Decision time is near

Updated: March 18, 2010, 12:50 PM ET
By Buster Olney
After watching Ben Sheets get pounded by the Cincinnati Reds the other day, Oakland GM Billy Beane began fashioning an answer for reporters who might ask about Sheets' ugly line. Beane decided right away that he was not going to offer the timeworn mantra of "Hey, it's only spring training."

Sure, the numbers won't count for a while. But at some stage of March, as Beane said the other day, "it's time to start getting some outs."

This time in spring training, with about 2½ weeks to go, seems to be about the time when spring training performance begins to harden evaluations and affect planning.

But performance isn't necessarily reflected in statistics, said Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. "If I see Brian Bruney's velocity going up a tick each time out, from the start of spring training to now, where he's at 93-94 mph, that's a positive result, regardless of the statistics. I see progress."

The Yankees see progress in Joba Chamberlain: "He had a great slider, right from the start [Wednesday]," said one evaluator -- "and he was throwing hard."