Scenes from Spring Training: It finally feels like baseball

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Maybe you don’t have to be at a ballpark on a 75 degree day in March in order for it to feel like baseball season, but it sure does help.  Because I gotta tell ya, I’m feeling baseball today.

My last actual working duty of the day happened a few minutes ago. I interviewed Torii Hunter for tonight’s NBC SportsTalk show.  You can check it out at 6PM on the NBC Sports Network. I won’t give it all away, but I can give you a tantalizing hint of the bombshells I got Hunter to drop: the Angels “just have to take care of [their] business” and it’s awful nice that key players aren’t injured this year like they were last year.  Just nuts, I realize.

Anyway, when I got done with Hunter I walked around the ballpark for a while before the first pitch.  Stuff I saw:

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Sorry. I just can’t resist the cliche equipment-bag-on-the-field-before-a-game photo. I take it every single time it presents itself.

On the other hand, I probably should resist pics like this:

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That was the second orange Marlins cap I saw in the space of about ten minutes. We all said they were ugly. We underestimated the number of dudes like this in the world.

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Ah, more traditional fans. All waiting for autographs. I walked in front of people like this along the entire first base line. Three times during my journey I was asked to pick up Sharpie markers people dripped on the field. I’m going to invent a little tether device and market it to autograph-seekers. Or else I’m just gonna stop giving the markers back and hoard them.

Meanwhile:

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The White Sox put their hands in the air. And they wave them as if they believe there are no repercussions.  Two White Sox were not stretching, though. Dayan Viciedo was being a nice guy:

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And Adam Dunn was throwing a baseball for some reason. As if that’s going to come up sometime this year or something. Whatevs, Adam.

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Oh, wait. He got the start at first base today. God, I love spring training.

The game started a few minutes ago. John Danks looks awful through one inning so far, and it’s 2-0 Angels.  Who I keep calling the Cardinals because they’re wearing red today and Albert Pujols plays for them.

Bear with me. It’s still spring training for me too.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.