Spare Parts: Leftovers from the last days of a slow winter

When pitchers and catchers report to spring training, warm fuzzies usually follow. But with the top two free agents unsigned, and other unrelated quality players finding compelling offers in short supply, everybody’s getting a little ornery.

For instance, Major League Baseball tried to make a topical funny about Steve Kerr telling Bryce Harper to sign with the Giants. The top replies are what they should’ve expected.

The Marlins are going through this on an individual level right now, with team president Michael Hill imploring fans to “give us a chance” after trading away all the fan favorites over the last two seasons. Miami is in a sadder situation than all the rebuilding teams, so much so that baseball has sucked the life out of its best cliche.

“Only one team gets to win the championship every year,” said right-handed pitcher Dan Straily, who started 56 games for the Marlins over the past two seasons. “I think every year, with every team in baseball, there’s a little bit of excitement for everybody to get going. There’s always that hope that this could be the year.”

Is there? No, there isn’t, because the teams themselves stopped believing it.

Spare Parts

James Fegan got a great story out of his trip to the Dominican Republic and Reynaldo Lopez’s old neighborhood. Lopez’s path to the majors required more faith than usual. He signed as an 18-year-old because he showed none of the usual markers of promise, and yet here he is.

After the White Sox released him during spring training 2017, Brett Lawrie will be back on the field after the Brewers extended him a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Lawrie’s White Sox career lasted only 94 games due to an injury the Sox couldn’t pin down, with the description involving his hamstring, quad, knee and hip. Lawrie blamed orthotic inserts and didn’t have rave reviews about the White Sox training staff, but subsequent interviews during Lawrie’s idle period offered little clarity.

On the subject of former Sox, Melky Cabrera is still plugging along, this time heading to Pittsburgh in an attempt to catch a break. Cabrera took advantage of a similar minor league deal with Cleveland last year and hit .280/.335/.420 for the Indians over 78 games.

Cabrera’s biggest selling point? A team knows exactly what it’s going to get.

  • First 10 seasons: .286/.339/.415
  • With White Sox: .287/.331/.427
  • With Indians: .280/.335/.420
  • Career: .286/.335/.418

That hitting line becomes a lot less valuable as his defense declines, but still.

OK, maybe Tony La Russa was a bigger factor than Jerry Reinsdorf in Baines’ surprising triumph in the Today’s Game Committee. He’s back to defending Baines’ honor, this time using words besides “weak-ass, superficial bulls—.”

He sent a post around the league that Buster Olney shared, and it’s mostly cherry-picking and selective endpoints, but whatever. Baines was an above-average hitter for an exceptionally long time, and as baseball gets more and more unkind to limited, aging hitters, Baines isn’t going to have many peers, even in the Hall of Very Good

In the wake of Frank Robinson’s death, I’m glad Tim Brown followed up on this story, because it’s what I remember most about the portion of Robinson’s baseball career that happened in my lifetime.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I admire how often you’ve managed to make chicken salad this winter….


Another player I think Hahn and Co. should look into acquiring is Hunter Renfroe on the Padres. The Padres have a glut of outfielders and Renfroe is the odd man out. He is 27 with 3 more years of control, coming off a 1.6 fwar season. He is tooled up with plus power. He doesn’t get on base well but he can be had for relatively cheap and is wayyy better than patrolling Palka out there. 

Big Hurt Beer

Plus that fWAR calculation doesn’t take into account his value as a slot receiver.


Margalus coming up on ESPN radio!


Thank you for closing this piece with an aside that will have me reaching for my Geritol. (That Frank Robinson anecdote was THIRTY YEARS into his managerial career.)


Starting to feel like this is slipping away from us.