Games are finally starting and Hot Stove is officially over until November. Baseball is almost here and soon the rhythm of games will come back to the players like riding a bike. There are some injuries though that continue to occur in camps. Some of the injuries are season shattering and some are just bumps in the road. These injuries are evidence as to why there is never controversy with Spring Training like there is in NFL preseason games. Spring Training is like a filter that weeds out all the weak and soft players so that when the season rolls around, the strong and re-energized players are ready to initiate another long season.
As I mentioned before, Spring Training can shatter season dreams. This is exactly what has happened for the Cards. Just when you think the drama in St. Louis has mulled over (Pujols contract disputes) Adam Wainwright goes and gets himself hurt. This is obviously not his fault and unfortunately this is just baseball. Injuries to pitchers are common and they are so tough to swallow. Wainwright is now going to miss this season and some of next year's season. Wainwright will undergo Tommy John surgery and will have to just sit out and watch his team without him. Something interesting about this is that his rotation buddies (Garcia, Westbrook, and Carpenter) have all had Tommy John surgery. Since their surgeries, they are still very good pitchers. This surgery could be a blessing in disguise in the long run because of the popularity of Tommy John surgery in baseball. More and more pitchers are getting this surgery done because of injuries suffered and some to just strengthen and help their arms. The Cards will definitely have major setbacks because they are now more vulnerable in their division; particularly with the moves the Brewers made. The Cards are deciding now where they will go from here. Do they find a pitcher within their system/team or do they go and sign a pitcher? In my opinion, I think they should sign Kevin Millwood. He is a veteran that played on a horrible team last season (Orioles) and is now looking to bounce back. He dominated when he played in the National League (Atlanta and Philly) and I think he would make a good addition to their rotation.
The other injury looks to just be a bump in the road. Adrian Beltre has injured his calf. Apparently in the offseason Beltre injured his calf as he was running on a treadmill in his home and the injury has carried into Spring Training. The injury is not serious according to doctors and the Rangers are optimistic that this will not affect his season play. The Rangers are being extra careful with him though because of the expensive, multi-year contract they gave him. They have said that they will let him rest for about two weeks and then see where he stands. Luckily the injury is not too serious and Spring Training has really just begun so I believe this is not a problem for the Rangers. The funny part about this is now that the Rangers are in need of a third baseman, keeping Mike Young rather than trading him looks to have paid off already. The Rangers GM Jon Daniels decided that nothing teams were offering in exchange for Mike Young was worth making that move to trade him. They decided to keep him and use him as the super utility/DH player. With this injury to Beltre, Mike Young should now take over as the third baseman until Beltre returns. This is something that makes me wonder why Mike Young complained so much to begin with. I mean I know he lost his starting infield position (to a way better fielder) but because he has been in Texas so long he should've known the high rate of injuries that occur here. Kinsler and Beltre are both players that are known for have injuries during the season and that would mean more playing time in the field for Young. Mike is the number one back up in the infield (expect for SS). Daniels is coming out of this looking very smart since he did not deal Young to another team. Young could actually get more playing time than expected from a super utility man. No matter if it gets worse for Beltre, it looks like this will not phase Texas because of the versatility they have on their bench.
There are two teams that are looking to show that they have improved very much this offseason. The first is the Dodgers. Don Mattingly has now taken the managerial vacancy in LA and he is really incorporating his own philosophies into the mix. The Dodgers resigned Ted Lilly after acquiring him mid-season last year and they also signed Jon Garland who his re-ignited his career last season in San Diego. Last year, Chad Billingsley somehow was off and pitched poorly but I doubt that will occur again. With the rotation in LA looking to be: Kershaw, Garland, Lilly, Billingsley (not in that order); I really think that they will compete even more with SF and Colorado than they have in a couple of years. They added some power in LF with Marcus Thames as well as at catcher with Rod Barajas. Juan Uribe is coming off a hot post season after he won his second WS ring with SF (first won WS with Chi Sox). LA is now looking to have some of that momentum in Uribe shift down south from SF. The Dodgers are definitely better looking on paper and we'll see if they can live up to their abilities even under a financial struggling front office. I mean Texas last year went to the WS after being bankrupt 95% of the season. Maybe the Dodgers will fare better under similar circumstances.
The second team that has improved is the Chicago White Sox. Last year they acquired Manny at the trade deadline to make a run at the playoffs but fell short. Chicago went out this offseason and resigned Paul Konerko to a 3 yr deal (very smart move) and signed big bat Adam Dunn to platoon at first and be the DH. Jake Peavy is looking good as well and should be at full strength by the end of April in my opinion. The only hole that seems uncertain for the Sox is their third baseman. They have a prospect they like (Brent Morel) and they have a vet they signed last year Mark Teahan, but are still uncertain as to who will start. In my opinion I'd start Mark strictly because he proved himself as a good hitter and fielder in KC (a horrible team) and last year was Mark’s first year in Chicago. He was constantly being moved around along with Gordon Beckham in the infield. Chicago really looks strong with Konerko at first, Beckham at second, Ramirez at SS, and Teahan at third. If Teahan is given the starting spot I think he'll comfortably be able to perform like he did in KC. The Sox outfield looks to be strong too. Alex Rios had a real bounce back year and I think Carlos Quentin just had a down year last season. With Dunn rounding out the DH, the Sox will be very strong in the central and the Twins and Tigers will have to battle that much harder to win that division.