Some notes as we hurtle toward Opening Day:
-P- As you probably saw, the Cardinals beat the Cubs in the first real game of the season, 3-0. Jon Lester struggled and no one at Wrigley could go to the bathroom, so #LOLCubs if you must, but as a Pirates fan, the only really good outcome here would have been if aliens descended onto the infield and lured everyone in both clubhouses into their spaceship.
-P- The Padres acquired Craig Kimbrel and Melvin / B.J. Upton for Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Matt Wisler, outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck and a draft pick. The Padres have acquired so many big-name veterans now that it's impossible to completely dismiss them as a team, but the whole enterprise still feels like a really random video-game approach to building a roster. Kimbrel is a great reliever, but the Padres didn't need relievers any more than they needed all of the 54 corner outfielders they acquired this winter. One wonders how much better Kimbrel can make them, given that they're optioning a guy as good as Kevin Quackenbush to make room for him and that they still have What on second and I Don't Care at shortstop. Then there's the fact that they added $56 million and gave up actual prospects to make this happen. Meanwhile, the trade was a smart, purposeful one for the Braves, who cleared a ton of salary and got a very interesting young pitcher in Wisler.
Incidentally, the trade also could make old friend Jason Grilli the Braves' closer.
-P- The Phillies have outrighted Andy Oliver, who they had selected from the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft. Oliver is now a free agent. Since the Pirates outrighted Oliver in 2014, he had the right to declare free agency if outrighted again. He was also out of options, so even if the Pirates had gotten him back somehow they would have had no way to send him to the minors. I'm not quite sure which ultra-technical roster mechanism resulted in Oliver becoming a free agent, but given Oliver's Rule 5 status, his history of having been outrighted before and his out-of-options status, it should have been clear that there was no way he was coming back to the Pirates. In any case, it doesn't matter much. Oliver continues to struggle with his control and is a long shot to ever be a productive big-leaguer.