No need to count down the days to when pitchers and catchers report — the Mets may cancel spring training, according to a source close to The Situation.
In their latest
cost-cutting move strategy for long-term success, Thomas J. White Stadium Tradition Field Digital Domain Park will remain closed until the Florida State League season begins in early April. Instead of conducting spring training workouts and playing exhibition games, Mets players will be expected to get in shape on their own.
“Players today start working out on their own — usually under the supervision of highly specialized trainers — in the late fall or early winter,” said the source. “Having them come in and go through mindless, worthless exercises such as jumping jacks and rundown drills may actually stall, rather than increase, player conditioning and performance — and we have studies to prove it. For example, there is no evidence suggesting a direct correlation between hitting off a tee and OPS. Similarly, a pitcher’s FIPs has is completely unaffected by PFPs (pitchers’ fielding practice).”
Extending independent training with personal strength and conditioning consultants also takes the financial burden of player conditioning off of the team, but the source insists this move has nothing to do with economics.
“On the surface, sure, it looks like a financial decision,” admitted the source, “but in truth, this is an out-of-the-box initiative designed to produce healthier players who spend less time on the disabled list.”
“Look, our medical history over the past few years has been disappointing, as key players have suffered serious injuries and missed a significant number of games. Our studies suggest that the more time players spend on a ballfield, the more chance they have of getting injured. So, by removing six weeks of spring training, we reduce the risk of an injury occurring.”
The source also suggested that by starting up in April, players are less likely to tire out in the last weeks of the season. “And we all know that fatigue is the number one risk factor for injuries,” he said.
Further, the source had viable explanations for missing out on the head-to-head competition provided by exhibition games.
“Let’s be realistic: no one takes those games seriously anyway,” he said, “most of the MLBers are out of the game by the third or fourth inning. Again, there is no proof that facing an opponent in March does anything to help performance from April through September. And besides, a number of our players compete in winter leagues, so it could be argued that they’ll need the rest from game play.”
And what about player evaluation by the coaching staff? Spring training is often the time when positions are won or lost, and the manager decided who will and won’t make the 25-man roster.
“Spring training competitions are completely overblown and overrated,” the source explained. “Gabe Gross and Jake Fox look like Babe Ruth every March, and what do they do when the real season begins? And if you remember, the winner of last spring’s second base competition was Brad Emaus — and how did that turn out?”
Fair points. So how will the 25-man roster be chosen, pray tell?
“For the most part, we already know of 20-22 players who will definitely be on the roster come Opening Day,” he said, “and the other 3-5, well, we’re looking into both standard sabermetric statistics and proprietary formulas to come up with finalists. Then, we’ll invite those players to the Citi Field clubhouse lounge for a Wii tournament during the last weekend of March. Whoever remains standing at the end of the round-robin, gets a uniform.”
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.