Friday, April 22, 2011

Brett Anderson is really freaking good

On Tuesday Brett Anderson made the Boston Red Sox look as confused as Sarah Palin under light questioning. 62.96% of the Sox' plate appearances against Anderson ended in either a strikeout or a groundout.

His slider was absolutely filthy, sitting at 81 MPH while generating swings-and-misses 23.8% of the time (MLB average = 13%). He threw the pitch 42 times and threw it for a strike better than three out of every four attempts.

He worked off of his slider most of the night (and why not?), mixing in a four and two seam baseball and an occasional change. Anderson didn't generate whiffs with the the four seamer and changeup, but his the heavy sinking movement on those pitches result in a large number of weakly hit ground balls.

If Anderson can finally stay healthy for a full season, he could find himself high up in the Cy Young balloting at the end of the year.

Yovani Gallardo revisited

After his disastrous start against Washington last week, we noted a dip in Yovani Gallardo's velocity that seemed to correspond with the Nationals' sudden ability to hit everything Gallardo was throwing. Yovani looked much better against the Astros on Friday, sustaining velocity on all of his offerings through his departure from the game in the sixth.

Gallardo did give up four earned runs on eight hits, but he also struck out seven, walked just one, and surrendered no homeruns. With four out of his nine baserunners crossing the plate, it's clear that Gallardo was an abnormally low strand rate and a high batting average on balls in play.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's up with Yovani Gallardo?

In his past two starts Yovani Gallardo has been roughed up to the tune of 17 hits, 4 walks, and 11 earned runs in the past 10 1/3 innings.

The most puzzling thing about Gallardo's first 3 starts was the lack of strikeouts. Going into last Sunday, Gallardo had only struck out 9 batters in 20 innings of work. This, after striking out more than a batter an inning over the past two seasons. And it's not as if Gallardo has faced stiff competition this far. Outside of an opening day start at Cincinnati, Gallardo has face the the struggling bats of the Braves, Cubs, and Nationals.

So what's wrong with Yovani Gallardo? Is anything wrong with Yovani Gallardo?

It looked like Gallardo had broken out of his early season funk after the first four innings of play against the Nationals on Sunday. Through the first four frames, Gallardo had struck out five, walked none, given up just three hits and one run.

But then everything fell apart in the bottom of the fifth, as the Nationals started making hard contact with everything that Yovani was throwing, culminating with two three-run home runs by Danny Espinosa and Ivan Rodriguez that chased Gallardo from the game in the sixth.

The graph above plots the velocity of each pitch Gallardo threw Sunday against the Nationals.  His fastball sat 92-94 through the first four frames, but then he lost 2 MPH during the next two innings. There were similar velocity dips for each of his pitches, with an even more pronounced drop in the velocity of his slider.

Now maybe this doesn't tell us anything at all. After all, it stands to reason that a pitcher would lose some velocity as he gets deeper into a game. But on a lark I decided to look up the PitchFX data on Gallardo's best start from last year - a June 24th complete game shutout against the Twins in which he struck out 12, walked none, and allowed only five hits.

In this start, Gallardo actually gained velocity as the game wore on.

So is it a question of Gallardo just needing to round into "mid-season form"? We know that the average fastball velocity for all pitchers goes up 1-2 MPH from the beginning of the season to the middle of the year. Is it just a matter of Gallardo building up endurance in order to sustain the success that enjoyed over in the first four innings against the Nationals?

My guess is Gallardo will be fine, but it will be interesting to track the changes in his PitchFX data over the next couple of weeks.

He gets the Houston Astros at home on 4/22. That should help.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Video: Ozzie Guillen Reviews the Great Gatsby

Brilliant Chicago improv and sketch troupe Warm Milk have made a hilarious web short called "He's a Great Book! with Ozzie Guillen." Watch the video below:

He's a Great Book! with Ozzie Guillen -- The Great Gatsby from Dan Bulla on Vimeo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Checking in on Mike Minor

The Screaming Indian has been very high on Mike Minor ever since he started striking out AA batters with reckless abandon in 2010. In fact, we billed him as the fifth overall and most MLB-ready of the Braves prospects.

It looks like he's going to slot in as the fifth starter for the Braves this year. But Minor offers mid-rotation upside, even in his rookie season, because he's already very polished.

One concerning trend that we noted in our write-up of Minor's prospect status is his sudden fly ball proclivity (47.6% flyball rate) upon being called up to the big leagues at the end of last season. So far this spring, Minor's groundout/airout ratio is an amazingly low 0.35. If this trend continues, the young lefty is going to be highly susceptible to the long ball in his rookie season. His 7/4 K/BB ratio in 10 IP is also a cause for concern.

Meanwhile, Brandon Beachy - Minor's competition for the role of fifth starter - has 7 Ks and 0 BBs in 5 innings with a GO/AO ratio of 1.67. It's worth noting that Beachy has been with the "B Squad" and facing weaker competition.

It's also worth noting that fans - particularly fans like me, who aren't scouts - are at a huge information disadvantage in spring training. Maybe Minor's working on some things, and we're not privy to what it is that he's working on. Maybe he's just struggling though. He hasn't surrendered any home runs yet (which has helped him coast to a glossy 0.90 ERA), but at the rate that he's giving up fly balls, he's going to be badly bruised the long ball if this trend does not reverse.

I don't think it's time to discount him yet, but I'd keep him on a short leash as we start the season. Beachy proved himself a competent enough option at the end of 2010.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A scout talks to Buster Olney about Carl Pavano

To me, this begged a few obvious questions:

I'll let you know if he responds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can McLouth rebound?

It gets said a million times, but spring training is just spring training. It's difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from the statistics being generated because, unlike during the regular season, the main objective of each team is not to win the game being played.

That said, Nate McLouth is having a very interesting spring. McLouth has come to the plate 20 times this spring and has not struck out a single time. Since being called up to the big leagues, Nate McLouth has never - never - gone more than 18 consecutive plate appearances without striking out. That stretch of plate appearances ran from September 8-11th of 2005 when McLouth was a rookie and a Pittsburgh Pirate.

It's an especially encouraging sign after 2010, when an inability to make contact in April and May (68% contact rate and 72% contact rate, respectively) caused him to be demoted to a part-time role before a June concussion caused him to miss most of the season's remainder. McLouth was much improved when he got healthy. In fact, McLouth's .467/.636/.800 spring comes on the heels of a September where he hit .275/.339/.549 in September while making contact 86% of the time in 51 AB.

Even by spring training standards, it's still extremely early to be making statistics-based judgements about player performance. But with Jordan Schafer scuffling at the plate again (.182/.206/.212), McLouth looks primed to claim the center field position outright. He's still not a very good defensive center fielder, but the Braves will be happy if his bat has regained the potency that it once had in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If you think that the Braves' pitching is almost as good as the Phillies', you're too drunk to drive

Today on Twitter there was a certain amount of murmuring - as far as I can tell, created by a Jayson Stark radio hit - regarding the notion that the Braves' pitching is actually pretty good (it is), maybe even nearly as good as the Phillies' rotation (fuck no it isn't).

For the purposes of my argument, I'm only going to look at the top 4 pitchers in each rotation. The fifth starter could conceivably change at any given moment. Based on Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections for 2011, the Braves' top 4 starters (Hudson, Lowe, Hanson, and Jurrjens) will be worth 9.8 wins above replacement (WAR). Philadelphia's? 17.2. That is not a typo. That's 7.4 wins better than the Braves' rotation. To put that in perspective, 7.4 WAR is roughly equivalent to a "down year" for Albert Pujols (that is, if you consider 2010 a down year).

The Phillies' rotation has the potential to be one of the greatest in recent memory, perhaps even of all time. Not unlike Charlie Sheen, this pitching staff has tiger blood coursing through its veins. 

Saying that this Braves staff is "almost as good" as a staff of that caliber is absolutely ridiculous.

Now maybe you're saying, "Why the hell should I care about a projection? PECOTA predicted that Matt Wieters would be a superstar." Fair enough. Let's only look at past performance.

Suppose for a moment that the each member of the Braves' rotation has a career best season in 2011. Below are career bests for each:

Tim Hudson: 5.3* (2007)
Tommy Hanson: 4.3 (2010)
Jair Jurrjens: 3.8 (2009)
Derek Lowe: 6.0 (2002)
Total WAR: 19.4

Now, let's look at Philly's staff last year:

Roy Halladay: 6.6 (his worst season in the past 3, in which he still won a Cy Young)
Total WAR: 22.2

So even if the Braves' top starters manage to have the best seasons of their careers, they will still fall short of the collective 2010 performance of the Phillies' rotation.

If you've read this and you still think that the Braves' rotation has a good chance of equalling the Phillies', driving is not recommended.

*Here, I switch to FanGraphs' WAR metric because Baseball Prospectus doesn't have WAR for past seasons.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Notable performances from the Braves' first spring training game

Freddie Freeman
The 21-year-old lefty came up huge with 3 doubles in three plate appearances. This was a very encouraging sign from the Braves' Opening Day first baseman. Read more about Freeman here.

Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel's performance was notable for the other reason - the reason he spent a few months in Bobby Cox's dog house last summer. Craig simply couldn't find the strike zone and got hit hard by the Mets' b-team. His final line included one out recorded via strikeout, 2 walks, a double, and a home run. Now, it's just spring training and maybe he's working some things out that we aren't privy to, but it was not an encouraging sign from someone that is expected to assume the lion's share of late-and-close ninth inning duty for the Braves in 2011.

Meanwhile, the other half of the closing tandem, Jonny Venters, pitched one inning with a strikeout and one hit allowed to Jose Reyes.

On the roster bubble:
RHP Cristhian Martinez entered the game in the fifth and recorded five outs in five batters faced, striking out one, and inducing a ground ball double play to get out of a jam of Kimbrel's making. Martinez pitched well in 52 AAA innings last year, and his peripherals in 26 Major League innings (e.g., xFIP of 3.18) belie his 4.85 ERA. He could be a useful bullpen piece this year.

RHP Stephen Marek, who became famous when he was traded to Atlanta with Casey Kotchman in exchange for Mark Teixeira, got off to a rough start by walking the first batter he faced. Marek eventually settled in and suffered no further damage, recording three consecutive outs to end the inning, including two strikeouts.

Brooks Conrad fielding blunder watch:
There were two errors committed by Braves second basemen. But only one of them was caused by Brooks Conrad. The other was brought to you courtesy of Ed Lucas. Who? Yeah, I don't know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#5 Prospect: Mike Minor

Mike Minor was Atlanta's first overall pick out of Vanderbilt in the 2009 draft. The selection was widely panned as a "signability pick"; at the time, most saw Minor's ceiling as a command and control lefty without average stuff destined for the back end of a Major Leauge rotation. But the Braves' front office either got lucky or saw something that no one else did, as former Commodore's fastball velocity jumped to 94 from the high 80s/ low 90s during his first full season as a pro in 2010.

Minor's breakthrough actually began in late 2009 in a 14 inning stretch in the South Atlantic League when he allowed just one run while striking out 17, walking none, and allowing just 10 hits. At the time, Minor's performance was dismissed as the work of a crafty college pitcher beating inferior hitters with superior polish. It was widely thought that Minor's flaws would be exposed when he reached the higher levels.

In 120.1 innings across AA and AAA in 2010, Minor continued to impress, as you can see in the table below:

Courtesy of

Upon his promotion to the major leagues, Minor did not have the hoped-for results, but his skills remained intact:

Courtesy of
Minor was hurt by the the 6 HR he allowed in 40 Major Leauge innings after giving up just 9 HR in three times as many innings between AA and AAA. This phenomenon had something to do with Minor's inability to sustain the 49% ground ball rate that he enjoyed at AAA. This rate dropped to 38% in Atlanta. Minor's opponents were also the beneficiaries of a flukish .392 batting average on balls in play.

Minor has shown that he can sustain his high strikeout and low walk rates in the major leagues. If he's able to bring the high GB rate, he could prove an above average mid-rotation starter for the Braves in 2011 as well as a solid speculation play in fantasy leagues.

Minor is the favorite to nab the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation going into April, and is the most MLB-ready of any Atlanta prospects.

<< Previous (#4: Randall Delgado)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jim Callis talks Teheran, Freeman, 2011 draft

Baseball America's Jim Callis answered some Braves-relates on his Twitter feed today:

Read Screaming Indian's analysis of Julio Teheran and Freddie Freeman here and here. Julio and Freddie were numbers one and two in our top prospects ranking.

Callis also broke down the order of the 2011 amateur draft. The Braves' first pick will be the 28th overall selection. Anyone who knows me at all also knows that I hope that by some miracle this young man is still on the board when the Braves make their first pick.

Gonzalez: Kimbrel and Venters might share closing duties

At a time of year when reports of baseball players switching from glasses to contacts pass for news, stories like the one David O'Brien broke on his Twitter feed are a veritable bounty by comparison.

O'Brien goes on to say...

So what do we do with this? Well, like every other tidbit of information we get from now until opening day, we're going to overanalyze it.

The handedness issue immediately jumps out. In just 20 2/3 major league innings last year, Kimbrel - the righty - didn't betray a discernible platoon advantage (.079/.255/.105 vs. RHB, .176/.317/.206 vs. LHB).*

The lefty, Venters, offers more data thanks to a strong rookie campaign that saw him face 349 batters. But even with a much larger MLB sample than Kimbrel, Venters also doesn't betray a platoon split (.207/.312/.232 vs. RHB, .198/.310/.260).

So where does this leave us? In short, it leaves us with two very good, very young relievers that the manager apparently intends to use frequently in close-and-late situations. Platoon advantage or no, that's something about which we can be glad.

*Obviously, Kimbrel logged far more innings in the minors last year, but if L/R splits are available for the minor leagues, I don't know where to find them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

#4 Prospect: Randall Delgado

Randall Delgado gives the Braves yet another exciting, young power pitcher. The Panamanian right-hander turns 21 on Tuesday and will probably break camp with AA Mississippi, which might have the best starting rotation in the minors if system mates Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino are also assigned there.

Delgado profiles similarly to Teheran and Vizcaino but doesn't have as high of a ceiling. He's about a year older than both of them, throws his fastball a tick or two more slowly, and his secondary offerings aren't as refined - which isn't to dump on Delgado, it's just difficult not to talk about him in relation to those two.

Randall was stellar at High-A Myrtle Beach in 2010, striking out more than 25% of batters faced while walking just 32 and giving up 89 hits in 117 IP. Like every other advanced arm in the Braves' system, it seems, Delgado struggled after a late-season promotion to AA. Delgado continued to miss bats, but he had difficulty consistently finding the strike zone (20 BB in 40 2/3 IP).

Delgado projects as a solid #3 starter or a maybe even a #2, and he would probably be a top two prospect in most other systems, but with Teheran and Vizcaino ahead of him, the Braves can afford to trade Delgado if a need arises in the majors (or if the McLouth/Schafer platoon in center becomes manifestly untenable). Alternatively, it would be perhaps more interesting to see if Frank Wren would be amenable to flipping one of the Teheran/Vizcaino/Delgado trio to address this system's only real weakness - a relative dearth of up-the-middle talent.

ETA: The Braves are too stacked with pitching depth to worry about rushing his development. Barring a rash of injuries to the major league pitching staff in the next couple of years, I don't expect to see Delgado in the majors until late 2012 or early 2013. (The Braves have a $9 million club option on Tim Hudson's contract for 2013 with a $1 million buyout).

<< Previous (#3: Arodys Vizcaino)
>> Next (#5: Mike Minor)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Renewed hope for the "Dump Kawakami" movement

Ken Rosenthal reports that Kenshin Kawakami, whom you know from his work as a near-replacement level pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, could be acquired by one of two Japanese clubs that are reportedly willing to eat half of the $6.67 million owed to the 35-year-old RHP who was granted the dubious honor of a spring training non-roster invite.

His contract is a sunk cost, and in a market where $3 million buys one year of Manny Ramirez with change to spare, you have to take any opportunity available to dump a bad contract.

The Braves' 2011 payroll obligations (approximately $83 million) are currently $3 million greater than they were during 2010.

#3 Prospect: Arodys Vizcaino

Arodys Vizcaino was the prize of last winter's Javier Vazquez trade. At the time of the trade I was unsure of how I felt about it*, but with the benefit of a hindsight that includes Vazquez' disastrous 2010 campaign with the Yankees and Vizcaino's strong showing for the single-A Rome Braves, Frank Wren is looking pretty smart for making this move.

Vizcaino brings a fastball that sits 92-94 and touches 95 (even 96, according to a Mark Bowman source), an effective but inconsistent 82 MPH curve, and a very raw 80 MPH change.

Vizcaino's 2010 season was very similar to that of Julio Teheran - except that Vizcaino is about a month and a half older and was doing it at a lower level. In 72 1/3 IP of A-ball, Vizcaino struck out 68 against 9 walks while giving up just 63 hits for a WHIP of less than one. Upon a promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach, Vizcaino continued to display solid command of the strike zone but got hit pretty hard (8 extra base hits) in a limited 13 2/3 inning run before succumbing to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and getting shut down for the season. Luckily, Vizcaino was able to avoid Tommy John surgery, but the risk of re-injury casts a shadow over his 2011 season.

For that reason I think hope the Braves will be very conservative with Arodys in 2011. I expect him to be placed with Myrtle Beach or maybe Double-A Mississippi, depending on how good he looks as a spring training NRI. But I'd put his chances of reaching the big leagues at "approaching 0%" simply because the Braves have pitching depth and there's no reason to rush him. Barring injury, I expect him to show up in the big leagues by mid-2012 or Opening Day 2013 (the first game the Braves will play with Derek Lowe's contract off of the books).

Check out this video of Vizcaino throwing last June:

*In the article that I link to, I mention that the trade looks a lot better for the Braves if Melky Cabrera ends up getting traded or non-tendered, which I only bring up because I find it amusing.

>> Next (#4: Randall Delgado)
<< Previous (#2: Freddie Freeman)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Braves: Conrad, Proctor, Mather out of options

Newly anointed Baseball Prospectus author R.J. Anderson put an interesting piece out yesterday on players who are out of options. The Braves have three players on their 40 man roster who are currently out of options: Brooks Conrad, Scott Proctor, and Joe Mather.

Basically, the upshot is that if they don't make the 25 man major league roster for opening day, they will be placed on waivers.

Braves' full list of non-roster invitees

Hat tip to David O'Brien:

Julio Teheran
Arodys Vizcaino
Kenshin Kawakami
Johan Flande
Brett Oberholtzer
Michael Broadway
Rodrigo Lopez
Jay Sborz
Christian Bethancourt
J.C. Boscan
Wilkin Castillo
Braeden Schlehuber
Jesus Sucre
Shawn Bowman
Ed Lucas
Tyler Pastornicky
Brent Clevlen
Jose Constanza
Mycal Jones
Wilkin Ramriez

Teheran and Vizcaino included among Braves' non-roster invitees

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports via his twitter feed that hard-throwing RHP prospects Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino are among the Braves' spring training non-roster invitees.

Check out the Screaming Indian's profile of Julio Teheran here. Look for a profile on Arodys Vizcaino later today.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#2 Prospect: Freddie Freeman

By all accounts, Freddie Freeman will be the Braves' opening day first baseman. No Brave that still qualifies as a prospect (save perhaps Craig Kimbrel) is as ready to contribute to the major league roster as Freeman.

Many (including me) were puzzled by the decision to send Freeman to AAA to begin 2010 given his struggles in 169 plate appearances at AA in 2009 (.208/.308./.342), but Freeman surprised by putting up a robust triple slash line of .320/.378/.522 in 518 PA.

Freeman struggled mightily in limited big league at bats, going 4/24 with 8 strikeouts and no walks. He'll have to do better in 2011 if the Braves are going to avoid having first base be an offensive sink hole as it has so often in the post-McGriff era.

Freeman profiles as a John Olerud type minus the exceptional defensive play. Freddie doesn't walk a lot, but his high contact rate and gap power give him a chance to provide some offensive value. At his peak he should hit for a high average with about 20-25 HR and 30 doubles a year.

I'd say his upside in 2011 is something along the lines of Gaby Sanchez's 2010. Bill James projects an ambitious .282/.335/.446 line while Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster has him pegged for a more realistic .271/.322/.429 showing.

Freeman was ranked the #17 overall prospect by and the #43 prospect by Keith Law.

>> Next (#3: Arodys Vizcaino)
<< Previous (#1 Julio Teheran)

Tuesday Links

Mark Bowman blogs that Jason Heyward still has limited range of motion in the left thumb that he injured last May. Heyward had this to say:
"I still can't bend it anywhere close to where it was before.  I don't know if I ever will be able to do that.  But I know it's not holding me back from hitting."  
It's worth keeping an eye on, but if he managed to hit .273/.393/.456 when it was hurting him, then it's probably not something we should be too worried about at this point.

In front office news, the Braves signed veteran RHP Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract on Monday. Dave Cameron of quipped that the "Braves essentially got Bronson Arroyo Lite for free, while Bronson Arroyo Home Premium cost as much as much as Paul Knoerko... A lot of teams could have used a guy like Rodrigo Lopez at the back-end of their rotation, especially at an asking price not that far over the league minimum."

Dave O'Brien reports that Craig Kimbrel's stuff was looking pretty nasty during a Tuesday throwing session.

Oh, and some guy named Chipper says that he'll be ready to play on opening day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Julio Teheran is the Braves' #1 prospect

Jason Heyward was the no-brainer #1 prospect in the Atlanta system going into last season. His graduation obviously hurts the strength of the farm system, but Julio Teheran makes a worthy top prospect as well. The Braves signed Teheran for $850,000 as a 16-year-old based on his raw projection, but as a 19-year-old in 2010, Teheran started to turn that raw projection into actualized skill.

The right-hander demolished the opposition at High-A Myrtle Beach, striking out 76 batters in just 63 and 1/3 innings pitched against 56 hits and 13 walks. Upon advancing to Double-A, Teheran struggled with his command, compiling a 38:17 K/BB ratio in 40 innings pitched. The jump from High A to AA is widely thought to be the second-toughest jump behind AAA to MLB. Look for Teheran to begin 2011 with the Double-A affiliate.

If Julio comes out of the gates in 2011 blowing hitters away with his mid-90s fastball, devastating curve, and above-average changeup like he did in A-ball while demonstrating improved command of the strike zone, he could be in a position to help the major league team down the stretch in September and into the playoffs. Personally, I think the Braves play this one conservatively given the wealth of young pitching talent already at their disposal, and we don't see Teheran until 2012.

But when he does arrive, we're looking at a top of the rotation starter with several All-Star seasons if he reaches his ceiling.

Teheran was ranked the 7th overall prospect by Keith Law and the 10th overall prospect by

>> Next (#2: Freddie Freeman)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Einhorn is a man!

On Monday the Tigers traded RHP Armando Galaragga (of imperfect perfect game fame) and cash (of Vernon Wells fame) to the Diamondbacks for Kevin Eichorn and Ryan Robowski.

Really, guys? EINHORN? Wouldn't it have been worth it to sign a guy named Finkle off of the street so he could be included in this trade and we could have another excuse to watch THIS?!

I and an entire generation of people who were still young enough in 1994 to find Ace Ventura funny sure as hell think so.

The Return of the Screaming Indian

Hey guys. Is anyone still reading this? Probably not. Let's face it. Why would you? It's been almost a year since I posted. But I'm hear to let you know that we're back.

My lack of posts - while partly derived from general laziness - was mostly a conscious decision. Basically, I felt like I didn't have anything to say about the Braves or baseball in general that wasn't already well-covered by a variety of other sources.

And if I'm not bringing a perspective that I feel advances the discussion instead of just repeats what you've already read five times over, what's the point? With that in mind, the revamped Screaming Indian will not try to be something that I don't have the time to turn it into - namely, an incredibly through, almost beat reporter-esque type of blog.

Instead, I'm going to take a more whimsical look at baseball and write about what I feel like writing about rather than what I feel like I'm supposed to be writing about. (Yes, using the word 'whimsical' hurts me as much as it hurts you to read it, but it's appropriate here).

With that out of the way, I'm very excited about the encroaching dawn of spring training.

It's good to be back.