Here’s a classic spring training story from today’s Enquirer. It’s by Paul Daugherty, and the subject is Ryan Freel, but it’s a perfect example of what writers are forced to write during the spring. There are no real stories out there, so we get this:
He has 10 baseball gloves, which he removes from a duffel bag as if he’s selling Avon door to door. “This one’s a Ruben Mateo,” says Ryan Freel. Admire the fine black leather, the intricate weave of the laces from finger to finger …
“Here’s a Brandon Larson third baseman’s model,” says Freel. You have to believe it could be dangerous on the wrong hand. Like Larson’s, for example.
Freel pulls a few more mitts from his bag, until he gets to an honest-to-God Ryan Freel second baseman’s glove. Freel’s pretty proud of that one. “My own glove,” he says. “That’s big-time.”
What happens when you’re so good at being versatile, those in charge decide that versatile is all you can be? Jack of 10 gloves, master of none.
Okay, so the article isn’t a hard-hitting piece, but I guess it’s somewhat interesting. Sorta like Freel: he’s not hard-hitting, but he’s an interesting character to have around your team.
Freel’s numbers last year were much better than I expected. I don’t count on him to repeat that performance this season (or ever again), but if he can keep his OBP in the same region, he can be a valuable part. Frankly, I’d rather have him at third base than Joe Randa.