It’s officially Spring Training! With Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo’s Big League Stew!


We talk about the big talking points heading into Spring Training which, for the first time I can remember, do not include the American League East or steroids. It’s kind of amazing, actually.

That’s not to say the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t great and the Rays signing Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, or the Orioles annual attempt to become relevant, aren’t big stories, but let’s face it, there are four major topics as camp opens. We take them in this order.

The Phillies pitching staff. Are they as loved by national media members as they are by fans of the team? This actually includes an interesting conversation about tickets and how the Phillies are literally making money on top of money with all their sellouts. Can’t find a ticket? Go to StubHub, where the team and MLB get a cut of the markup. We also get into a pretty long debate that includes Cole Hamels and whether or not he was prepared to be the face of his franchise (something he’ll never have to deal with now that he has Roy and Roy and Cliff ahead of him in the rotation.) The idea of a face of the franchise, of course, leads to…

• Albert Pujols. Isn’t saying you don’t want to be a distraction more of a distraction than not saying anything and just trying to get a deal done whenever it gets done? We try to figure out which side — player or team — has done a worse job with the PR nightmare they’ve created in St. Louis. And what should we expect from the Cardinals fans this season? Will they turn on Pujols during the year if a deal isn’t consummated? Have some turned on him already? And yes, I’m pretty sure we throw a blanket over the entire city and call them racists. It’s pertinent to the discussion, trust me.

Could Pujols actually leave St. Louis? Could he actually go to the Cubs next year or is that just a twist of the NL Central knife by some sportswriters trying to mess with Cardinals fans? And back to the lack of distractions, if you were a beat writer for the Cardinals — or for their divisional opponents — would you respect his wishes and not ask about it or would you ask about it every single day until he signs somewhere or stuffs you in a locker? (A story’s a story.)

Oh, and while Pujols doesn’t want the distraction of a contract negotiation during the season, we talk about what his agent is doing while he’s playing. Isn’t that the agent’s job? Isn’t that the GM’s job? How hard would it be for a deal to get done between them, with Albert coming in on an off day or when he gets to the clubhouse SIX HOURS BEFORE A GAME to hammer out some details? This whole situation is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as…

• Miguel Cabrera. He obviously has a problem with substance abuse. We discuss the situation and try to figure out if there’s anything the team — or the league — can do to try and get him help without overstepping the collective bargaining agreement. Should the league draft updated language for alcohol-related offenses? Is that hypocritical of a league that has alcohol in almost every clubhouse after a game, with many teams playing in stadiums named after beer brands?

Specifically , what should the Tigers do? If they persuade Cabrera to get long-term help, it ends up hurting the team on the field. That said, if his problems are as serious as they seem, maybe having him on the field isn’t as helpful as they need it to be. It’s a very tough spot for the front office, in a very different way than…

The Mets. How screwed are they? It’s almost not even fun to rip on their plight anymore. Donald Trump may be their savior? That can’t end well.