Mining the News (3/1/21) by Jeff Zimmerman March 1, 2021 First, the words written to cover baseball have exploded but it’s 99% fluff. They’ve been completely useless for setting fantasy baseball evaluations. Second, I’ve started collecting Spring Training velocity readings and the ones I’ve collected so far are in this spreadsheet. American League Astros • Yordan Alvarez might play some first base. With Alvarez’s knees healthy, the Astros are hoping to try him out this spring at first base, like they did early in his Minor League career. “If he’s able to move around like he did two years ago, he would be capable of playing first base,” Astros bench coach Joe Espada said. “It’s just a matter if the legs feel good enough to stop and push and take those tough angles that are required to play first base. If he’s healthy, we’re going to give it a shot and see how he looks. If he shows the movement and range he showed in 2018 when I first got here, I think he could be very capable of doing it.” Alvarez’s knees must be gone for the Astros to try him at a new position. I’m so far off him at this point • Here is a lineup projection from The Athletic. 1. Myles Straw CF 2. Jose Altuve 2B 3. Michael Brantley (L) LF 4. Alex Bregman 3B 5. Yordan Alvarez (L) DH 6. Carlos Correa SS 7. Kyle Tucker (L) RF 8. Yuli Gurriel 1B 9. Martín Maldonado C I know I’ve harped on this subject in the past, but I can’t believe Tucker is getting buried at seventh for Straw to leadoff. This B.S. can’t last longer than a month, right? Blue Jays • Randel Grichuck will mainly start in right field. Grichuk has been told he’ll see the majority of his playing time in right field this season, but how does that work? The Blue Jays have Teoscar Hernández in right, who’s coming off a breakout season with a .919 OPS, good for his first Silver Slugger Award. Grichuk understands the realities here, but he expects this to develop as time goes on. Since the signing of George Springer and Marcus Semien, it seems like Grichuck doesn’t have a lineup spot. With this comment, I’m a little worried that Hernandez will lose some at-bats to Grichuck. Both are right-handed and don’t have much for career splits, so there is little chance for a platoon. Hernandez’s value could really take a hit if he loses even 100 PA’s. Orioles • Cedric Mullins will quit switch-hitting and only bat from the left side. Other than Mancini, the biggest news of the day was a decision by Mullins to stop switch-hitting. He will focus on hitting left-handed, where he has been a better hitter and starts closer to first to take advantage of his speed. He was 1-for-3 on Sunday. About time since Mullins has hit .251/.305/.394 from the left side and only .147/.250/.189 from the right. Rangers • Ronald Guzman is now focusing on baseball and has reworked his swing. [Ronald Guzman] wasn’t positive he would be back with the Rangers in 2021, so he wanted to better his game both mentally and physically. Guzmán said he’s now focused 100 percent on baseball. He transformed his entire swing in the offseason, swinging less with his entire body and instead hitting the ball out front. Maybe he’ll get better at baseball now that he’s trying to get better at baseball. National League Brewers • The shortstop and third base battles are a mess. The following quote is from MLBtraderumors and does a good job summarizing the situation described in this The Athletic article. Milwaukee has built a lot of flexibility into the left side of its infield, as Urias, Orlando Arcia, and Daniel Robertson can all play either shortstop or third base, while Travis Shaw is also an option at the hot corner. Shaw can play first base as well, and Arcia also said that he is preparing to work out as a center fielder. Arcia made a single appearance in center field (the first of professional career) last season, playing four innings at the position on August 12 in a 12-2 loss to the Twins. Here are the projections for the four players in question. The Brewers are just throwing poo against the wall and seeing what sticks. Cardinals • There is a chance that Matt Carpenter moves to second base if Tommy Edman has to move to the outfield. Tommy Edman is set to take over at second base, a place Carpenter — an All-Star there in 2013 — has been preparing for defensively through Spring Training. The pair could platoon, which the Cardinals have been hesitant to do in the past, though Edman seems to be the clear favorite for regular starting time. The Cardinals could also do this: With questions about their projected outfield’s offensive prowess, Edman — a career rover in the field — could tag back into the grass should Carpenter’s play at the plate force him into starting time. Edman said he has been taking some fly-ball practice in the outfield this spring, but his focus has been primarily on second. The outfield will really have to fall apart for this scenario to play out. Padres • Manny Machado had Lasik surgery this offseason. But Machado did make one noteworthy change. He had laser eye surgery, because he said his vision has felt slightly off during night games under the lights in recent seasons. Why make that change after a season in which he batted above .300? “Hopefully it helps me see the ball a little better, and I can hit .320, .330,” he said with a wry smile. Pirates • Kevin Newman reworked his swing. “I worked on being kind of direct and short to the ball. I felt [my swing] was a little long last year,” Newman said. Reds • Kyle Farmer reworked his swing. He revamped his swing this offseason, working with Pirates hitting coach Rick Eckstein near his Atlanta-area home. … The two started by watching video, ultimately deciding that Farmer’s swing wasn’t really ideal for his body. Together, they worked on Farmer using more of his legs and trying to stay down on the ball more than hitting in the air.