Sunday, February 10, 2013

What To Expect When You're Expecting Spring Training To Start

You all know me as a person who steers clear of hyperbole, so you know I'm serious when I tell you there's 23 feet of snow in my yard and the idea that baseball is starting soon is the only thing keeping me from an irrevocable descent, Jack Torrance-like, into despondency and madness.

Alright, so maybe it's not as bad as all that.  Regardless, with Spring Training opening this week as pitchers and catchers report over the next several days, it's a bit dispiriting that without the means to jet off to South Florida and catch a few games, the rest of February and March are likely to be only slightly less baseball-free than the last few months have been.

That's not to say I'm not at least mildly excited.  There's plenty of time in May and June to fret about what the real world brings us, but in the meantime, Jays fans haven't had this much to look forward to in many years.  And one of the best things about spring is that it's not a time for tempered expectations or appeals to reason and realism -- even if the entire exercise is usually considerably less interesting once it starts than it felt like it was going to be in the period prior.  

One of the big differences in Dunedin this year as compared to years past is the fact that when it comes to competing for space on the plane going north, there aren't many open questions.  For instance, last season, John Farrell (bah! *spits*) was forced to piece together a starting rotation nobody truly expected to see when camp got underway, including a start from Joel Carreno in the third game of the season when Brett Cecil didn't make the Opening Day roster.  In 2013, if there are any questions about who will comprise the Jays' five-man rotation as the calendar turns to April, something will have gone dreadfully, horribly wrong.

Similarly, on the offensive side, any remaining areas of uncertainty relate more to the style of the roster than the substance.   The infield and outfield are largely set, save for sorting out the backup catcher battle and the Bonifacizturis situation at second base.  And as much as I'd have liked to see it, a right-handed DH platoon partner for Adam Lind is not walking through that door, so the approach to assembling the starting nine against left-handers still remains to be seen.  I've been keen on the notion of cycling some of the more capable right-handed bats -- Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis -- through the DH spot on those occasions as a half-day off.  The more flexible makeup of the bench would allow for it defensively, and I think it makes sense.

With all these questions mostly answered, though, and the prospect pipeline not gushing with as much must-see talent in the big league camp this year, it could make for -- dare I say it? -- a boring Spring Training this year.  But boring works.  Boring is good.  Embrace the boring, I say.

Besides, even a boring Spring Training is better than nothing.  The snow and the cold are starting to get to me.

No comments: