Spring Training Really Matters, Except When It Doesn’t

It’s spring training. Get a full perspective with new entries from the chipalatta team.

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By Dan Peschong

Baseball fans would seem to be of two minds on Spring Training. Some think it is like a lecture on calculus on the day before Spring Break. Unnecessarily long and fairly pointless.

Others see Spring Training as a living symbol of the meaning of spring itself – an annual ritual, a renewal, an opportunity to bloom and dazzle.

So, just for fun I’m going to argue two sides of the same points about why the 2014 Astros Spring Training really matters and why it doesn’t.

It helps the young guys career growth to go to a major league  camp

Pro – What is the down side to having Carlos Correa, Domingo Santana, Jonathan Singleton and Asher Wojciechowski in camp? Why wouldn’t you want these young studs practicing with the major leaguers, being coached by the major league coaches and playing against major league competition in the exhibition games? Wouldn’t all these things aid their development?

Con – These are not the days of the young guys learning next to players like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte.  Really, how much are they going to learn from Scott Feldman (career ERA 4.62)?  Do you really trust Jose Altuve to teach them fundamentals?  And how many hitters improved under John Mallee last season vs. their minor league coaches?

Amazing performances in spring training  can change everything

Pro – Remember the wonderful spring training of 1991, when a young gun named Bagwell, made it impossible to leave him off the roster. Bagwell had been traded at the trade deadline in 1990 for pitcher Larry Andersen and had never played above AA prior to going nuts in ST. The late Ken Caminiti blocked Bags at his normal 3rd base position – so he was taught first base in the last week or two of spring training and went on to become the Astros’ first and only Rookie of the Year.

Con – George Springer had a strong spring training in 2013. He had great stats at AA and AAA in 2013. He never got a September call-up and there are still whispers that he will be held in AAA until late June arrives. What miracle are we thinking is going to happen in spring training? That the Astros will finally let Springer onto the big club prior to him hitting 25 years of age?

Spring training is where a number of position battles will be resolved

Pro – It will be fascinating to see who are the starters in the outfield between Springer, Dexter Fowler, L.J. Hoes and Robbie GrossmanWho will take the 4th and 5th starter spots from among Jerome Williams, Brad Peacock, Paul Clemens, Asher Wojciechowski, Anthony Bass and Dallas KeuchelCloser, set-up men, first base, DH – all to be run to ground during the ST.

Cons – Sure, there are position battles going on – but let’s face facts this is like figuring out who the new crew will be for the Titanic as it is sinking. Few if any of these folks matter or will be with the team when they finally become relevant.

So, it is your turn – where do you come down relative to the usefulness of spring training?


8 comments on “Spring Training Really Matters, Except When It Doesn’t

  1. I think it’s useful to the players to knock the rust off. I think it’s useful to the team to see if anyone is ready to make a giant leap forward. I think it’s useful for the fans who are Jonesing so badly they refresh the page at Climbing Tal’s Hill just to see if there’s any new news.

    And maybe the brass will be convinced to send Correa to CC instead of Lancaster.


  2. Brian – those types of quickie promotions are critical to the future of this team. Like you said on the comments to your blog post – we are not going to find out that much about Correa if they send him to offensive bloated Lancaster – the guy is a #1 overall pick even if young – challenge him – send him to Corpus. (Right now he is probably better than anybody who will play SS at the major league level this year).


  3. I can’t believe I’m going to disagree with you two guys on Correa. He most assuredly won’t play for Houston in the majors this year. The avg age of pitchers in the Cal League is 23 and in Corpus it is 24. He is 19 and wants to work on his fielding and Lancaster is a harder place to play defense because of the altitude. Since he is going to end up at AA anyway, why not just start him at Lancaster and then move him up. It gives us a look at Foontana at CC, also and he is quite a bit older.


  4. Spring is not Spring with out baseball starting, oh and the Masters. I have put my crystal ball in the closet. I just want to see all the great things that will pan out in the next 6 weeks. The future with Appel, Folty Wojo, Cosart,, Oby, springer, singleton, deshields, castro ruiz, correra. I’m looking at my 2005 World Series Pennant, We will be back!!


  5. Dan, there is always a twist in Spring Training. A kid forces his way onto the roster. A late trade is made bringing a quality guy in, adding anticipation to Opening Day. Inevitably, a key part goes down with a significant injury. And then there is the simple, relaxed small park feel of baseball in Florida and Arizona. You don’t run into many casual fans at ST. It’s a good place to be.


    • Yeah daveb – I am on the Pro side – but I thought it would be fun to write both sides of the argument.
      I am hopeful we get a couple young studs making it impossible to keep them down in the minors.


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