For those of you who, like me, are going through withdrawal now that the baseball season is over, I have these words. Hang in there, it’s only 107 days until February 15 when most of the players will be in Florida or Arizona for Spring Training 2015. On top of that, it is only 156 days until I will be in Tropicana Field to watch the Rays play the Eastern Division winning Baltimore Orioles to open the 2015 regular season.
To most of us real baseball fans that seems like a long time away. As Rogers Hornsby the St. Louis Cardinals’ great slugger, said when asked what he did in the winter when there was no baseball, ‘ I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ‘
I, like the great Rajah, will be doing a lot of staring out the window between now and Opening Day. In the meantime, though, there will be lots of activity to keep us interested during the long winter.
Already, Red Sox fans are worried because Rusney Castillo, their future center fielder from Cuba, has hurt his right thumb while playing in the Arizona Fall League and is going to miss the end of that season. On top of that, Bill Madden in the New York Daily News, reported that Yoenis Cespedes, who the Red Sox got from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Jon Lester, does not like it in Boston and, since, as Madden said, ‘ he marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him ‘, he would probably be traded. John Farrell came back shortly after to reassure everyone that Cespedes was in the Sox plans for 2015.
The Yankees are doing everything in their power to downplay the animosity generated last year between their front office and Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who is returning to the Yankees after a year long suspension in the Biogenesis scandal, still has three years and $61. million on his contract and will be back in the spring, at age 40, with two repaired hips. His skills were declining significantly before the suspension, who knows what value, if any, he will have to the Yankees.
The American League Champion Kansas City Royas wasted no time after losing Game 7 of the World Series in declining their option on designated hitter Billy Butler, their longest tenured player, who hit only .271 this year with just 9 homers and 66 RBI’s. Similarly, the Baltimore Orioles have declined to exercise their option on Nick Markakis, their veteran right fielder and lead off hitter, who hit .276 with 14 homers and 50 RBI’s last year. Despite the fact that both will hit the Free Agent market, both players and both clubs have expressed interest in reaching agreement to bring them back next year.
On the other hand, the Cardinals were quick to pick up their option on John Lackey, whose contract they obtained from the Red Sox last year and who, according to the terms of that contract, will pitch for the major league minimum salary of roughly $500,000. this year. Those same Red Sox just gave Koji Uehara, their 38 year old Closer, $18. million for the next two years even though he had a poor second half of last season.
Sometimes, baseball sounds like one big dysfunctional family, but this is just the beginning. It will get more and more interesting as the winter wears on. The Free Agent market has some interesting players and some teams will spend money like water to improve their chances even though the Giants and Royals, the two teams that made the World Series this year, were ranked seventh and nineteenth in total salary at the start of the 2014 season.