A dozen thoughts:
–The Padres may have lost Cameron Maybin for a while, but I like this team as a wild card dreamer. With Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross developing, the staff ERA dropped from 4.22 to 3.62 after the break, Joe Wieland, off TJ, has been up to 96, Ian Kennedy is reliable, especially in Petco, and anything they get from Josh Johnson is gravy. Remember, they began 2013 with Jason Marquis, Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard in the rotation.
–Saturday was Yasmani Grandal’s first game, albeit a simulated one. But he was fluid, quick, loose in all his defensive actions, and is a very important figure for them in 2014.
–The Mariners medical staff believes Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker will be back by mid-April. It’s been pointed out that Iwakuma’s index finger injury is different from the one that sidetracked Adam Miller’s promising career with the Indians. Miller’s problem was in the flexor side of the finger, Iwakuma in the back. By the way—Dustin Ackley looks like a totally different hitter, and not just because this is Arizona. Reminds me of Bill Buckner, circa 1974.
–It looks like former Yankee Abraham Almonte is going to win the Mariners center field job, switch-hitter with speed and life.
–Kyle Seager was going into the Dodgers facility for a Saturday night game. A kid asked for an autograph. Seager said he was late for stretching. “Doesn’t matter,” said the kid. “Your brother’s a lot better than you are.” Corey Seager is one of the Dodgers’ best prospects.
–The Braves are very concerned about Kris Medlen’s injury, with Mike Minor out for the start of the season, Tim Hudson gone and Gavin Floyd three months from being ready. “We love J.R. Graham and Shae Simmons,” says one scout, “but they need time.” Seems as if the Braves always find pitching. Incidentally, Oakland matched San Francisco’s dollars on Hudson, but he preferred pitching in the National League
–The Tigers are looking around for a lefthanded-hitting outfielder to replace Andy Dirks, as well as a backup shortstop. But do not ask for Rick Porcello.
–On almost every day’s Scouting Bureau report it mentions that Adam Jones either “plays really hard” or “runs really hard.” With Nick Markakis coming off a surgery-free off-season that allowed him to put on 15-20 pounds, the Orioles outfield could be a lot of fun to watch play “really hard” every day, and that’s without mentioning David Lough.
–Kevin Gausman was 94-to-99 Saturday night with a great changeup. Even if the O’s don’t sign Ervin Santana, Gausman might start the season in Norfolk, with Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris in the rotation. Norris could move to the end of the bullpen, and Gausman is likely to be a part of the Baltimore run in the AL East. It also could be as a closer, as he is essentially a fastball-change pitcher who has tried to find a breaking ball, and that strong two pitch mix is probably enough for 5-6 outs.
–One NL executive: ”The Mets are going to be a lot better than people think. The pitching is going to be good, and they can play a three centerfielder outfield. In another year, they’re going to have the best young pitching in the National League, with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard (sitting 99), Zack Wheeler and that lefthanded kid Steven Matz, who is very impressive. They may be a serious threat to contend in another year.”
–The day’s best read on the site may be Gerry Fraley’s piece on Colby Lewis and his recovery with resurfacing hip surgery. NHLer Ed Jovanovski is the only major league pro athlete to have this surgery, and watching Lewis Sunday, he looked very different from two years ago, when he walked to the mound looked as if he were walking the line in a sobriety test. He must have endured incredible pain just to get the mound.
–A couple of radar gun notes: Reds uber prospect Robert Stephenson 96-99 with an excellent curveball, the look of a number one starter. Joaquin Benoit 93-96 for the Padres. Tyler Skaggs 92-95, in and out, and Garrett Richards up to 99.