We’ve reached a turning point. Almost every baseball team ever held their Fan Fest/Winter Caravan/rally event/excuse to sell season tickets this weekend. Spring training is less than a month away.
Another hunt for the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) will begin soon. But before that happens we most honor the past.
The baseball side of the JMMA has three winners. Improbably, all of them could be in camp for somebody next year.
Blaine Hardy and Jose Alvarez are guarantees.
Hardy went from spring training destroyer to American League arson with his flaming hot stuff (actually his off-speed pitches earned him the job but keep that on the down low). Despite some late bumps in the road he’s a given to be in the Tigers’ bullpen next year.
Alvarez missed almost the entire season last year for the Angels after being traded from the Tigers for Andrew Romine in March. A year later he’s somehow closer to the big leagues than where he started.
The Angels have a severe lack of starting pitching depth. After their top three the caliber rolls down a hill at a major-league and minor-league level. Alvarez didn’t have the chance to show he was terrible last season and that helped him. He ranks somewhere around No. 7 on the Angels’ organizational starting depth chart. Two injuries and he’s back in The Show.
Chris Bootcheck, on the other hand, couldn’t be further away. Right now he just needs a uniform. The 36 year old played last season in the Phillies organization. An injury ended his season prematurely. For the third time in three seasons, I figured that year was his last year.
Then, in early December he started tweeting about winter ball.