Spring training is a time of renewal. A time of hope. Spring training means everything is new and fresh. New, fresh uniforms and caps. New bats. Brand new baseballs, often called “pearls” come screaming off the bats of players, who always indicate they are “in the best shape” of their lives. All the injuries are healed. Bad ERAs and record setting strikeouts are in the rear view mirror.
Not one team has lost a game that counts. Yet.
As I’ve tried to illustrate on this site this offseason, baseball is now a game of those teams that may be able to contend, and those teams who have no chance to contend. The only thing that’s certain is that 30 clubs in 30 cities will field teams.
Frankly, no team is perfect. Some are well above the rest in talent and quality. For me, the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Astros are head and shoulders above all others. Some other teams are good. Lots of other teams are bad. Very bad.
As I look at what should be coming this March in Arizona and Florida, I see a number of questions for every club. I believe every team has an issue or issues to resolve before the games count.
In this piece, I want to identify and examine some concerns I see that teams will begin to resolve in the next month. I’ll look at one question or issue per club that I believe lurks in their current environment.
I will do a complete analysis of every club’s roster at the conclusion of spring training just before the season begins. Today, I’m just looking at frays and holes that have to be mended or fixed in Florida and Arizona.
Can the Baltimore Orioles find a way to lose less than 100 games?
Last season, Baltimore lost 115 games. To put it another way, Baltimore won 47 games.
The once proud franchise has struggled with ownership that is still staggering from giving first baseman Chris Davis a contract that will continue to pay him $23MM a year until the conclusion of the 2022 season. Davis signed a $161MM seven-year contract in 2016. The length and value of the contract was ridiculous then and is more ridiculous now. Carrying the weight of Davis’ contract on their payroll has clearly made the Angelos family ownership more than gun shy about doling out money. As of this writing, the Orioles payroll is projected to be $83.895MM according to the very credible Roster Resource. Davis will take home $23MM of that sum. Last year the team’s payroll is estimated to have been $135MM.
Ok, a team doesn’t have to necessarily spend $150MM to win. But after one look at the Orioles projected starting lineup, one might conclude there will be lots of empty seats at Camden Yards.
My greatest issue is with their projected pitching staff. The rotation should include Dylan Bundy at the top. The quality and track records of the starters declines quickly after that. Can the club really enter the season with Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, David Hess and Nate Karns following Bundy and expect to win more than 60 games? I don’t think so. Do the Orioles have exciting starting pitching options waiting in the minor league wings? Um, in a word…no. Their best starting pitching option is probably D.L. Hall, who is all of 20 years old and was drafted in 2017.
It would be one thing if just the starting pitcher was an issue, but that isn’t the end of the nightmare. The bullpen may be adding fuel to uncontrollable fires all season.
And if the pitching isn’t bad enough, the offense looks to be fairly lame. As usual, they will hope to hit home runs. They will also strike out a ton. If Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo produce, it would really help take some of the pressure off the pitching. If they produce, the team may lose only 100 games instead of 115. And a gain of 15 wins could give the club some hope. Color the season bleak.
BOSTON RED SOX
Will David Price and Chris Sale make it through the season without injury?
A healthy David Price and Chris Sale could mean the Red Sox return to the biggest stage in the game. However, Price’s arm miseries of the past are still a concern. And Sale’s shoulder issues have to be in the rear view mirror for the team to continue to dominate the opposition. Beyond Price and Sale, starting pitchers Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have had issues of inconsistency in their years on the mound. Porcello has been really good, but we can’t forget his first year in Boston. After being traded from Detroit, Porcello found a place in the dumper and stayed there in what was probably his worst pitching performance ever. He is counted upon to be the very good edition of Rick Porcello in the coming season. The team needs him.
For now at least, Craig Kimbrel is gone as a free agent. He won’t be coming out of the bullpen to close games as he did in the past. That job probably goes to Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes. How much will the Red Sox miss Kimbrel if he doesn’t climb back on board? Plenty. And wasn’t it the thin bullpens in Detroit that kept the Dave Dombrowski generally managed Tigers from winning a championship? Yes, it was. Not once, but in several seasons. Dombrowski had the money and blessing of the Ilitch family to sign players in Mr. Ilitch’s quest to win. He never signed a closer and they didn’t win. History may be repeating itself now in Boston. The Red Sox need a closer. But at least they have won with Dombrowski at the helm. The key now is to repeat. Repeating in baseball is very tough. Ask the Cubs. Or the Astros.
The Red Sox offense remains awesome. But they may have to score runs in bunches if any pitching woes surface.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Will Yoan Moncada turn the corner and hit like he was projected?
There is no question the White Sox thought they had won the sweepstakes for the services of Manny Machado. Allegedly, they were $40MM and two years short in their ultimate offer. They went to bed February 18 thinking they would win the services of Machado. They woke up February 19 learning Machado would be playing for the San Diego Padres. Not even the presence of Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso or his buddy Jon Jay could sway the final equation for Machado. In this case, money didn’t talk. It screamed.
Not signing Machado puts even more pressure on Yoan Moncada to hit with authority. I have never felt he would be an impact hitter. I always felt he would be a good, solid gap doubles hitter and that power would come, in time. That time should be now. He is still only 23, but he has seen enough big league breaking balls to make the adjustments he needs to be a quality hitter. Last year, Moncada took an incredible number of called third strikes. That has to stop.
The White Sox will have impact hitter Eloy Jimenez patrolling the outfield at some point in the early part of the season. Eventually, Michael Kopech will recover from Tommy John surgery and join the rotation. Dylan Cease throws 100 miles per hour and may be the best pitcher on the roster. Nick Madrigal prepares to take over second base. The team is loaded with top shelf prospects. And unlike many clubs, the White Sox prospects are spread around the diamond from the mound to the outfield to the infield. Even behind the plate. They’re loaded.
As the season begins, the White Sox will be challenged to win games. But winning will be made easier if Moncada steps up and hits as his press clippings have indicated he should.
American League Central clubs may be seeing a fairly weak White Sox club for perhaps a half season. But by the end of the year, the New White Sox future will come in to better view. Then, in 2020 we’ll likely see the rollout of a formidable baseball club with very high quality position players and pitchers.
How will they score runs to support an outstanding rotation?
Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes, Yonder Alonso, Melky Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Rajai Davis, Yandy Diaz, Erik Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales, and Brandon Guyer. Pretty good players. Gone. And with them have gone about 108 home runs. With them have gone 481 RBI.
Jake Bauers joins the team. So does Carlos Santana. They are the two biggest names added to the team’s roster in the offseason. Infielder Max Moroff, and outfielder Jordan Luplow are new to the organization and may play at the big league level.
As things now stand, the outfield will likely include Leonys Martin, Tyler Naquin and Greg Allen. I’m sorry, but that trio won’t bring fear to any opposing pitcher. All-World shortstop Francisco Lindor may miss the start of the season with a calf injury, the same type of injury that took outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall away from the club for parts of two seasons. Perhaps Lindor will be fine. That would be terrific, because the offense will be in the hands of Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Santana. Will they be enough to score enough runs to maximize the stellar starting pitching of the Indians? I doubt it. How in the world can Cleveland enter this season and potentially waste a marvelous starting rotation?
True, the season hasn’t started and the Indians still have time to add offense. We know they aren’t signing Bryce Harper. Who’s left? That leaves a trade. They would have to trade a starting pitcher to gain some offensive firepower. And according to the Indians, that isn’t happening either.
What does Miguel Cabrera have left in his tank?
Simply put, Miguel Cabrera is easily one of the most lethal right-handed hitters I have ever seen. When healthy, the ball screams off his bat in the same way it did for Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and Dick Allen, three other right-handed hitters who come to mind that I loved to watch. Each could put a dent in a baseball.
If Cabrera comes back strong after an injury plagued season, he will make the Tigers a better than 64 win team. If he can’t produce as an impact bat, the team may be worse than last year.
The presence of Cabrera may put some fans in the stands and generate some interest in the club once again. Now almost 36, Cabrera can’t be expected to produce the numbers he did in his prime. But he is motivated to come back strong. He is a natural hitter with strength throughout his body. Strong arms and strong legs help him drive the ball up the middle. If we see him hitting the ball to center field this spring, it will be a great sign for Detroit.
The team doesn’t have much in the lineup to surround Cabrera. The great Victor Martinez has retired. There is some hope that Nicholas Castellanos can continue to hit. I believe Jeimer Candelario is an up and coming switch-hitter with power. But it is Cabrera that will cause the opposing pitcher some heartburn…If. If he is anything close to his former self at the plate.
Will Carlos Correa come back healthy and regain his hitting prowess?
The Astros were great last year without shortstop Carlos Correa in the lineup for more than 110 games. He had only 402 at-bats. He hit only .239 after a 2017 season in which he hit .315 in 422 at-bats . Last year Correa hit 15 home runs. A healthy Correa should be good for at least 25. He had both oblique and back injuries last season, and those issues may surface once again.
At one point Correa and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor were seen as the next generation of great shortstops. Correa’s health concerns have elevated Lindor to a place above Correa. For now. Now Lindor is hurt with a bad calf. Correa may come in this coming season and play and hit his way back to the top of the shortstop offense conversation. I believe Correa will have a monster season and be right in the conversations of the better hitters in baseball. Unless his back barks.
In his absence last year, other players on the Astros stepped up. They included third baseman Alex Bregman. So how much better will the Astros offense be with a healthy Correa and a surging Bregman in the lineup together for 150 or more games?
The Astros have added Michael Brantley to the offense. He, Bregman and the great Jose Altuve may be enough to carry the club. But with Correa back, he will lengthen the lineup and add more danger to the overall composition of the team.
The Astros have lost some innings with free agent Dallas Keuchel possibly pitching elsewhere and Charlie Morton gone. The offense may face some pressure to score even more runs. I’m sure the pitching will be fine with anchors Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. But having Correa in the middle of the lineup will certainly help.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
How much will their blazing speed impact their ability to win more than 58 games?
Three of baseball’s most highly regarded base stealers now play for the same team. Shortstop Adelberto Mondesi, second baseman Whit Merrifield and center fielder Billy Hamilton each is very, very capable of stealing bases in bunches. The biggest question, however, is how do these three get on base enough to steal and score runs? After they get on base and possibly steal second, who drives them in?
Mondesi, Merrifield and Hamilton are exciting players to watch and to root for. Fans will have a great time going to games and waiting for those three to take off and run. In many cases, fans like a timely stolen base as much as any play in baseball, including a home run.
Not only can that trio steal bases, they can also hit a fair share of doubles and triples. Triples are plenty exciting to watch. They’re even more fun when the guy sliding into third is on the team you root for. These three guys will bring that type of excitement to Kansas City’s offense.
In reality, Mondesi and Merrifield were with the club last year. It is only Hamilton that changes the overall equation. And he’s the guy probably most challenged to get on base. He has to learn to bunt more efficiently. He has to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible to maximize his speed. In his new home park with wide outfield gaps, Hamilton’s doubles and triples should increase. He should improve his on-base percentage as well. That will mean more stolen bases. He may lead the American League in steals when it’s all said and done. The presence of Hamilton increases the value of both Mondesi and Merrifield as game-enhancing players.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
What type of performance can Shohei Ohtani deliver after his injury?
The Angels and every team that bid on him coming out of Japan knew that Shohei Ohtani had damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. He required Tommy John surgery in his first Angels season and now must come back when he is fully recovered. Will he return as a designated hitter long before he returns as a pitcher? Or, will the Angels give him sufficient time to recover before he returns to the offense? So far, the team is being very careful with Ohtani and he is a bit behind in his recovery and rehabilitation. Now the Angels are saying he will likely return to the lineup at some point in May.
Make no mistake, Ohtani is a formidable hitter. In his rookie season at the plate with the Angels, Ohtani hit .285 with 19 home runs and 56 RBI. He stole eight bases and was caught stealing three times. He went to the plate 384 times before being shut down.
And of course, we must remember that Ohtani also threw 51.2 innings. He had a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.
Ohtani clearly improves the power of the Angels lineup. He adds depth and length to the middle of a group that includes Mike Trout, Justin Bour, Albert Pujols and the currently injured Justin Upton (bum knee).
A left-handed hitter, Ohtani is just 24 and has years ahead of him as a hitter/pitcher or pitcher/hitter. If the Angels can stay afloat in April and not fall too far behind other clubs like Houston in the early stages of the new season, the return of Ohtani to the lineup could be a major gift to the club. And ultimately, he will return to the mound to help as a pitcher.
Can the additions on offense make up for the lack of pitching depth?
The Minnesota Twins have added right-handed slugging DH Nelson Cruz, right-handed hitting first baseman CJ Cron and right-handed hitting second baseman Jonathan Schoop to their roster. We’re talking about three quality hitters, if in fact, Schoop can return to his pre-2018 form. And they have signed versatile Marwin Gonzalez to a multi-year contract. He adds even more depth to their 25-man roster.
Without question, Cruz adds tremendous firepower to a lineup that already includes Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. Imagine what happens if either Sano or Buxton live up to their inflated expectations? Or what happens if both those guys can finally hit? Adding Cruz, Cron, Gonzalez and Schoop makes this team’s offense very, very dangerous. If in fact Sano can continue in the good shape I have seen so far this spring on video, he could have a monster home run year. With protection from Cruz and Cron, a potentially thinner Sano could find himself among the league leaders in homers, right along with Cruz. They could form a very, very dynamic duo.
While the team still hasn’t really fixed a mediocre starting pitching staff, they certainly can hold their own in games and wait for their quality lineup to inflict damage to opposing pitchers. They have a club that can win a game with a late inning home run.
For me, Cruz, who is closer in age to 39 than 38 is the guy the opposition will most fear. Gone for him will be long, long plane rides and road trips from Seattle heading east. The reduced travel alone will benefit his game.
I am very bullish on the Twins. I think they will be tough to beat. I also think they will give the Cleveland Indians a much tougher fight this year than last. And then, if they add to their pitching staff to give outstanding and improving ace Jose Berrios some help, the gap between Minnesota and Cleveland may be significantly reduced.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Do they need another left-handed hitter to balance the lineup?
Of all teams in baseball, for me, the Yankees have the fewest problems to resolve before the start of the season. Yes, it may be true that righty Masahiro Tanaka may be on borrowed time with a torn ligament. But we’ve been worried about him for the past three seasons and he has proven us wrong. Is this the year it snaps? Yes, new lefty starter James Paxton has been injury prone when pitching for the Mariners. But he and his manager say he is at 100% good health. Yes, Troy Tulowitzki, their potential starting shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns is a fragile and has missed considerable time with injuries when playing for the Blue Jays. Those aren’t problems. Every team faces some of those potential injury issues.
For me, the question revolves around the lack of a big, big left-handed bat in the lineup. Especially in a park that plays so friendly to left-handed hitters. It may be the lack of a true power hitting lefty that gives Greg Bird an extended opportunity. Or, will the club stick with right-handed hitting Luke Voit through thick or thin?
Brett Gardner, now 35, will see playing time in left field as part of the starting lineup. He is the only left-handed hitter on the offensive side of the ball when Voit starts at first. When he returns, Gregorius will be another lefty. Jacoby Ellsbury, another left-handed hitter is doubtful to be ready for opening day as he battles plantar fasciitis.
I believe right-handed pitchers will come right after their big guns, pitch them inside or try to carve them up with a boatload of breaking balls.
Putting everything in perspective however, the right-handed hitters are named Judge, Stanton, Andujar, Torres, Sanchez and Voit. Believe me, even for the best pitchers in baseball, that group of hitters is beyond formidable. They’re outstanding. They can hit sliders, curves, changeups and cutters. But-will they be frustrated with the number of those non fastballs and swing wildly, missing far too frequently.
Every team in baseball probably wishes their problems would be reduced to not having a quality left-handed fence buster among their starting nine hitters. But, I think the Yankees roster is loaded from top to bottom, and their problems and issues are minimal.
How much will Jurickson Profar impact the lineup?
The name Jurickson Profar has been on the lips of Texas Rangers baseball fans for years. When he was a prospect and rookie, he was hailed as an impact player. He could do it all. Then he got hurt. His star has tarnished. Is this his time? Is this the team that will bring out in Profar what I saw as a scout? I sure hope so. This is a guy in need of a break. This is a guy in need of a team that values him and plays him properly. But he has missed considerable playing time after shoulder surgery and back miseries. He now must prove his worth.
Profar will probably play second base for Oakland. He can also play shortstop and first base. I’ve always said the Rangers should have played him in center field. However, his arm and shoulder after the injury are still not close to what they were when he first arrived on the scene. That lack of arm strength may limit him to second and possibly first base on defense.
Having Profar at the top of the Athletics lineup could be outstanding for a team that can bust the ball out of the park with slugger Khris Davis, first baseman Matt Olson and others. The team has enough offense to win. They are way, way too short on pitching. They will have to pound the ball and score mega runs per game to win. That’s where Profar comes in. He is capable of getting on base and scoring.
It really is difficult to let it sink in that Profar is now 26 years old. He’s been around a while and he has never reached anywhere close to his potential. Now, however, his time has come. This really is the big break of his career. His new team will be much improved if Profar can produce as scouts once thought. Yes, the team will miss Jed Lowrie, their 2018 second baseman who signed with the Mets as a free agent. But Profar is an untapped, intriguing resource.
What impact will Japanese import lefty Yusei Kikuchi have upon the club?
Seattle signed Yusei Kikuchi, a left-handed pitcher from Japan as an international free agent. How good is he? At 27, how much can he contribute to a pitching staff that is mediocre at best. Can Kikuchi pitch well enough to mitigate the loss of lefty James Paxton? Yes, Paxton missed time to injury again last season. He was fragile as a Mariners starter. But he was still plenty good when he did pitch.
Kikuchi is only 6-feet tall. In today’s game, that isn’t very big compared to some of the huge pitchers we are getting used to seeing. He has thrown eight seasons in the Japanese League, finishing with 1035.1 innings. He threw to a sparkling 2.8 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his career. Kikuchi struck out an average of eight hitters per nine innings while walking an average of 3.3 hitters per nine in Japan.
It appears now that Kikuchi will be the No.1 starter for Seattle. Felix Hernandez remains in the rotation, but his productivity has declined markedly in the past two seasons. King Felix will be pitching further down in the rotation, probably in the No.4 spot. It is doubtful he can stay at 100% good health all season, making Kikuchi even more important.
It is very possible newly acquired lefty starter Justus Sheffield can emerge with a role in the rotation. But Kikuchi and Sheffield aren’t the only left-handers expected to start for the Mariners. They also have Marco Gonzalez and Wade LeBlanc capable of taking the ball in the rotation. But it is really left-handed starters Kikuchi and Sheffield that can impact the Seattle club for at least the next several seasons.
There is little doubt the Mariners can hit. Even with the loss of Robbie Cano and Nelson Cruz, the team still has a formidable offense. Mitch Haniger may be a true star.
I don’t think teams in the AL West should sleep on Seattle. They can play.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Was their 90-win season in 2018 a fluke?
All right Tampa Bay, we saw it. We lived it with you. Now, can you do it again? Can Tampa Bay win 90 games again? Can they come close?
For a team like Tampa Bay that finished the 2018 season with a reported payroll of $60MM, can they compete with a projected $202MM payroll of a team like the New York Yankees? Currently, according to Roster Resource, the Rays are estimated to increase their payroll to $66MM. What difference does $140MM or so make in on-field success? We’ll find out.
The Rays invented “the opener”. They used bullpen pitchers to start games. They are projected to do it again this coming season. They have added quality starting pitcher Charlie Morton in free agency from the Astros. He’s a potentially big addition to a rotation challenged for quality starting depth. Hence, the openers. They have lost righty prospect Brent Honeywell to Tommy John surgery, making the need for Morton even greater.
The Rays have some exciting players on offense with Tommy Pham and Ji-Man Choi. The team added Avisail Garcia from the White Sox in free agency. They traded with the Mariners to get catcher Mike Zunino. He adds some power to the lineup.
This team has left-handed Cy Young winner Blake Snell leading their pitching staff. He alone makes the club an interesting entry in the American League east. But do they win 90 games again? That’s the question they will begin to answer with their preparation this spring.
Do they have enough pitching depth to cover a 162-game season?
There are several clubs that really needed to improve their starting pitching and bullpen depth over the offseason. For me, the Rangers were among the leaders in having a need for quality starters. And for me, they have failed to meet the challenge. It is the failure to add quality to a very mediocre pitching staff that will doom the Rangers to a season very similar or worse than the experience in 2018.
They may begin the season with a rotation that includes left-handers Mike Minor and Drew Smily, who they acquired in trade with the Cubs. Right-handed starters include Edinson Volquez, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. Lynn had an awful season in Minnesota before going to the Yankees. Miller was a disaster for Arizona after being traded to the Dbacks from the Atlanta Braves. Miller has had Tommy John surgery and lost last season due to a setback when he tried to pitch after his surgery rehabilitation was deemed complete.
The pitching issues become even worse for the Rangers when one considers the lack of high quality pitching prospects in the organization. Compared to most organizations, the Rangers lack impact pitching prospects close enough to being major league ready that can rescue the club from bad performance or pitching injuries during the season. While most clubs have a starting pitching stable of at least eight quality starters ready to go between their big league club and their farm system, I doubt the Rangers will be able to adequately fill in if a rotation need arises. Years from now their farm system pitching may be enough to get them in a pennant race. But not in 2019. Probably not in 2020 either.
And if the starting pitching has issues, the bullpen may be even worse as I see it right now. I believe the pen will get a hefty share of work, and I’m not sure they have enough quality arms to weather the storms I see coming. They did add right handers Jess Chavez, Shawn Kelly and Zach McAllister via free agency over the winter. But I’m not sure they are enough to rescue a bullpen that will be called upon to pitch what could be countless innings this coming season.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
When do the Blue Jays add Vlad Guerrero Jr. to their major league club?
I have said it many times. Vlad Guerrero Jr. is a generational impact player waiting for his time to shine at the big league level. Yes, I ranked the White Sox Eloy Jimenez above Guerrero Jr. as my No. 1 prospect entering the season. I won’t go into the details again here. You can read my prospect rankings in the article posted on this site.
Guerrero Jr. has the strength in his young frame to be a crucial run producing bat in the middle of the Blue Jays aging lineup. The Blue Jays have a huge decision to make. Do they follow the desire of their fan base and start the season with Guerrero Jr. at third base? Or, do they follow the practiced wisdom of baseball executives and limit his service time early in the season to allow the team an extra year of control of his contract? And, do they give Guerrero Jr. more time to develop his defensive skills in the minor leagues where he can continue to learn and hone his defensive skills in an environment less taxing and with less pressure than with the big league club? That would make sense. Guerrero Jr. is not as yet a “finished product” as a third baseman. He is, however, ready to hit at the big league level in my evaluation. He was better on defense than I expected in the Fall League. For a big man, he is agile enough to move around at third base and his range and arm strength are adequate. He likely won’t make the spectacular play from third, but he can hold his own. More time and minor league experience will help.
Will his defensive challenges improve between the end of March and the middle of April? I doubt it. If the Blue Jays want him to get more defensive development they will have to leave him in Triple-A for half a season. I’m not sure they’ll do that. If, in fact they team promotes him at the end of spring training or even early in April or May, that decision can be easily understood. He’s an impact player that can make their meh lineup ever so much better with his presence.
I have been listing my fantasy baseball rankings each week. Today, I look at Part II of my outfield rankings. And this list does not even complete the deep outfield players that will be eligible for draft or auction in fantasy leagues.
FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELD RANKINGS (PART II) Note: Part I was posted last week.
Shin Soo Choo
Delino DeShields Jr.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Albert Almora Jr.
D J Stewart
Steven Souza Jr.
From this list I am very bullish on Mallex Smith, Jose Martinez and Domingo Santana as guys that remain sleepers in my estimation.
This week the worlds of baseball and journalism lost highly acclaimed Boston Globe baseball writer Nick Cafardo. My sincere condolences go to his family and friends. I always found Nick to be warm and friendly to me in the times I would see him in a press box. Nick Cafardo was an icon and the type of baseball writer and analyst we all admire. He is sorely missed.
Arizona Fall League official scorer Frank Daniel lost his life this week as well. A car accident took Frank almost immediately after he attended the Cactus League Luncheon. May Frank rest in peace and may his friends and family find comfort in knowing that he was greatly valued and we cherished his friendship.
Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff.