They’ve made a mini-celebration out of “Truck Day” in Boston — that day when the semis full of gear leave Fenway and head down to Ft. Myers — for the past ten years or so. Kinda silly, but a nice enough little ceremony. Better than the groundhog as far as harbingers of spring go anyway.
This is the first year, however, where I’ve heard of other teams — or fans of other teams — making hay over their own Truck Days. The chatter on this has been growing all week. MLB.com has a whole article about it today, talking about various trucks leaving various parks for various spring training destinations. Which leads me to ask two questions:
1) Has this always happened? I’ll grant that I may have missed it in the past — I’m obviously following things a lot closer this winter than I did back when I was a working stiff — but I have no memory whatsoever of anyone but the Red Sox making a big deal out of it before this year, and even then it was a really minor and relatively recent phenomenon;
2) If I’m not imagining it and it is a new thing, do we give the people at MLB credit for coming up with a new marketing/promotional thing, or do we heap scorn on them for synthesizing some phony fan event, ripping off the Red Sox or whatever? Because I’m kind of confused about it.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.