Some call "Pitchers & Catchers" glorified jogging and stretching. Others say it serves the same symbolic purpose as Groundhog Day. On Beerleaguer, it's time to see who got fat and draw shallow conclusions.
Every season since I've been doing this, there's been at least one spring training debate over size and fitness. In fact, entire careers in Philadelphia - including that of Jon Lieber - have been defined by weight, not just here, but on radio and in other outlets. You'll never find a less scientific study, because the results have been all over the map. Take Ryan Howard, for example, who came to camp packing extra pounds in 2007. His spare tire was partially blamed for his ensuing slow start and Howard would soon find himself on the disabled list. His weight may or may not have adversely effected the injury, but then how does one explain Howard's slow start in 2008, when he arrived in excellent shape? Then there's Brett Myers, who arrived in camp two years ago, fresh off an offseason contract extension, at a reduced weight we haven't seen since his rookie year. He felt great and had a very encouraging spring, but it was quickly derailed by a couple of regular season flops and he was soon yanked from the rotation and inserted into the bullpen, where he would capably become the team's closer. All the while, he packed on the pounds again, leading some to believe that the extra weight added to his ferocity on the mound, or some such conclusion. Last season, Myers was pretty big. To my eyes, he was slightly bigger at the beginning of the season and during his minor league demotion than at the end of the season, when he posted some of the best second-half numbers in baseball. But it's hard to say with much certainty because he hides it in an oversized uniform. So what's the right weight for Myers? Medium, I suppose.