It may be cloudy overhead, a bit cool with the constant threat of rain, but that doesn't mean we can't look past the next few months to opening day in Oakland.
With all the roster additions and possibilities this winter and spring training two weeks off, why not leap frog it all and come up with the Seattle Mariners lineup for the April 5 in season opener in Oakland?
Figure Seattle will start Felix Hernandez and Oakland will counter with right-hander Ben Sheets, if he can get through spring without hurting something.
So there you have it: a right-hander on the mound and - no surprise here - the first two men in the Mariners lineup are right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and third baseman Chone Figgins. Release the rabbits!
Beyond that? Let's have it. Obviously, who does well in camp and who can stay healthy will impact that April 5 lineup. But we're in no mood to wait two months. There are non-roster invitees, even minor leaguers, who could conceiveably make the team, but it's unlikely.
Let's start with position players on the current 40-man roster and go from there, not counting Ichiro and Figgins.
Two catchers, Rob Johnson and Adam Moore. Infielders aplenty: Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Ryan Garko, Jack Hannahan, Casey Kotchman, Jose Lopez, Matt Tuiasosopo and Jack Wilson.
Outfielders? Milton Bradley, Eric Byrnes, Ezequiel Carrera, Ken Griffey Jr., Franklin Gutierrez, Greg Halman, Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders.
Now, finish off an opening day lineup from that group. Right field and third base are taken, but put together your team and a batting order and - what the heck - how about a final score for that opener?
It's February. Let's make it April 5 for a few hours.
Now, a few links:
- In St. Louis, where the Cardinals are kings, the baseball community seems divided about new batting coach Mark McGwire - and the New York Times has a fine piece on the dilemma.
- Jon Miller's selection to the Hall of Fame wing for broadcasters is well-deserved. Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle calls him a national treasure - and he's right.
- Reflecting on Tiger Miguel Cabrera's battle with alcoholism, Jon Paul Morosi asks whether it's time for baseball to follow the NFL and and ban all alcohol from big-league clubhouses. Interesting read.
- Hard to believe, but with the market drying up, agent Scott Boras now says Johnny Damon would love to play for the Detroit Tigers. Of course, he adds lots of teams are reaching out to Damon now. Right.
- The Mariners opened a mini-camp for 41 of their prized minor leaguers - including Josh Fields, Joe Dunnigan and Carlos Triuenfel - are taking part. Everett's Kirby Arnold was on hand in Arizona and delivers this story.
- Xavier Nady signed as a fourth outfielder in Chicago, but Cubs GM Jim Hendry says he could replace any of the regulars ahead of him. Why? "Lou Piniella is all about winning," Hendry said. And he's right.
- If you love reading about baseball's greatest, you have to read Joe Posnanski's piece on Stan Musial, who turns 90 this year.
- Another Cardinals Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson, talked about Mark McGwire and steroids: "I'm just happy they weren't available (when he played), because if I knew somebody else was doing it and appeared to be getting an edge, I think I would have been tempted."