SweetSpot: Vinnie Catricala
Recommended reading for Tuesday ...
- One of my favorite pieces of the season: Colleague Jim Caple reveals all the early spring training storylines.
- The Astros will be wearing their old Colt .45s throwback jerseys this year. However, as Paul Lukas reports, there is one major problems with the replica jerseys: They're not replicas.
- Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts has his spring training primer for the Dodgers. Jon has 22 locks for the Opening Day roster and one of the non-locks may be a surprise to you.
- Some have concerns about the Angels bullpen, but they could have a secret weapon in Bobby Cassevah. I actually think the Angels' pen could end up being a strength, especially if Jordan Walden improves upon his rookie season. Scott Downs, Rich Thompson, Cassevah, LaTroy Hawkins and Hisanori Takahashi provide depth in middle relief. Including Walden, those six combined for a 2.69 ERA in 2011.
- Pro Ball NW takes a look at what to expect from Justin Smoak in 2012 and addresses Eric Wedge's suggestion that Chone Figgins will be given a chance to win the leadoff spot. Look, Wedge is supposed to say nice things about his players early in spring training. I still think the odds are slim that Figgins has anything left after two terrible seasons. The big issue for the Mariners is trying to figure out the logjam at third base in the upper minors. They have (1) Kyle Seager, who profiles more as a utility infielder or second baseman (where he's blocked by Dustin Ackley) but posted a 96 OPS+ in 201 PAs with the Mariners in 2011 (not great, but better than Figgins); (2) Alex Liddi, a 23-year-old who mashed 30 home runs at Tacoma but also hit .259 and struck 170 times; (3) Francisco Martinez, the key guy acquired in the Doug Fister trade, who played most of last season at age 20 in Double-A and hit .289/.321/.426; (4) Vinnie Catricala, one of my favorite players in the minors, who hit .347/.420/.632 in 62 games at Double-A but carries a shaky glove. Personally, I'd like to see Seager win the third-base job, let Liddi play another year in Triple-A, start Martinez in Double-A since he needs to work on his strike-zone appreciation (24 walks in 2011) and move Catricala to left field, where he played some last year.
- Amanda Rykoff, blogger for ESPNW, is a huge baseball fan and has a good primer on some advanced stats -- many of which we mention here all the time and don't always explain to the uninitiated.
- Fun quiz now that potential future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez signed with the A's: Can you name all 12 Hall of Famers who played for the Oakland A's? Take the SportsNation quiz. You have four minutes. It's harder than you think.
- Blake Street Bulletin is going position-by-position in previewing the Rockies: Third base may not necessarily be given to Casey Blake, not with hotshot prospect Nolan Arenado on the rise.
- Barry Zito is still around. And the Giants may actually need him to generate some value this year, writes Chris Quick.
- Good research piece by J.P. Breen at FanGraphs, looking at which teams have developed the most talent via the draft since 2002. No. 1: the Red Sox. No. 30: the Mariners, with the amazingly low total of just 8.9 WAR. (The study doesn't include international signings like Felix Hernandez.)
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