March 12, 2008
Welcome to the semifinals of the Jason Romano Commemorative NLCâ€™s hottest baller contest. 15 of the best-looking players on NLC (plus the newest ex-Mariner) face off in a single-elimination tournament.
Two rounds of fierce competition have made the players glisten with effort and anxious to take it all home. In my imagination anyway. In real life, they almost certainly don’t know they’re even in the NLC’s Hottest Baller tournament, but that’s OK. My imagination is very good.
Jason LaRue, backing up the plate in St. Louis, may not be the top catcher these days, but he’s still the hottest backstop in town. He took down Rick Ankiel in the second round to advance to the semifinals.
Brandon Phillips, enjoying a long-term contract in the Queen City has the moves to go with the smile. He’s already hot this spring, and not just on the field.
ht: 5-11 wt: 205 dob: 03/19/1974
ht: 6-0 wt: 195 dob: 6/28/1981
March 12, 2008
Spring Training in baseball is always exciting, filled with the naive optimism that “We can win it this year.” It always seems the players feel that way, too, so I wonder how the marginal players deal with the cuts. It’s one thing if you’re young and a touted prospect, but to be older and hanging on for one more shot has to be hard.
No major moves have been made yet, but here’s a rundown of the cuts that the National League Central clubs have made in the past few days.
- The Astros are letting go pitchers Paul Estrada, Sammy Gervacio, Brad James, Josh Muecke, Fernando Nieve, and Chad Reineke, infielders Tommy Manzella and Lance Niekro, and outfielder Yordany Ramirez. Most of those guys appear to be younger with need of more seasoning.
- The Cubs have trimmed their roster to 42. Pitchers Juan Mateo and Jeff Samardzija and outfielder Jake Fox were optioned to minor league teams, while pitcher Ed Campusano, infielder Luis Figueroa, and catcher JD Closser, all non-roster invitees, were reassigned to minor league camp. Pitcher Shingo Takatsu was released.
- The Pirates got in on the act, chopping 12 players off their roster. I imagine that has to hurt: not being good enough for the Pirates.
- The Reds have yet to start trimming their roster. Their first round involved cutting two pitchers.Rule V pick Sergio Valenzuela was sent back to the Braves,Â ending a Rule V pick that everyone except apparently Wayne Krivsky knewÂ was doomed to fail,Â and Ramon Ramirez was optioned to the minors.
Â Just two and a half weeks until Opening Day, and most teams have rosters that are well over the 25 man limit. It seems that teams are taking longer to decide on which 25 to take this year. I find the hand-wringing over all of it a little amusing. I mean, the vast majority of the final 35 or so players all make it to the big leagues at some point. Someone always gets injured.
Until then, keep enjoying the starting rotation battles for the Reds, the closer battle for the Cubs, the 25-man battle for the Pirates, and the Cardinals ongoing search for a Scott Spiezio replacement.