Spring Kings Sing Things, Bring Strings

Jose Contreras is ready, willing and able to mow down the opposition.

Dewayne Wise is apparently a secretly great ballplayer.

Greg Walker has determined it will be cold in Chicago this April.

And who knows, maybe Contreras will prove us all wrong by somehow maintaining power pitcher dominance by being older and smaller. And maybe the last 11 years of Wise’s career were all a fluke. And maybe Chicago has wacky weather. But what this really points to is the larger problem with Spring Training: at what point, really, can we take any of the news out of Arizona seriously? Not in terms of honesty or validity (I don’t doubt Greg Walker knows Chicago meteorology) but in terms of when any of the numerous so-and-so-is-poised-for-something-special news turns from fluff to true indicators of things to come?

Jim Thome’s been working out? That’s awesome. That’s irrelevant.

Mark Buehrle’s happy to be back? Of course he is. People sign contracts for a reason, you know.

Paul Konerko knows he had a down year? What a coincidence.

The thing is, with any Spring Training you – we, I – don’t but more importantly can’t really know anything. I can hear from any number of sources how well Gordon Beckham is doing against college kids and guys headed to Birmingham, but what does that really mean now? Or ever? Every analyst in the world can say how some player “looked good” in a split squad game but what makes that “good”? That they didn’t hurt themselves against a field of minor leaguers and trade bait? Are we really supposed to get excited about that?

We all want to see into the future. We all want reassurance the team improved and we need to know they won’t embarrass us. The thing is, this month of surging nobodies and fading somebodies in exhibitions is about as inaccurate a reflection of things to come as anything. It’s fun, and it’s at least some kind of baseball, but let’s just leave it at that. A good substitute. Nothing more.