You know, when there is more time than there is news to report, sometimes you do a fluff piece (or two, or five) to fill the gaps in the news cycles. And sometimes you talk about the guys that make up the future of the club. These young, unproven, yet promising lads are sometimes not even Rookies…they have another name: Prospects. Fans, in their boredom, are relegated to speculating on the use of any name thrown out there by a team’s media outlet. In my case, I follow the Chicago White Sox home page religiously, looking for any scrap of information to devour, and digest, and ultimately to excrete from my backside. It’s simply nourishment from the baseball gods, to feed the hungry, the poor, huddled-masses of fans in a long and cold winter of waiting for Pitchers & Catchers to report in February.
I try to get my baseball jones fix from a variety of sources, and not just one…as you can imagine, even hours and hours wasted away trolling the internet for scraps can’t even remotely satisfy the beast that is my baseball hunger, but what I do find is taken for what it is worth. Mostly opinion, speculation, supposition, and flat-out guess-work. The guys who really know what’s what, are the coaches and GM’s, the guys behind the scenes…the guy behind the guy if you will. And guess what? They ain’t talkin’. Because at this time of year, “you’ve got to know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, and know when to run…you never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table, there’ll be time enough for countin’…when the dealin’s done.” For my White Sox, we got most (if not all) of our off-season shopping done before the Holidays, and still left a little coin in the purse for a bargain-basement, pennies-on-the-dollar deal of a deal when Spring Training rolls around, which will come in very handy for a guy that is staring unemployment square in the face, with no plan for a voluntary retirement…in other words, the music is about to stop, and he got no chair. Smart position to be in, or simply stand pat, and wait to see what the new season brings before making an in-season addition with some cash in the bank that was saved by not trying to figure it ALL out before the new club takes the field.
All this said, when not much in the way of new information is being released, you have to look very carefully at what information is being released. If there is talk of an up and coming young player, or that the club is very high on so and so, or that someone looks like they are going to get a long look, or is going to fit nicely into the future plans…add all of that up, and what do you have? Nothing. Smoke is light, but is effective, it blinds the eyes and makes it hard to see what is really happening at the source. True, that where there is smoke, there is usually fire, but not always. For my bet, if people are talking about a player who has yet to prove himself on the major league level, it’s for one reason: HYPE. The more you can convince everyone that a guy has value, the more you can get in trade. It’s why there is a draft every year. To re-stock the pond. Rookie League(s), Single A (2 clubs), Double A, Triple A rosters full of talent and promise. Sources who rate that talent, scouts who try to identify “who’s next?”, and all the while, we hear about what and who might, could, would, or should…be of any use or value at the next level.
The fact is, the more you HEAR, the more you should expect that a deal is imminent (or at least coming in the next year) for that topic of conversation. But, until you SEE that commodity with a name & number on his back running out into the sun for the big club…don’t be fooled, and don’t get too attached. For crying out loud people, they’re just prospects. They could just as easily call them widgets, but people might take offense…and we wouldn’t want that, would we?