Larry takes a break from combing through internet archives for bygone baseball stories to answer your questions about the upcoming season.
Larry Granillo: Walking Dead just had their season finale, Mad Men begins again in 1 week, Game of Thrones comes back in 2 weeks and then we have real, live baseball! What a glorious time to be alive. Let's get started.
rrydelek (Maryland): Wither goest the Orioles? Do they appear to at least have a plan?
Larry Granillo: As someone who grew up an Orioles fan, it's really hard to watch what's happened to that franchise since Davey Johnson won the Manager of the Year in absentia. I've heard a few times that Angelos is keeping himself further away from the day-to-day operations, which would be nice if true. And they have some talent, but I'm not very optimistic about their chances. Going after Tony LaCava in the off-season showed willingness to get better - but he turned them down! That says a lot right there. And now Dan Duquette is in the role.
Like I said, not feeling too optimistic for Baltimore.
Billy (Wildwood, NJ): Name a team that has had a worse spring than the Phillies. Go ahead! I dare you!
Larry Granillo: Good point. The Cabrera injury yesterday isn't great for Detroit, but they've had a decent spring otherwise - and it is nowhere near as bad as everything going on with the Phillies. Burnett's injury for Pittsburgh is also pretty sad for that team. I liked the risk they were taking with AJ, and to have it damaged for such a stupid reason is no fun.
But Philly is definitely in worse shape, as far as the spring goes. They still have Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee, as well as Jonathon Papelbon, so I wouldn't count their season out just yet. It's not like the Astros have suddenly started wearing Phillies uniforms.
Tony Danza (Italy): will Shelly Duncan get 350 abs this year?
Larry Granillo: I should say up front that I'm not the best guy when it comes to fantasy or prospect projections, so you may not want to base your $100,000 Las Vegas bet on my words.
That said, I'd imagine Duncan would get some regular playing time this year. Cleveland's outfield isn't the deepest and they've given him some shots before. He's 32, but they're still going to need someone to take those innings every now and then.
chiefsalsa (Logan, Utah): Heading down to SLC to see Mike Trout play for the Bees on April 15th. Should I make plans to catch him in May? Or will he be on the big club by then?
Larry Granillo: You know, I was in LA last summer for the SABR conference when he made his major league debut. It happened to be in the Angels game that all the SABR folks were already planning on going to. That call up was so out of the blue and pretty darn exciting for everyone. Of course, he ended up getting into 40 games and batting .220/.281/.390
My money would be on you getting the chance to see Trout in SLC in May. The Angels may have another surprise call up in them, but May is pushing it.
Ed (Cranford, NJ): Do you think Mike Minor stays in Atlanta's rotation all season?
Larry Granillo: It's certainly possible, but my guess is he spends a little bit of time out of the rotation at some point. Not for any specific reason; just that, young #5 starters, no matter their potential, tend to have struggles here and there. It's kind of rare today to see a team get 35 starts from their #5 guy, so odds are against it for anyone, even Minor.
Mike (Chicago): So do you break out the stopwatch in spring training to get ready for a summer of trot tracking, or do you just wing it opening day? And is any town less enthused by opening day than my hometown? Double the pessimism, half the fun...
Larry Granillo: My first year doing it was on a complete whim on the first or second day of the season. Last year, I guess you could say I practiced by looking at those classic home runs (like Bo Jackson's timeout-hr or Chris Chambliss's fans-overrun-the-field postseason bomb.
As for Chicago, I certainly get what you're saying. But I was at the BP2012 event last night and there seemed to be quite a few Cubs and White Sox fans there who were very eager about the upcoming season. If I were you, I'd focus on those guys and not the doom-and-gloom guys that I'm sure are dominating Chicago's wonderful sports-talk radio.
TJ (So Cal): O/U on Dee Gordon steals is 50. What side do you bet?
Larry Granillo: I was about to say the under, just on the impression that he'll need to get used to the league a little more, etc. But then I looked again at his stats. He stole 24 bases in 224 ABs last year. If he can get 500-600 PAs and maybe up that OBP a bit (it was .325 last year), 50 seems like no sweat for the kid. I might take the over now.
blazeswim (Chicago): Thanks for coming out last night to the Chicago book event! When are you releasing the answer to the cryptogram?
Larry Granillo: My pleasure.
I was going to try and put something up this afternoon, but then I remembered I had this chat to do over my lunch hour. I'll probably put something up either tonight or tomorrow morning.
I hope people are finding it interesting.
myshkin (Santa Clara, CA): Thanks for the puzzle! I thought it was not overly difficult, but neither was it trivial. What inspired you, beyond the BP event? Any plans for more?
Your thoughts on what, at first glance, looks like an even screwier opening week-and-a-half schedule than usual?
Larry Granillo: That's good to hear. The cryptogram was something that just popped in my head a while back - using baseball to somehow encode a message - but I couldn't figure out what kind of message would be worth figuring out. After all, I didn't want to lead anybody into the crypts below Vatican City or anything. Last night's event felt like a good time to try it out. I'm not sure I can come up with a different code, though. I'll have to think on it.
I hardly pay attention to MLB's early-season shenanigans anymore. I know they need to do some extra stuff to promote the brand and that they have very little room in the schedule to that, and I'm okay with that. But it doesn't really excite me one way or the other (though I do think the Miami 1-game series is really odd).
hotstatrat (Toronto): I have HBO free for a month - with some old shows available "On Demand". Other than Boardwalk Cafe and Angry Boys, what should I check out?
Larry Granillo: If you haven't seen Game of Thrones yet, you have to give that a try for sure (they've been showing season 1 non-stop on one of the channels recently). If Bored to Death is available, I'd give that a try too. It's incredibly funny and interesting (Ted Danson is the best in it). I'm sure there's more, but I'd start there.
Sean (MKE): How far do you have Marquette going in the tourney?
Larry Granillo: Honestly, my bracket had them losing on Thursday - to Mizzou. One, because I didn't like how they played in the Big East tourney and two, because they always seem to get so far and then just stop. But they've looked great this week so far and now they don't have to face Mizzou, so I can easily see them getting to at least the Elite Eight. And then Michigan St is a possibility.
But I try not to get my hopes up.
GEO (lunch): The Royals can get up there with the Phillies for worst spring. They have lost two catchers and two pitchers to injury.
Larry Granillo: Good point. I almost missed the Soria story last night while at the event. I don't think the Royals are good enough yet to have been paying Soria good money, but his injury still hurts in that now they can't trade him to get better. Hopefully he'll be able to come back at a time when the Royals can use him best.
Miggie (Motown): Ouch! Crap! That hurt! How long am I out for?
Larry Granillo: The Tigers said today that they only expect him to be gone for a couple of weeks. And that's possible. Burnett, however, had a similar injury and his downtime was something like 6 or 8 weeks. Granted, the fractures can be very different, but I'm not sure I'd 100% buy an optimistic appraisal from Detroit just yet.
chiefsalsa (Utah): Spring training feels looooooong this year. Are teams going to start shelving their best players after the Cabrera injury? Are pitchers ready after 3 weeks?
Larry Granillo: I don't think so. Injuries are no fun to see happen in meaningless baseball, but clubs still want their players ready by April. The more players sit, the more they'll have to play into shape in games that matter. And, even with the occasional big name injury like Cabrera, that "the whole team is at 70%" phenomena isn't one they want to play around with. Plus, you're then just opening yourself up for injuries in April instead of March, and I'd much rather have my injuries happen when there are no games to be played.
blazeswim (Chicago): If you had a chance to get in a time machine, who would be the player you would like to watch in person?
Larry Granillo: I've always said that I was disappointed to be just old enough to know about Mike Schmidt as an active player, but not old enough to have ever seen him play (let alone seen him when he was at his best). I'd be pretty happy to get that chance.
Looking farther back, I'd probably want to see someone like Sandy Koufax or Walter Johnson in their prime. I really want to know exactly how great those guys were, seeing as how much better they were than their competition.
Raj (South Bend): To paraphrase Major League, "The Tribe ain't half bad." Do you agree with me that my beloved Indians are one power hitter away from a 90 win season?
Larry Granillo: I don't know what exactly the missing piece is, but they certainly feel close to doing something great. Hopefully Ubaldo will be able to get back to form in 2012 and Carlos Santana will come back healthy. If both of those happen - and it's not crazy to think so - they're already a long way there. I don't know if it's 90 games, but it's enough to get the Jake roaring.
alday51 (detroit): With Soria possibly out for the season, I'm scrambling for RP in the latter stages of my Scoresheet draft. Of these four, who do you like for this year - Coleman, Herrera, O'Day or Strop?
Herrera seems to have a lot of upside. O'Day and Coleman seem to be the safer picks.
Larry Granillo: I'm not great at these types of questions since I don't really play any types of fantasy or simulation games. Herrera is the name that jumps out at me, but I couldn't tell you how that'll play in your league.
Jeff (Reno): Something else about the Cabrera injury regarding fantasy: you now have to plug in a 3B for maybe a month since Miggie is not 3B elig. until he plays there a week. That's a big chunk of time.
Larry Granillo: Though this is something that I do understand pretty well. Very good point. I know his positional flexibility was something people were looking forward to this year, and the injury does seriously cramp that for a bit.
Celia (El Paso): You mentioned Walking Dead. Don't the zombies looks like the Mets?
Larry Granillo: Good question.
But maybe that's giving the Mets too much credit. The Walkers, despite being dead, do seem to wander around with a little bit of a purpose. Sure, they react to the conditions of the road and to random sounds of gunfire in the distance, but at least they're reacting how they should, trying to fill their hunger, their need.
I'm not even sure we could say that about the Mets right now.
Liam (Manchester, NH): Name one good reason to watch the Mets this year. I'm having trouble.
Larry Granillo: Fun Walking Dead comparisons?
But, seriously - there is RA Dickey at least. Gotta love the knuckleball.
Christopher (Tennessee): Speaking of branding, what do you think of MLB's ultra-tight control of video clips, etc.? The NBA loves the free publicity on YouTube, but MLB forces fans to come to them. Seems counterproductive to me. Thoughts?
Larry Granillo: I'm not a fan of their video clip gestapo. I love what the NBA allows everyone to do and I think it's for the betterment of the sport. That said, MLBAM is far and away the best internet/digital team of all the major sports, with MLB.tv and Gameday and their twitter/social media initiatives. Even with that tight video control, they give us the best stuff. If that means we have to go to brewers.mlb.com or somewhere and sit through a boring commercial to see a slew of video clips, I'll put up with it. But hopefully they'll change their rules in the near future.
Stony (West coast): Should I stay up until 2 AM to watch my Mariners in those stupid Japan games or just DVR them? The games count, so I want to watch them. These Japan games are really taxing on the fans.
Larry Granillo: They really are. The only way I could picture myself doing that is if I were back in college and if, magically, my roommates all turned into baseball fans. That way, we could watch it together while eating frozen pizzas or something. An early season baseball game at 2am now? Pretty unlikely. I wish you the best of luck in staying up that long.
Mike (Chicago): As a cub fan that got to see schmidt at his very best (every game at wrigley it seemed) during my formative teen years, I can understand that. I think I'd have liked to have been a baseball fan in the 1930s, if it wasn't for the whole depression thing. If you get back to the early 80s, could you find my teen self and let him know that getting married at 20 is a bad idea?
Larry Granillo: I'll give it a try, but I doubt your teenage self will believe me.
The 1930s would be fun for that crazy high offensive environment and some cool stadiums (I would *love* to have seen Forbes Field), but the color line and the other problems with the era can't be forgotten.
Harry (Philly): When I was a kid, every Phillies game, kids would want to see down the third base line at the Vet to see Schmitty barehand a high chopper and gun a runner out. It was a sight to see. You miss out.
Larry Granillo: Glad I made the right call. That mixture of offense and defense that Schmidt had was something very special.
Matt (Malone, NY): Shouldn't the Mets cut Mike Pelfrey? They'd save almost 4 million and the guy is practically worthless.
Larry Granillo: I have no idea what's going through the minds of the Mets front office. My guess is that, with the giant drop in payroll they've already had this year, it's not worth cutting Pelfrey over $4 million. It's not like they'd be filling his spot with an All-Star.
davy (st. louis): A Cubs fan living in enemy territory here. I should hide my Cubs cap, right? It will be ugly this me thinks.
Larry Granillo: I was in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago and even took a tour of Busch Stadium. For the most part, everyone seemed nice enough towards non-Cards fans. However, I wasn't wearing anything as adversarial as a Cubs hat and there weren't 42,000 Cardinals fans in the stadium when I was there, so your mileage may vary.
Larry Granillo: Thanks for the questions, everyone. Only 2 more weeks til baseball season. Get excited!
(And if anyone has an idea for how to make a zombie swords-and-sorcery show set in the 1960s ad world, let me know. I think we can make some money!)