Hey, crazy trade talk has started early this year!

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One of the things I love about the early hot stove season is the crazy trade talk. Once things get going hot and heavy in December people get realistic, but in the few days after a team is eliminated you get all kinds of insane speculation.

An excellent example of it comes in Jeff Schultz’s column at the AJC today. The overall point — should the Braves trade Jair Jurrjens? — is an interesting and valuable one. Maybe they should, if he’s not already seen as damaged goods.  But the tag at the end of the piece is red meat for my crazy trade talk fixation:

I’ll leave you with this: Columbus, Ga., native and St. Louis center field Colby Rasmus clashed this season with manager Tony La Russa and
requested a trade two months ago. Would you be willing to part with
Jurrjens if he was part of a Rasmus trade?

The answer, yes. And I’d even be willing to throw in a couple hundred bucks to pay for the lobotomy that would be required for John Mozeliak to even consider it.

But the real beauty of that is the reference to Rasmus being from Columbus, Georgia. As if he’d have any real say in where he goes, thereby rendering the Braves a more likely target, even if the Cardinals were foolish enough to trade him.  It’s that kind of little hook — geography usually, but sometimes a relationship with one of the target team’s coaches or something — that really makes the “hey, what the hell” trade speculation special.

I’m not trying to slam Schultz here. Fans and bloggers and stuff are way worse about coming up with silly trade scenarios. Just using his piece as an example of the stuff we can expect a flood of after the postseason is over.  It’s what keeps us warm in the cold winter months, ya know?

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.