Little doubt now that the Braves are ready to go with the aforementioned Jordan Schafer in center. For real. This year.
The last impediment was finding somebody who would take Josh Anderson off their hands – he’s out of minor league options. The Tigers accepted, payment in the form of a 25-year old AA-pitcher named Rudy Darrow who has fought back from Tommy John surgery and might be a middle relief candidate sooner rather than later.
But it might as well have been Clarence Darrow. As I understand the way the Bravos’ thinking evolved this spring, it went from 1) Gregor Blanco in front with Anderson as an acceptable alternative and Schafer as a long shot, to 2) Blanco sliding to the back of the pack, to Schafer looking so sharp that they began to try to deal Anderson to clear a path for him before opening day, to 3) a fallback of keeping Anderson for a little while after Opening Day and sending Schafer to keep in shape in Richmond while they continued to try to trade Anderson, to 4) committing to Schafer and resigning themselves to losing Anderson on waivers if necessary.
Anderson has proved himself a superior baserunner, decent centerfielder, and adequate hitter in each of the last two Septembers. But given the Astros’ inexplicable desire to trade for Michael Bourn when they already had a Bourn-like figure in Anderson, and the Braves’ willingness to sacrifice Anderson to give Schafer a clear path, one assumes his own teams have seen weaknesses in his bat that would be soon exposed over a full major league season.
In any event this underscores the Schafer point below. Pure fans, step back and admire what is to come from the kid. Fantasy players, grab him and tell no one of what you have seen this day.
Promised a few National League notes for anybody still drafting, as soon as my league was set, and here they are (the American League auctions next Sunday, so I doubt that will be of any use to anybody, but I’ll try to put in some abridged notes then, too).
k (mine), my offense rounding out nicely, but my bullpen – in a Saves and Holds league – empty except for Broxton. And I pick… Edgar Renteria. I do not know what I was thinking.
First, thanks to all who posted comments. Let me violate the standard format of responding by addressing topics and not individuals (to quote Billy Crystal from a long time ago, “and you know who you are”).
Do not be overwhelmed by the 15 homers propelled yesterday in Surprise by the Angels and Royals, nor any other offense you see in the Arizona boxscores. An unrelenting 20 MPH wind blew across the fields of the Cactus League. Cars wobbled on highways, at least one canopy was toppled at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, and Randy Wolf pounded the Rangers for two long hits, including a two-run double.
ON THE OTHER HAND
It’s not like the Dodgers managed to turn the wind off as Wolf shut down a Texas lineup that included Josh Hamilton on two hits over six (six strikeouts). The positioning of the otherwise splendid new park the Blue share with the White Sox appears to have been done in the dark. The sun will not let up on the batters; the batters’ eye in centerfield is about half standard size, and the Dodgers’ bullpen is uncovered and does not see shade until nearly sunset. The players have less of a chance of being grilled than do Dodger Dogs.
MISLEADING HEADLINE OF THE DAY: MARTINEZ REJOINS DODGERS
That’d be Ramon Martinez, who celebrated his 41st birthday yesterday by sitting in the dugout of the team for which he won 123 games in the eleven seasons ending in 1998. The former 20-game winner – who set the land-speed record for going from being “The Martinez,” to “He’s Pedro’s Brother” – looked not much heavier than the 165 at which he pitched for the Dodgers’ last champions. He knew nothing of his brother’s chances, silently underscoring the mumbles of the spring: that Pedro’s WBC performance did not resonate, and with his killer fastball down to 90, is unlikely to find a home this year – or at least not a prominent one.
The skinny blond guy in the Rangers’ uniform staying low-key in the tunnel between the clubhouses and the field was not a minor leaguer summoned to take the road trip in hopes of a late-game at bat. It was actor Owen Wilson, getting into what is apparently his next character – that of pitcher – in his next film, opposite Reese Witherspoon. Coincidentally, Ms. Witherspoon was on The Tonight Show last Wednesday with your faithful Nerd, and offered viewers a bewildering variety of jokes based on the German words “Ausfahrt” and “Einfahrt.”
Like the relaxed pace and increased interaction of Spring Training wasn’t thrill enough. This is the start of my 43rd year as a fan, my 43rd year attending games, and my 43rd year of keeping score. On Saturday in Phoenix, I witnessed, for the first time, a triple play. First and second, Oakland’s Bobby Crosby with a solid one-hopper to Ryan Rohlinger of the Giants. Rohlinger unsuccessfully tried to tag elusive Oakland runner Matt Carson, fired to Matt Downs at second for one out, who relayed to Scott McClain at first for another. That’s when it became evident Carson had been called out for leaving the baseline. A double play is, of course, scored by writing the position numbers (5-4-3) and circling them. A triple play requires two circles. Making my first “second circle” was the thrill of the spring