Everyone's working on fastball command

I've titled a Spring Training post this way before, it was after Jake Peavy giddily recapped a March shelling by revealing that he had just been grooving 89 mph fastballs to different quadrants of the strike zone all afternoon, while a few thousands diehards who paid for tickets and airfare under the guise that they would be seeing baseball, eagerly watched. "Is Jake Peavy broken/dead/in permanent decline/masking a grievous injury" thinkpieces evidently had a lot of merit at any given time, but Spring was always a weird place to start.

Jeff Samardzija got tagged for two runs in his first inning of a split-squad farce Wednesday--the first of any kind of practice work all year--including some of hot yoga enthusiast Micah Johnson's early job drive (3-4, three steals, two runs), and spent the post-game being grateful that his arm still works. It's important for him, financially.

It’s good to feel the arm. My arm feels great. It’s coming out real good. You do what you do to keep getting stronger and build from here.
— Jeff Samardzija

Of course, as Samardzija joked, we can't even verify the claims that the arm is indeed feeling strong.

Sitting 98, 99 [mph], you know. Touching 100,
— Jeff Samardzija

Oh hahahaha, Jeff, yes, we have no idea because there are no radar guns or reliable velocity information. Remember when we just went into the season not anticipating utter disaster for Erik Johnson? Thrilled to remember that's always possible.

There's also the recent case of John Danks, who really was getting tagged all Spring because he was washed. There's not a perfect hard and fast rule for Spring Training results, other than to lean toward trusting what aligns with existing expectations.

--John Danks' is diminished after shoulder surgery: Expected

--Jake Fox is a beast: Unexpected!

--Adam Eaton always gets on base: Expected

--2011 Adam Dunn is not tapping into his power: Bad example

 The point is not to allow Spring Training to move the needle on judgments that you've already comfortably made.

Awwww nuts no no no no no ALL I KNOW IS REGRET.

The only real stories that are worthwhile are injuries, or perhaps advanced Visa issues. That means the incident where Chris Sale broke his foot, and spent 15 minutes goofing off when asked for an explanation, is the real stuff, and the baseball is to be brushed over. Speaking of real stories, here's one:

Hanrahan's injury is a big bummer for the Tigers, who really needed some reliable help in the bullpen this year, and is also an illustration of a point that stuck in my craw over this offseason. The praise of "low-risk" signings of injured players, justified by just plugging in the traditional career performance levels as something they will return to...I don't know...it doesn't seem like it approaches players as humans.

And another thing, while I'm rolling here, FanGraphs has not been the most popular website around these parts, on account of them projecting the Astros to be better than the Sox this season, but they're at least acknowledging and collecting data on how wrong we think they are. The White Sox are far and away the team everyone FG readers think projections are lowballing, even if the staff thinks this is just an "offseason champs" phenomenon.

They beat the runner-up by 28 points, because the voters really aren’t buying the 76-win projection. As a matter of fact, the projected win total actually went down a little upon the inclusion of ZiPS, so Steamer by itself was apparently a bit more optimistic. This is old hat: the White Sox had an incredibly busy offseason, trying to build a team that can contend as soon as this year, and there’s a lot of sex appeal at the top of the roster. Things drop off quickly from there, but as you can see, three-quarters of all voters think the projection is low by some amount. A third of them think the projection is low by quite a bit. The projections weren’t impressed all winter, but, maybe they’re wrong. Even if they aren’t, there’s a level of excitement that wouldn’t have existed around the White Sox if it weren’t for the aggressive maneuvering.
— Jeff Sullivan

Ah, well, whatever, you guys.

 

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