Spring Training Notebook From Las Vegas

Spring Training Notebook From Las Vegas

Spring Training Notebook From Las Vegas
By: The Linemakers
Sportingbews.com

The Linemakers on Sporting News’ Micah Roberts empties his spring training notebook:

Finally good news for Yankee fans

Through four spring starts and 14 innings pitched, Yankees RHP David Phelps (2-1) has allowed only one run on 10 hits. Opponents are hitting just .204 off of him, and he’s allowed only three walks and has struck out six. With the uncertainties hovering over the Yankees’ aging roster, having the 26 year-old Phelps pitch well is great news for the team.

Coming into the spring, Phelps was supposed to compete with Ivan Nova (0-0) for the fifth spot in the rotation and is making a great case for himself. Nova has looked good himself, however, allowing just one run in nine innings of work. Because of Nova’s potential and big-game experience, manager Joe Girardi likely has a lean toward Nova.

Regardless of whom Girardi chooses, Phelps has probably at least won a roster spot. Even more probable is that at some juncture, 40 year-old LHP Andy Pettitte – who has yet to pitch this spring – will find his way onto the disabled list and create an opening in the rotation for either Phelps or Nova.

But given all the other issues surrounding the team, bettors are going against the Yankees like never before in the Derek Jeter era. The Yankees opened with a season win total at 88.5, have been bet down to 86, and the money still hasn’t stopped coming in against them. They are also 18-to-1 to win the World Series, the type of preseason odds last seen on a Yankees team when Scott Sanderson was their ace and Stump Merrill the manager.

Blossoming Buc?

Pirates OF Starling Marte came up to the big leagues last season with expectations of being the team’s lead-off hitter of the future. He did well by stealing 12 bases in 47 games, but he struck out 50 times in 182 plate appearances. That, along with a .300 on-base percentage, is not going to cut it for any top-of-the-order hitter.

But through 10 games in spring, Marte has batted .375 with a .423 on-base percentage, the type of numbers that could make the Pirates look the other way regarding his free-swinging approach at the plate. If the Pirates can get any positive production from Marte this season, he might be the spark they need to be able to stick around in the thick of a division race, or at least until September. They hit the brick wall in August the past two seasons.

The Pirates currently have a season win total posted at 77 wins and are 12-to-1 to win the NL Central.

Better with age?

One of the question marks with the White Sox this season was whether they would again be able to rely on solid production from 37 year-old 1B Paul Konerko. He slipped from .300 in 2011 to .298 last season, and played in 144 games, but still was a major force in a Sox lineup that won 85 games.

All indications through 10 games of spring are that Konerko will indeed be as good as ever. He leads all players with five home runs and has hit .357 in 28 at-bats. He can’t help with the pitching or replace the leadership behind the plate that departed C A.J. Pierzynski gave the staff, but he should hit near .300 again with about 28 home runs and 90 RBIs.

If you’re thinking even bigger power numbers from Konerko – like in 2004-05, when he combined to hit 81 home runs – the LVH SuperBook is offering 150-to-1 odds if he leads baseball in home runs during the 2013 season. It’s doubtful, but he’s off to a good start.

Greinke injury not serious?

The good news is that the $147 million-dollar right arm of Zack Greinke doesn’t have any ligament or tendon damage. The bad news is that Greinke has felt discomfort in his throwing arm for the last two weeks and has had anti-inflammatory injections in the back of his elbow to reduce the swelling. His opening-day roster status is in jeopardy, although Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Greinke is expected to play catch on Friday.

On the basis of all the recent Dodgers acquisitions, but mostly because of the Greinke signing, the Dodgers are the fourth choice at 8-to-1 odds to win the World Series, behind the Tigers are 13-to-2, and Angels and Nationals at 7-to-1.

If Greinke gets off to a slow start, or is delayed because of the elbow, it will be interesting to see how he holds up to the pressure of fan expectations that come with a big contract. Remember, this is a guy who has been dealing with social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. Dodger fans are more laid back than most, but they'll let a player have it if they feel he's not producing.

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