Spring Notes: Words, Just Words

The start of spring training means two things: 1) Opening day is almost here! 2) We’re about to be inundated with quotes from players and coaches about what type of shape players are in or what new mechanics player X worked on over the winter or which players will earn or lose a starting job based on a few meaningless games where the stats are themselves meaningless.

The quotes are already pouring out. Which words hold water and which are nothing more than words without meaning? 

Buster Posey will give you that oley bull $#!t

The Giants don’t want Posey to do something that catchers are required to do, block the plate. One can understand why they are telling him to oley incoming baserunners given the collision at the plate that cost him the bulk of his 2011 season, but it just seems wrong. Regardless of whether Posey stops blocking the plate or not, this statement clearly shows how important it is for the Giants to get his bat in the lineup. This could also mean that Posey sees significantly more time at 1B as well, which would help keep him fresh. Feel free to draft him as a top-5 catcher on draft day.

On the other side of the coin, this is bad news for those hoping for a comeback from Aubrey Huff and even worse news for keeper league owners of Brandon Belt, who seems to find a new way of not making the big league roster by the day. 

Casey Kotchman viewed as the Indians starting 1B

Well, that just about does it for Matt Laporta. The former top prospect has failed to do much of anything at the big league level despite hitting for plenty of power in the minor leagues. If the Indians still saw enough potential in him, they would not have felt the need to sign Kotchman. Unlike LaPorta, Kotchman is coming off of a pleasant season in which he helped fantasy teams by hitting over .300 and helped the Rays on both sides of the ball, playing very solid defense. However, those expecting Kotchman to hold much fantasy value in 2012 will likely be disappointed. Kotchman is a .268 career hitter with very little power who benefited from a career high .335 BABIP last season.

Lonnie Chisenhall must earn a starting job

Despite being one of the Indians’ best prospects, 23-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall will not be handed the everyday third base job. Instead he’ll battle it out this spring with the defensively enriched Jack Hannahan.

Fantasy GMs hoping to find sleeper value in Chisenhall will have to wait until the end of spring training to find out if the job is his, but even at that, expectations should be tempered. Chisenhall doesn’t have a great track record against left-handed pitching and only moderate power potential, so his overall upside, even long-term, is limited.

I thought he would struggle upon his call-up last season, giving him a quick eyeball projection of .244/.337/.440 with seven home runs and one stolen base for the rest of the season. He hit .255/.284/.415 with seven home runs and one steal.

Ryan Howard ahead of schedule, but heavier than usual

Howard is already a rather large human being, but his Achilles made it impossible for him to train as he normally would have over the offseason. While reports indicate that Howard might be ready to return in May, I fear that he won’t be in game shape for quite some time after that. Let’s also not forget that Howard played through an Achillies strain late last season before he ruptured the tendon in the playoffs. Some might see Howard as a value on draft day, I see him as a potential season-long source of frustration.