Spring training baseball, ain't it great! Actually, it really isn't great. The play tends to be sloppy, disjointed and full of players you have never heard of and never will hear of. It just seems great because it is actual baseball and we haven't seen that in months. I guess that makes it still great, just on a relative basis.
With the overrated greatness of spring training games comes the over-thought analysis of spring training games. We know it is wrong, yet we still do it anyway. We can't help it, we're baseball junkies.
Alas, I am not immune to any of this, thus I think it is high time we dive deep into some probably worthless, premature analysis of the incredibly small sample size of four Angels spring training games:
- I mentioned it in the links this morning, but it merits further discussion. I generally assumed that Hank Conger was going to start the season in the minors so that Chris Iannetta could proceed unfettered as the starting catcher. But with him catching twice and playing in all four games thus far, it looks like Hank is going to get a real shot at winning the back-up catcher spot. That is a major development because if Hank is on the big league roster, he is going to need to play so as not to stunt his development. How that shakes out will be worth monitoring because it will have a big impact on how much Iannetta plays and even whether or not Iannetta stays with the Angels beyond this season.
- Four games and still no Scott Downs. Maybe it just isn't his turn to pitch yet, but this certainly doesn't make me feel any better about that rumor of the Angels seeking a lefty. Is Downs nursing an injury we don't know about? Probably not, but it is in the back of your mind now, isn't it? Other Angel relievers that have not appeared yet include fellow old guys LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen and young guy with some shoulder tightness Bobby Cassevah. I can only conclude that it means Downs hasn't pitched because he is old, injured or both.
- One reliever who has pitched is Rich Thompson. He's pitched twice, actually. He's pitched poorly twice, to be more exact. He may have just been working on things or shaking off rust, but if there is one incumbent Angel reliever that can't afford a bad spring, it is Thompson. He's out of options and the coaching staff has never seemed to trust him much, so I don't think they'll think twice about releasing him if they need his roster spot for another reliever.
- I've never gotten an opportunity to see Jean Segura in action before and I think we can all safely say that the kid can handle shortstop. Nobody asked me, but he has my seal of approval now. I'm sure he is ecstatic about it. Someone who shouldn't be ecstatic is Erick Aybar. If Segura can stay healthy this season, the Angels may be more than happy to let Aybar walk with Segura taking over for him.
- It doesn't make much sense to have him compete for a rotation spot, but out of all the Angel pitchers who worked two innings in one appearance, Hisanori Takahashi is the only reliever of the bunch. I have a hard time believing he is being converted to a starting pitcher without any real notice, but maybe the Angels called an audible because of Jerome Williams tweaking his hammy. Or maybe they just like the idea of Taka being a reliever who can go multiple innings, which is a good idea, but having him start off throwing two innings seems awfully aggressive if that is the case.
- I'd like to thank whichever Angel player it is that doesn't wash his hands when he is sick for infecting multiple players with the flu. Sure, that means we aren't going to see Mike Trout for a week, but it also means that Bobby Abreu has been too sick to complain to the media about anything and everything. Kudos to you and your poor hygiene, sir.
- What I don't get about spring training is why they can't bend the rules more. The Angels want to get Mark Trumbo some work at third base, but aren't ready to let him run the bases yet, so they started him the other day and lifted him when his spot in the order came up. Can't the two managers just agree to make an exception to the rules and let Trumbo stay in as a fielder? It isn't like the record books are going to be sullied or like the games actually count for anything.
- Three games played and Albert Pujols is still undefeated as an Angel. Anyone want to take bets on the date when the Halos suffer their first loss of the Pujols era? My money is on April 25th. (That's only half-joking. Have you seen how obscenely easy the Angels' April schedule is?)