We would all like to think that we love baseball for the intrinsic qualities of the game. Its wonderful mix of trends, probability, and random chance, the athleticism, the strategy, its raw visual splendor. But if that were really true, Spring Training baseball would be enough. It's the sport being played by the best baseballers (not a word) in all the world, after all.
But something is missing, isn't it? It's the thrill of competition. The wonder that is victory, and the sadistic pleasure that is defeat.
If you were really empathizing with the last part of that sentence, then today was great day, because the White Sox made their first round of cuts from the major league camp.
For most, this isn't really a blow. It simply marks an end to the
portion of Spring Training where the club gives a brief look at how
their developmental projects stack up as is, and they transfer back to
the minor league camp to get more sustained work in. Maybe some of
these types are peeved to be getting the boot, but that would make them
Examples of this sort might be outfielder Brandon Short and relief pitcher Kyle Bellamy,
ages 22 and 23 respectively. Both of these guys have yet to achieve
mastery of Double-A ball at this point in their careers. Neither looked
hopeless, but Short had a few too many feeble at-bats and Bellamy's
control was a little too shaky to justify continuing the charade of them
competing for a roster spot going.
Jared Price is in the system primarily for catching depth, turns 29 in about a week, and probably got the real bad news about his pro prospects some years back.
I admit myself tempted to place Charlie Leesman
in this category as well. Leesman, 24, is well-thought of and viewed
as a future rotation member which, unfortunately, separates him from
almost every other pitcher in the team's minor leagues. It'd be one
thing to carry him in the big leagues if he can provide a boost like
Chris Sale, it's another thing to have him be just another guy gunning
for the garbage innings with a bunch of other 'just another guys', when
he could be making starts.
It's been nothing but war on Josh Phegley's pro career recently.
First, there was the blood platelet condition that robbed him of most
of his 2010 season, then the Sox retained all their major league
catching options, then Tyler Flowers re-emerged as a intriguing
prospect, and then Phegley's throws started taking unplanned
trips to center field. With all the work he's had to do to get back
where he was, Phegley wasn't at Camelback Ranch to make the team. But,
being 23 and able to throw out baserunners gives him two things no one
above him has.
For Lucas Harrell and Jhonny Nunez, the situation seems a
bit more dire. Both are 25 and approaching a reality where 'prospect'
will no longer be an applicable term, and both didn't get the look they
figured to see in the battle for the final pitching spot on the team.
Harrell made multiple starts for the team in 2010, and looked to be in
competition to even fill in for Jake Peavy temporarily, but is now
getting dumped out of the race after one awful--albeit, quite
awful--start. Nunez, didn't even get that much consideration, facing
only one batter before getting ditched.
There's always going to be spots open throughout the season,
but to be this far down the ladder at this age doesn't bode well for
either guy. Uhh...don't buy jerseys.
ADDENDUM: While looking for stuff to link to, this quote Melissa Miller had in her daily wrap-up stuck out. Guillen had some words about Harrell
on his departure, and might as well have been eulogizing him. Of
course, it was the type of eulogy you give to someone you murdered.
"He should be disappointed in himself. We gave him
the opportunity. We gave him everything. The first meeting I had, I told
him we'd give him a chance. What we saw is not what we're looking for.
You've got to go out there and throw strikes."
Of course, J.J. wrote about this as well. He knows more about the minor-league system, so that merits consideration.
Jim Margalus wonders if the organization is going to give Tyler Flowers' bullish Spring performance the attention it deserves.
Mike DePilla at White Sox mix somehow managed to make me feel worse about Teahen than I did before, and elicited chuckles while doing so.
Confused? Annoyed? Read my stat primer. It's a fun read...at least as far as stat primers go.