Measured Responses to Cactus League Games
By Sean Davis
Spring Training baseball is a tricky thing. The games don’t count for anything, other than players simply getting their feet wet and readjusting to the life of a baseball player. But at the same time, they’re still baseball games being played by Major League Baseball teams, so it’s only natural to try to make sense of what it all means. There are some who think a player’s performance is foretelling of how they’ll perform during the regular season, then, there are some who completely disregard anything and everything that takes place on a Cactus or Grapefruit League field. I tend to fall on the disregard anything I see during Spring Training side, so when I see people flip out over each and every game I can’t help but chuckle to myself.
The A’s have played 4 whole games of the 35 game schedule leading up to Opening Night versus the Seattle Mariners. Yet there are some crazy overreactions that some might be experiencing right now based on those 4 games. I’ll admit, I may actually be guilty of one of those overreactions. So let’s take a look at what kind of things people might be saying right now.
“Hiro Nakajima can’t hit major league pitching, and the A’s should make Jed Lowrie the everyday shortstop from now on.”
February 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima (3) poses for a picture during photo day at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
So the guy went 0-6 with 5 strikeouts before getting his first hit Tuesday afternoon. Not the most auspicious debut in America. Surely there’s an adjustment to the competition here in the United States, and there are a lot of eyes on him across the Pacific. Even in Spring Training Nakajima has to be feeling some level of pressure from all that. He’ll be fine, he’ll hit, trust me on this one.
“Jemile Weeks will be the starting second baseman on Opening Night.”
With a double and a nifty defensive play in the first game of the Spring, Jemile Weeks certainly seemed to be showing a little bit of the spark that he brought to the team in 2011. While it certainly seems plausible he could push his way into the regular lineup once again, the acquisition of Jed Lowrie and the return of Scott Sizemore seems to indicate the A’s brass has little faith in his ability to do such a thing. Stranger things have happened though.
“Michael Choice and Addison Russell should be on the 25 man roster at the beginning of the regular season.”
I don’t have the vocabulary to appropriately illustrate how insane this idea is. Sure the two of them have gotten off to hot starts in the A’s first 4 games, and are undoubtedly making an impression, but they are not ready to be on a major league roster. Choice will, and should begin the season at Triple A Sacramento, and Russell is slated to head to Double A Midland; that’s where they both belong.
“The A’s bullpen will be a weakness in 2013.”
Many of the primary relievers for the Athletics haven’t even pitched in their first games yet, and those that have are middle relievers at best. The guys who’ve been coughing up all these runs are way down on the depth chart or they simply are in big league camp to gain a little experience. That said, even if it were Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook getting shelled I wouldn’t panic…. because it’s Spring Training!
There’s a long way to go folks, so do your best to keep an even keel through all the highs and lows of the Cactus League. Some guys perform well in exhibition games, some don’t because there simply isn’t the same motivation. Whatever the performance, and whatever the reason for it, it’s best to just kick back and relax and be happy that baseball is back!