Shake off the Rust: Back to Baseball! Shields, Beane, Yankees, Mets, Padres

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james-shields-house-leadHOLLYWOOD, CA – It’s still the off season, pitchers and catchers are over a week away from reporting to camp, and it’s time for me to start shaking the rust off as well, playing catch outside and trying to catch up on all the goings on around baseball:

Hope still springs eternal for everyone except Mets fans… well, sane Mets fans anyway. Curtis GrandersonSeriously, how long before Michael Cuddyer makes you nostalgic for Jason Bay? Expecting him to repeat even half his Coors stats is like expecting Curtis Granderson to hit home runs without Yankee Stadium’s porch. Still, the smart guys at Baseball Prospectus predict a winning season for them at 82-80, ten games behind the Nationals but hey, it’s the Nationals, so maybe it’s not that crazy to dream.

BmFYr9bIEAAQpwhAt any rate…

Wait, this picture is a year old?! Houston joined the AL West last year you say? Did I comment on it then? What does it say about a city if it can be moved to the west and nobody notices? Still, even with asshats and the lowly Astros, the AL West looks like it could be the best division in baseball this year.

18 years running the front office of the A’s, Billy Beane is the longest tenured GM in the American League and thus the new “old school” guy, and he had a busy off season – even by his standards. Nine trades involving 27 players, but who knows, at this point only a fool would bet against the A’s making the playoffs (and only a fool would bet on them once they do). Still, only time will tell if he sold high on Josh Donaldson.

images(2)The Cuban National Team won the Caribbean World Series yesterday for the first time since before the Bay of Pigs. Something to do with our easing up on the sanctions and immigration policy? They did it without their latest phenom to come to the MLB, Yoan Moncada, a switch-hitting middle-infielder stud who is clear to sign with any drooling MLB team (the biggest puddle of which seems to be accumulating under the Yankees). Might he be the last of the true defectors?

cuba win_600x400

Final free agent hold-out, James Shields, finally found a home to pitch his big games. The Yankees have a projected starting rotation (Sabathia, Tanaka, Pineda, Nate Eovaldi and Chris Capuano) of retreads and re-feds, so naturally they were not interested. (Baseball Prospectus picked them to finish 80-82, by they way). They need all that money to pay for Moncada. So, Shields is on his way to

…San Diego, where the Friars have gotten ready for their next roast with a windfall of big bats and bad outfield routes by adding Will Myers, Matt Kemp, and Justin Upton. That’s some good star-power, but is it powerful enough to hit more balls out of that giant park than the routine flies that will go over their heads?

Foreign stars coming to play, injured stars trying to come back, A-Rod training with Barry Bonds, the Braves completely dismantled, the Cubs expecting Anthony Rizzo to lead them, it all sounds like so much crazy talk and none of it will be relevant in a month when all the new stories start. It can’t get here fast enough.

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West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.

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