It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that Spring
Well, no hints nor flavor on the Bonds front as of yet (from any club -- Japan included), although our boys have begun to find an early collective rhythm through a dozen spring training games. Our record stands at both an A.L., and Grapefruit League-best 8-4 (from a % standpoint), and key pieces of the proverbial puzzle have shown early signs of success.
Delmon Young has surely been the Spring standout, and has been seemingly seeing hardballs the size of Grapefruits, as evidenced by his leviathan .474 average, and 12 total bases. Somebody called Randy Ruiz should also be noted for an impressive showing, with a .450 average and 17 total bases -- although he's a "Non-Roster Invitee," dons #73 and has yet to play an MLB game.
In addition, from a player standpoint, Francisco Liriano now seems to be finding something of an introductory groove back into the live pitching cycle, and Twins Country was able to collectively exhale when "The Franchise" tossed a solid 1 2/3 against the Red Sox on March 7 and didn't walk off the mound screaming "OH MY SWEET LORD MY ARM HAS NEVER BEEN THIS SHADE OF LAVENDER AND I CAN'T FEEL MY THUMBS!!!"
But what does all this mean? Well, the spring season is no doubt important for answering individual personnel questions, evaluating position battles, and gauging the respective health statuses of those harboring injury or returning from off-season injury. From a pure record standpoint, though, a stroll along the base paths of Springs Yore tells us that a club's record in spring means as much as a Sidney Ponson work visa. From 2003-'07, here are the respective percentages of teams who accrued Top 10 MLB Spring Training records who then ultimately went on to make the playoffs in said year:
2003: 30% 2004: 50% 2005: 20% 2006: 20% 2007: 30%
Furthermore, it should be noted that the past five World Series champions have amassed a combined record of 76-71 in the Spring, with two of these clubs posting below .500 records (Florida in 2003; Chi Sox in 2005) in the season before the season. In addition, these same 5 years have seen only a single instance in which a Top 10 spring team made it to the series (with Boston and St. Louis both noted in 2004). Lastly in this regard, it's perhaps notable that lowly Cincinnati has proven a perennial Grapefruit League powerhouse, with not just a winning record going into today's posting, but with winning spring records for four years running. The Reds have found the post-season just once since 1990. Perhaps new skip Dusty Baker can turn it around for them. But DON'T go to their website: It will hurt your eyes. I'm not kidding.
With Opening Day about three weeks away for our favorite club, let's focus on those position battles (especially in center field, where candidates Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, and Jason Pridie all still have a plethora of "proving" to do), and not get too caught up in the outcome of ballgames. The lure of the grapefruit, what with it's wealth of Vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene, should be approached with measured consumption. One or two taste good and are no doubt good for you. More than that and you're risking an acidic gut and the emergence of canker sores.
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