Reminder to take spring results with grain of salt
History proves Grapefruit, Cactus League records not indicative of season success
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the final days of the spring of 1989, with the Chicago Cubs having lost 23 of their 32 spring games, then third-base coach Chuck Cottier suggested he and manager Don Zimmer might get an early vacation with the way the team was shaping up.
To the contrary, Cottier and the rest of the Cubs' organization were busy right up through the National League Championship Series, the team winning the NL East in 1989 before being knocked off by the NL West champion San Francisco Giants.
The moment is offered as a reminder to fans, media and club officials that with the start of the spring season next week, it's time to take a deep breath.
What happens in March stays in March.
The Kansas City Royals haven't been to the postseason since 1985, the longest October absence among the 30 big league teams.
The last five years, however, the Royals have a best-in-baseball 93-60 Spring Training record. Their 25-7 record a year ago is the second-best spring record in a full spring since 1984. Not that success in the spring guarantees failure during the season. The Tigers do have the second-best exhibition record the last five years (92-65). They also have won three consecutive AL Central titles, and they won the AL pennant in 2012.
Six of the last 11 World Series champions did not have a winning record during Spring Training.
St. Louis won the World Series in 2011, Tony La Russa's final year as the manager, but the Cardinals were only 14-16 during the Grapefruit League campaign, and the defending Red Sox were 17-17 last spring. Philadelphia was 12-18 in 2008, the Chicago White Sox 14-18 in 2005, and the Florida Marlins 15-16 in 2003.
San Francisco, meanwhile, won the 2010 World Series and was 23-12 in 2010, a year after the New York Yankees went 24-10 in the spring en route to a 2009 title. Boston was 17-11 in 2004, and 15-12 in '07. St. Louis was 15-14 in '06, and the Giants were 18-15 during the spring of 2012.
With Nelson Cruz agreeing to terms in Baltimore, the makeover of the Texas Rangers' roster continues from the 2011 World Series. Eight of the 24 players who appeared in that World Series for the Rangers remain with the organization, and only three of the 13 position players -- Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland. The remaining pitchers are Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando.
Cruz finally accepted a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, well below the $14.1 million qualifying offer the Rangers made back in December to ensure they would get a Draft choice for Cruz if they didn't re-sign him. Cruz was one of 13 free agents given the tender offer. All 13 declined to re-sign with their former team.
Seem like a major roster overhaul?
Well, the Cardinals, who beat the Rangers in the 2011 World Series, have only eight of the 25 players who appeared in that Fall Classic on their current 40-man roster, and five of the eight are position players -- Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina. The remaining pitchers are Jamie Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte.
Garcia is the only starting pitcher from 2011 on the roster. Chris Carpenter retired. Edwin Jackson opted for free agency after the 2011 season, and Kyle Lohse signed with Milwaukee as a free agent last year.
• With Baltimore signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Cruz in the past week, three of the 13 free agents who were made qualifying offers remain unsigned -- Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana.
• Atlanta has lost three key professional scouts since the end of last season with the death of Jim Fregosi, retirement of Dick Balderson and resignation of Dom Chiti to accept a job as the bullpen coach of the Orioles.
• Rockies catching coach Rene Lachemann is in uniform as a player, coach or manager for the 51st consecutive season. Originally one of the Kansas City A's bonus babies signed by Charlie Finley, Lachemann played for the A's, where he was a teammate of Satchel Paige, and managed Seattle, Milwaukee and the expansion Florida Marlins.