ed into a coaching position. (Wow, two Major League II reference in one column?)

Players Who Shouldn't Make the Team and Won't

4. Samir Nagganamaketheteam: Let's face it: if you don't have a name on your jersey, you aren't in the program, and the announcer doesn't even know who you are, then you're in pretty bad shape.
3. Kanka, UT: You've seen me play. Would you want me on a Major League team?
2. Todd Self, 1B, Mets: So says Dave.
1. Sandy Martinez, C, Mets: I didn't keep score at that one, but Martinez had something like 3 errors in 2 innings. He started with an errant throw to first on a bunt and a passed ball. Then, on a base hit to left, Lastings Milledge made a perfect throw home - only to have Martinez completely forget to catch the ball.

Players Who Should Make the Team but Won't

7. Joe Girardi, Manager, Marlins: Pretty soon he's going to realize he's better than most of the guys on his team. Can anyone name the last player-manager in the MLB?
6. Edward Mujica, , : Argh, I couldn't find a more recent picture. But picture this guy with a beard and long hair, and then tell me that he's not an intimidating reliever.

5. Jose Lima, SP, Mets: The first three innings of Lima's start went well. He didn't give up a run and was first pitch strike to almost every batter. But, as soon as he gave up a home run, he completely lost all composure. Still, he's Jose Lima - fun for the whole family! (And again there's the gratuitous wife crowd shot factor.)
4. Steve Karsay, RP, Indians: Supposedly he's been inconsistent this spring, but he looked decent in two appearances last weekend.
3. Lastings Milledge, OF, Mets: The #1 Mets prospect has been given an opportunity to play, and he hasn't disappointed. Now the natural center fielder just needs to find a position with Carlos Beltran in his spot.
2. Andy Marte, 3B, Mets: Aaron Boone has been hitting the lights out this spring, but Marte is definitely Major League ready.
1. Brian Bannister, SP, Mets: He's been the best pitcher in Mets camp this spring. Maybe he will make the team after all.

Players Who Shouldn't Make the Team but Will

7. Scott Sauerbeck, RP, Indians: OK, he should make the team. I'll give him that. But he's far too inconsistent to be the team's lone lefty in the bullpen.
6. Anthony Lerew, RP, Braves: The Braves are auditioning closers, and Lerew flopped. He's still a good prospect, but he didn't show it on Thursday. I wish I could give you pitching stats, but the Mets program didn't have space for them.
5. Jeff Keppinger, IF, Mets: Keppinger is expected to be the Mets utility infielder. He may be decent, but he didn't show it filling in for Kaz Matsui on Thursday. Keppinger ended with two groundouts at the plate. In the field, he missed several balls that should be well within a Major League second baseman's range.
4. Preston Wilson, OF, Astros: No batspeed whatsoever.
3. Jorge Julio, RP, Mets: Julio is expected to be the 7th inning man for the Mets. The former Orioles closer had an ERA of 5.90 last year, and he hasn't shown signs of major improvement this spring.
2. Danny Graves, RP, Indians: The strike zone can be a tricky thing to find. On Friday, Graves gave up three walks, a hit, and a run in 2/3 an inning of work. On Saturday the numbers looked better - 1 hit, 0 walks, 1 K in 1 inning - but his control still wasn't there.
1. Kaz Matsui, 2B/SS, Mets: To quote Dave's dad, "We sent five guys to Japan and all we found was Kaz Matsui." Top 10 Mets prospect Anderson Hernandez had better keep his bus pass to Shea handy.

The Best Names

Yurendell DeCaster, IF, Pirates
Dan Uggla, IF, Marlins
Charlton Jimerson, OF, Astros
Felipe Paulino Del Guidice, P, Astros
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Braves: This catching prospect has an outside shot of breaking camp with the team.
Bartolome Fortunado, P, Mets
Lastings Milledge, OF, Mets: The top prospect in the Mets organization has given a decent performance this spring.
Nate Bump, SP, Marlins: Believe it or not, he's one of Florida's top returning starters.
Gookie Dawkins, IF, Pirates
JJ Furmaniak, IF, Pirates: Cause when you're a Furmaniak, you're a Furmaniak 4 Life.

Indians Prospect Report

Jason Cooper, OF: Cooper has risen through the ranks quickly. He just needs to complete the journey.
Jason DuBois, OF: 2 for 2 in the one game I saw. He's shown flashes of MLB competency. Has he finally put everything together?
Ryan Garko, 1B: A very large man. A year or two learning to become a first baseman and honing his hitting skills should be all he needs.
Jeremy Guthrie, P: The supposed burnout looked good in two innings of work. Of course, that was at the end of the game against seven second-stringers.
Franklin Gutierrez, OF: He's got tons of talent. Another year in the minors should do it.
Andy Marte, 3B: He'll start the season at AAA, but it looks like the Tribe got their money's worth.
Brandon Phillips, 2B/SS: Two K's and a walk in one game. He still looks like Willy Mayes Hayes in Major League II. (That is, a line-drive hitter who thinks he needs to be a power hitter.)
Kelly Shoppach, C: Hasn't had a great spring, but it's been attributed to trying too hard. He may still break camp with the team.

Notre Dame Alumni in Big League Camps

Craig Counsell, IF, Diamondbacks: Nursing a sore shoulder, Counsell is 3 for 8 with 3 RBI in two games as a DH this spring.
Aaron Heilman, SP, Mets: Back in the starting rotation, Heilman has given up 1 run in three abbreviated starts (9 total IP). The most impressive stat: 8 strikouts to 0 walks; he has hit two batters, however.
Brad Lidge, RP, Astros: Returning to the Astros after a stint as Team USA's closer, Lidge has pitched two uneventful innings.
Steve Stanley, OF, Athletics: Stanley played five games in the big league camp from 2003-2005. He is not with the A's Major Leaguers this year.
Brian Stavisky, OF, Athletics: In his first big league camp, Stavisky has played one game, going 0 for 2 with a strikeout.
Danny Tamayo, SP, Royals: Tamayo is well-respected in the Kansas City organization. He did earn a start in the Major League camp, but surrendered 5 runs in 1.2 innings pitched.