Spring training arrives and life begins again

Taking a quick swing through the wild world of baseball and making just enough contact to put a Short Stuff blog post in play …

*  I’m up to my neck in diapers and screaming kids now that my wife and I are 2 months into adjusting to life with a newborn daughter in addition to our 21-month-old son but I’ve tried to carve out a little time to get back to blogging since camps are opening all over Florida and Arizona and I can’t help but be pumped up for baseball’s return.

* Did any team get stripped down more in the offseason than the Rays? Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Grant Balfour are among the players from last season’s AL East-winning team who are nowhere to be found for Tampa this spring.

But you know what? This is still an intriguing team heading into 2011.

A full season of Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings is ripe with potential and Manny Ramirez could be the steal of the winter at “just” $2 million. Manager Joe Maddon just might be smart enough and quirky enough to keep Manny’s head in the game for most of the season and signing Johnny Damon provides a decent babysitter in the clubhouse for one of baseball’s biggest head cases.

I’d love to see Maddon’s crew finish ahead of the Yankees this season.

* Speaking of the Yankees, I’m still totally amused that they didn’t land Cliff Lee or any other big-name free agent. Seeing them go dumpster diving for players such as Bartolo Colon and Eric Chavez while having ugly contract negotiations with Derek Jeter just warms the heart of this small-market baseball fan.

Unfortunately, the Yankees are still a formidable team but the Evil Empire ain’t what it used to be.

* Speaking of the Evil Empire, is there really any difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox anymore? The Red Sox added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford without batting any eye or flinching at the mountains of money involved.

At this point Boston has the willpower and money to get just about any player they want … kind of like that AL East team in pinstripes that so many baseball fans love to hate.

Of course, if the A’s threw money around like the Yankees and the Red Sox I probably wouldn’t complain.

* Am I a geek for getting all fired up after receiving an e-mail alert from Yahoo that 2011 fantasy baseball leagues are open? You bet I am and I can’t wait for my live drafts to roll around in late March.

* Am I the only A’s fan getting tired of the Giants’ seemingly never-ending World Series celebration? Has any team ever beaten the, “We won it all” thing more than San Francisco has this winter?

I won’t pretend to be a Rockies/Dodgers/Padres fan but I certainly won’t shed a tear for the Giants if those clubs start taking charge of the NL West for the next few seasons … or decades if I’m lucky.

* I get the feeling that beat writers get fined if they don’t file a “Player X is in the best shape of his life” and a “Team Y is full of hope and potential” this time of year.

* Are the Angels even trying anymore? From where I’m sitting, that was an awesomely awful offseason for the Halos. I’ll never understand why Angels owner wasn’t willing to shell out enough money to land Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre but he gladly traded for the aging and grossly overpaid Vernon Wells.

That move still has me scratching my head and I’m sure it has a lot of Angels fans banging their heads against a wall in utter disbelief.

* Getting back to the Yankees for a moment, I took a quick look at Bartolo Colon’s BaseballReference.com page after the Yankees signed him and I noticed that he’s listed at 185 pounds. Anyone else think that number needs to be updated? I bet Colon’s left thigh probably weighs 185 pounds all by itself.


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