Boston's catching needs, Toronto's third-place dreams, more mailbag
Welcome to the season's first mailbag. Technically it's the second, but I'm putting an asterisk next to
So much for that idea. I don't think the continued exclusion of Jackson and Rose has as much to do with the sensitivity of the times in which they played as the nature of the crime they committed. Betting on baseball is the game's cardinal sin, and that is what Jackson and Rose did. There are signs in every clubhouse spelling out the egregiousness of betting on the game, and Rose did it anyway. He also didn't do himself any favors by continuing to deny he gambled and then only coming clean once he had a book to sell. The crimes committed by steroid users were no less acceptable, but they occurred in a culture that allowed that behavior to grow. Betting on the game has been intolerable for decades.
There were reports during the offseason that the Rangers were looking for Boston to include
The Rangers, meanwhile, not only have Salty and Teagarden (the better defender of the two) but also 24-year-old
Fans always have been and always will be able to reach into the field of play, and not just to disrupt a home run ball (as Chicago Cubs fans remember all too well). Being close to the action makes for a better experience for the fans, a better environment for the players and a more exciting atmosphere in the ballpark and on television. That alone is reason enough to keep fans as close to the field as possible, but it isn't the only reason, and I'll give you one guess as to what that other reason is. If teams have an opportunity to sell tickets by putting seats right at the fence, they will. Baseball is a business, and money, especially in difficult economic conditions, will continue to influence much of a franchise's decision-making. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.
Sure, the Astros can hope for many things this season -- short of making it to October, that is. After a 1-6 start, the Astros are already four games out in the National League Central and there haven't been many bright spots, either. They rank last in the league in runs, last in on-base percentage and 14th in ERA. There simply don't appear to have enough pitching to stay competitive in the NL Central this year.
I think a lot of it will depend on what other information comes out about him and the rest of the Steroids Era between now and when he's eligible in 2013. Clemens' appearance in the Mitchell Report, and the claims of his trainer,
To get over .500, the Royals would have to improve by eight wins over a season ago. That's a reasonable goal for a team that has increased its wins totals by six, seven and six wins the past three seasons since bottoming out at a franchise-worst 106 losses in 2005. For that to happen, though, their young starting pitchers must develop enough to support
Thomas made it clear he would like to play this season, and he might be able to find a team that needs him -- after all, he did manage to drive in 95 and 114 runs in his last two full seasons. But will those teams
It's probably instructive that even if all those things happen -- which is a big if -- it would only spell a third place finish in the loaded AL East. It's also instructive that a third place finish would satisfy a large number of Blue Jays fans. It just goes to show just how tough the AL East is and just how big a mountain the Blue Jays and Orioles have to climb to be consistently competitive in that division.
Johnson did, in fact, make a similar move, playing 79 games in left field in 2005 before moving to second base in 2007 and playing 133 games there. You may have noticed a significant difference between Johnson and Schumaker, though: Johnson took a year off between his moves to recover from Tommy John surgery, which became necessary when throws from the outfield put further strain on his already damaged arm. Schumaker made his move from one season to the next, and didn't have any injury concerns to worry about. Neither is the first player to have made such a move, though.
Whoa, what is this question doing in here? Since you asked, I'll tell you what a friend of mine says whenever the topic of Ty Lawson returning to North Carolina for his senior year comes up. When fans try to talk themselves into thinking their favorite players will return to their team/school, he quotes a recently-released chick-flick. "He's just not that into you. You're like the girl who thinks that just because you went out a couple of times he really is going to choose you over the super-hot girl who also happens to be filthy rich that wants to date him." Translation: Lawson is gone, and Ellington probably is too. Carolina will still be a factor next year, but another national championship run is probably a stretch.