A few scattered thoughts now that baseball is back:

  • What a tour de force by Bo Porter. In his debut as an MLB manager, he did two good things that maybe three or four other managers anywhere in baseball would do.

    First, he brought in Erik Bedard to get a critical lefty out in the top of the sixth, but then let Bedard take it the rest of the way. Now, the game was blown open while Bedard was in the dugout having gotten just one out, and we don’t know whether Porter would have stuck with him had the margin remained thin. Still, it’s refreshing to see a 10-out relief effort, even from a starter-in-waiting.

    Second, he pinch-hit for Brandon Barnes in the bottom of the sixth, recognizing a high-leverage situation. Rick Ankiel made the decision look even better than it was by hitting a three-run pinch-hit homer, but the process is what captivated me, not the outcome.

  • I very much doubt the Astros are planning a long-term pitching overhaul, something radically different from the current model of arm usage. I will say, though, that if that were their intent, it’s not like we would have heard about it. You would want to ambush your competition with any major zag from the industry’s zig.

    It’s possible they will continue to use relievers for very long outings, maybe even piggy-back them with certain starters, as they are doing in the high minor leagues. We wouldn’t know until it had already happened.

  • The news of an imminent Elvis Andrus extension has me scratching my head. If the next piece of news is that Jurickson Profar has been dealt, or that Ian Kinsler has been, okay, great. Otherwise, though, it confuses me. Both Profar and Andrus are tremendous defensive shortstops, top-10 defenders at the most important position on the diamond. Yes, each has a good enough stick to have value at second base, too, or perhaps even in center field, but obviously, their positional/defensive contribution is diluted in either case.

    I would have expected Texas to choose Profar, since Kinsler is signed long-term already and Andrus could fetch a nice return, plus they would have more financial flexibility. Instead, it looks like they either prefer Andrus, or want to keep both. The former position is fine; the latter seems an untenable strategy.

  • Some position battle winners who surprised me:

    Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks won the fifth starter job. I would have taken Randall Delgado myself. Part of that is my default preference for right-handed starters, but Delgado also seems to have the higher upside, from what I know and have seen. Corbin joins Wade Miley as a second lefty in the Arizona rotation.

    Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Jose Fernandez got Opening-Day roster spots, which underscores what I see becoming the trend all over baseball very, very soon: Teams are going to stop caring at all when players would theoretically become free agents, or even whether they achieve Super Two arbitration status. It just doesn’t make any sense to hold back players who can help the team in the name of theoretically saving a year of team control. If a guy is really good, if he blossoms in a really important way, you’re going to sign him to an extension, anyway. It’s no longer worth gaming the system and pissing off player agents just to kick that can down the road. The extensions that are killing free agency should also be killing the hand-wringing over this issue.

    Luis Mendoza got the fifth starter’s gig in Kansas City, beating out Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. I never would have thought he could blow past both of them. There’s a really good chance I’m the only person who feels this way, but I think Mendoza has some real and measurable upside, so to me, that’s a fairly big win for the Royals. I think he’s two wins better than either competitor. Maybe more.

I will consume my first live baseball of 2013 when I tune the radio in and listen to the first few innings of the Twins and Tigers today. It’s frigid here in Minnesota. Still excited.

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