Ray’s Ramblings: Early Spring Notes
It's a trip around camps in this edition of the Ramblings. Glasnow had a great outing. Joe Maddon is tinkering like a mad scientist, Braun doesn't need practice. Beltre is still hurt. McCullers and Nola are coming along.
Adrian Beltre still won’t rule himself out for the WBC despite reports that he wouldn’t play because of his calf issue. Beltre trying to gut it out for his country is admirable, but at the same time, do we want a soon to be 38 year old to push himself in February to play in meaningless games? This situation is concerning to me.
Ryan Braun went .285-25-84-87-24 in 2015 and people were a bit nervous. Last year he went .305-30-91-80-16 and people are still a bit nervous. Why? ‘Ray, he’s old and he used PEDs.’ (1) He’s 33, far from an age where we put a guy in an old folks home. (2) He did PED, yes, fine. He’s no longer doing PEDs. The last two seasons he’s averaged a fantasy line of .295-28-88-84-20. What the hell is wrong with that? Folks, that is elite production, not good, but ELITE. ‘Ray, he’s been hurt a lot of late.’ (1) So, what? He’s averaged .295-28-88-84-20 the last two years despite playing 140 and 135 games. (2) The Brewers plan is to allow Braun to rest in spring so that his body will hold up inseason. “If opening day was today I’m 100 percent ready for the season,” he said. "I need a week of spring training. I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.” Braun also went on to say the following. "I do think it makes sense to put guys in the optimal position to succeed, and that might be not playing all 162 games," Braun said.
Santiago Casilla hasn’t reported to the Athletics as he continues to work through visa issues. I still believe he’s at least a 50/50 call to lead the club in saves ahead of the likes of Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle.
No one is panicking yet, but Andrew DeSclafani has been scratched from his scheduled start with elbow woes. Andrew has a “tender” elbow after throwing batting practice, so the team will slow him down a bit to make sure it’s nothing. Maybe it is nothing. Maybe it’s something. It’s certainly not a positive for the soon to be 27 year old who had a 3.50 K/BB ratio and 1.22 WHIP last season over 123.1 innings.
Josh Donaldson has issues with his (calf), and the Jays are being very cautious with pushing him at all. Every report out there suggests that Donaldson will be fully ready to go by Opening Day. No reason to think that is inaccurate, but if you’re taking Donaldson in the first round, might you consider going in another direction just to be safe?
Tyler Glasnow has elite, off the charts stuff. There are only a handful of pitchers in the majors that can match the offerings he has. Alas, Glasnow often has no idea where he’s throwing the baseball. I mean like none. He has walked 4.4 batters per nine in the minors, and last season with the Pirates in seven outings he posted a 5.0 BB/9 rate. Guys can’t square him up, ever, but he cannot consistently throw strikes, ever. In his first spring outing Glasnow dominated with six strikeouts in two innings of work as he didn’t walk a batter. "Six strikeouts is always good," manager Clint Hurdle said. "As Spring Training plays out, hitters get sharper. I just like the fact he threw strikes. … It's nice to see anybody, when they put some changes in and put the hard work in, have some success with it." I’ve already started to hear from my followers that Glasnow is on the rise for 2017. Folks, I really hope that you were kidding. Two innings of work is going to erase five years of control struggles? Really? I’m heartened by reports that his changeup looked good, he picked up a new grip from Tony Watson, but please, I implore you, not to get ahead of yourself with Glasnow.
Joe Maddon is thinking about hitting Kyle Schwarber leadoff. Now his bright idea is for the Cubs to start six men in the rotation, even though they plan on a five-man rotation. Here’s what I mean. The Cubs plan on starting Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. They are sold with those four, as solid as any in baseball really. As for the fifth spot, and here’s the new angle, the Cubs plan on using Mike Montgomery AND Brett Anderson, two men sharing the 5th spot. "Maybe fold one back into the bullpen for a bit while the other one starts, or vice versa," Maddon said. "Or just jump a sixth guy in there now and then just to keep the other guys from being overworked too early while you're giving these guys some work." I’m all for Maddon and his out of the box thinking, but does he always have to try and prove how smart he is? Has this shared situation ever worked in baseball history at the big-league level? Is it smart to do this? I’m gonna suggest the answer to both question is no. Regardless, Anderson will end up hurt so my personal opinion is that this talk is simply nonsense as it will never last all season long.
Lance McCullers threw a 35-pitch round of batting practice Monday. Reports suggest he looked good and the ball came out of his hand well. I’m not sold. I wrote my Player Profile on McCullers late last week.
Aaron Nola (elbow) should make his debut Thursday against the Blue Jays. He had a sprain of his UCL last year and obviously, every time we hear that news we get very nervous about a hurler. Reports suggest that he’s close to 100 percent and that the team isn’t overly concerned that his arm is at high risk. That said, there are obvious health concerns. Though he tanked late last season, Nola struck out 9.81 batters per nine, walked just 2.35 per nine and had a 2.23 GB/FB ratio. Those are impressive numbers, and skills I love to see with a youngster.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).