Re-made Rays still a threat (cont.)
The Phillies have my sympathy. Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras will close, as Brad Lidge's shoulder pain will cause him to start the year on the disabled list. They will be an interesting team, with perhaps the greatest rotation of alltime (or at least since the 1954 Indians) and many unexpected holes.
Second base still looks like one of those holes for the Phils. Newly-signed Luis Castillo, through three days with them, has one surprise absence and two 0-for-4s.
Meanwhile, Rule V pickup Brad Emaus has the Mets' starting second base job, no matter whether they pretend there's still a competition ongoing. Daniel Murphy, who "can really hit,'' will be a utilityman, playing against righties a lot.
No. 1 draft choice Matt Harvey impressed Mets people by throwing 98 mph in Mets camp.
It appears the Mets may carry Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak and Blaine Boyer in the bullpen.
The Yankees' signing of Kevin Millwood to an incentive-lade minor league deal makes sense, giving them needed depth. Either Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon will be the No. 5 starter, at least at the start. Neither Garcia or Colon is believed willing to accept a minor-league deal. And the Yankees' trade of Sergio Mitre for outfielder Chris Dickerson seems to open the door for both Garcia and Colon to make the team, with one being a reliever (Colon might be better-equipped for that role).
One hint Austin Romine might make the Yankees as a backup over ballyhooed Jesus Montero was Romine catching A.J. Burnett in a B game recently. Russell Martin, the clear starter, had difficulty one game this spring, and that was one Burnett threw. As for the competition of who will be the Yankees' backup catcher, GM Brian Cashman said, "It depends on who you ask.'' Nobody asked me, but I'd take the defensively strong Romine, and let Montero catch fulltime at Triple-A.
The biggest question in Camp Sunshine (Dan Shaughnessy's term for the Red Sox) is the lefty relievers. Dennys Reyes seems likely to make it while Hideki Okajima's remaining option may work against him. Andrew Miller is an interesting case but has a big minor league salary so he'd probably accept a job in Triple-A Pawtucket as he continues to work on revamping his motion. New England native Rich Hill is also in the mix. Righthander Alfredo Aceves has had a very nice spring for them, too.
Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia appears finally ready to be a starting major-league catcher, one scout said. Jason Varitek is set as the backup. But the Red Sox would like a third catching option to play at Pawtucket if they could acquire one in trade.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle just sent me this text, quoting the great John Wooden: "Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.'' (I will refrain from a Pirates joke here.)
Not sure if there's cause-and-effect but after I quoted a scout saying Carlos Quentin looked "terrible,'' he went 10-or-11. He is a key for the White Sox.
Jake Peavy's original goal of returning by May 1 may still be met even though he doesn't look like he will make Opening Day now.
Scouts love rookie White Sox third baseman Brent Morel's defense. The team isn't expecting too much offense initially.
White Sox catching prospect Tyler Flowers is having a resurgence and could be a mid-year callup the way he's playing.
Cody Ross will miss the start of the season, which may cause Giants people to discuss more seriously a promotion for big-time prospect Brandon Belt. But most believe Belt will still start in the minors. Conceivably, they could play Aubrey Huff in the outfield to replace Ross, with Belt manning first base. Belt is considered one of the best two or three prospects in baseball. (Bryce Harper and Mike Trout would also be on that short list.)
The Astros are at a catching deficit with Jason Castro out for the year. Robinson Canecl, the ex-Met who was tearing it up in minor league camp, has been called up to the major league camp.
The Rangers tried but never came close to acquiring a closer, a virtual impossibility on short notice, so Neftali Feliz is the closer. Which no doubt pleases manager Ron Washington. Feliz didn't seem to mind either way, whether Feliz was a closer or reliever. Derek Holland and Matt Harrison were the logical choices for the rotation.
The Marlins made the right call sending hotshot 21-year-old Matt Dominguez to the minors. Dominguez would be one of the best defensive third baseman in the majors, but he showed he is not ready to consistently hit major league pitching. Owner Jeffrey Loria said, "He'll be up before the end of the year.'' But for now a hole remains. Backup Donnie Murphy and speedy Emilio Bonifacio are their in-house options. The Royals' Pedro Feliz, who's been mentioned in trade, would make sense. Jorge Cantu would also be better than what they currently have.
Hasn't enough time and money been wasted already on proving Barry Bonds took steroids?