's Anthony Castrovince unloads on CC Sabathia


Anthony Castrovince is one of’s best. He’s a good reporter and, unlike some of the other people over there, he doesn’t give off the impression that he’s overly cozy with the team he covers, the Cleveland Indians. He’s a straight shooter, as likely to see things from the player’s perspective as he is the team’s perspective when those two perspectives are at odds. And even if he’s arguing one side of things, he’s always been fair in my experience.

As a result, if Castrovince is going after someone — I mean really going after someone — you can bet that something really, really got under his skin. In this case it’s CC Sabathia, who said yesterday, in response to a question about the Indians losing him, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in the space of a year or so, that “that wasn’t our fault. They traded us. That’s on them.”

Read Castovince’s laser-guided missile assault at CC Sabathia in full for all of its glory. In the meantime, here’s a taste:

Essentially, Sabathia got lucky. Because 50 years from now, Indians
fans won’t remember him as the guy who walked away from the Tribe for
the big payday elsewhere. He won’t go down with the likes of Albert
Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Rather, he’ll be remembered as the
Cy Young winner the Indians stupidly dealt in his prime.

Nevermind, of course, that the Indians were forced to deal Sabathia
because he was going to walk away three months later and because he and
his teammates crumbled upon the weight of expectations in 2008.
Nevermind that the primary reason that ’07 team — a “good team” in its
own right, having won 96 games in the regular season — didn’t ascend to
the World Series like it should have was because Sabathia was
outpitched in Games 1 and 5.

If Sabathia were being honest with himself and honest with the fans, he
would have said, “This is a business, and it’s difficult for a team in a
smaller market like Cleveland to afford to keep its core intact. That’s
why it’s a shame we weren’t able to take advantage of the special
opportunity we had in ’07. And as the ace of that pitching staff, I take
the brunt of the blame.”

You may disagree with parts of it, but I think Castrovince got it mostly right. The key here is that Castrovince does not — like so many other scribes who criticize big money players — expect some sort of loyalty from Sabathia. He didn’t expect CC to say with the Indians because such a thing made no economic or logical sense for anyone. All he expects is honesty from guys in Sabathia’s position. For them to say “hey, baseball economics are what they are, and that leads to things like Lee, Martinez and I getting traded,” rather than to disingenuously blame the team.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I think that Castrovince nailed it.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.