Congrats to our roomates here at I70 Baseball, the St Louis Cardinals on their 11th World Series Championship. The past sixty days has been an enjoyable finish to the baseball season. However, this means we have entered The Baseball Offseason. The Baseball Offseason is rough country. It’s dark and cold. Your GPS does not show the roads and trails in The Baseball Offseason, if it works at all. Your smart phone gets spotty reception in Baseball Off-Season. You can’t get AM/FM or satellite radio reception. Your MP3 Player can only play Justin Bieber. But worst of all…there is no baseball! At least none that’s readily available. The Baseball Offseason is not a good place to be.
The first thing you should do is not panic. Last year I curled up in the fetal position in the basement and sucked my thumb and mumbled something about pitchers and catchers reporting. I do not recommend that you do this; it didn’t work out very well. The key to surviving rough country is mentally preparing, and having the proper tools at your disposal. But do not fear I am here to help. This article will serve as your Swiss Army Knife for this baseball offseason. I’ll highlight dates that you should know about. I’ll show you ways to mine what little baseball there is. And most importantly show you signs that you’re nearing the end of our no- baseball-ordeal.
November spends a good amount of time wrapping up the 2011 baseball season. Postseason Awards will be announced by Major League Baseball and any other outlet that tenders an award. Here are those dates:
Nov 14th ) Jackie Robsinson Rookie of The Year Awards are announced for both leagues. As much as I want Eric Hosmer to win the AL ROY, don’t look for that to happen.
Nov 15th ) AL Cy Young Award is announced
Nov 16th ) AL & NL Manager Of The Year Awards are announced
Nov 17th ) NL Cy Young Award is announced
Nov 21st ) AL MVP Award announced
Nov 22nd ) NL MVP Award announced
Awards are nice for the individual players. As a fan, I don’t care too much about them. I root for the Royals. I’m more interested in which players are signed, and which players walk this off-season. That fun gets started in November too.
Nov 2nd ) Free Agency Begins. Between today and November 2nd players who are free agents can only negotiate with the team they were with for the 2011 season. After the 2nd it’s a free for all. This is where the fun will begin.
Nov 23rd ) Lifted from MLB’s website: Last date for former club to offer salary arbitration to ranked XX(B) free agents in order to be eligible for compensation. Deadline is midnight.
Bruce Chen falls into this category. If Chen signs, the Royals have him. If not the Royals will get a draft pick in the supplemental round of the draft in June…at least under the current CBA. Many other teams will be in the same boat. By letting free agents walk is how the Rays compiled their plethora of draft picks in last June’s draft.
Major League Baseball’s CBA will expire Dec 11th. I expect a new agreement will be announced in November. This should give us a few days of deliberating and discussing what the new agreement means for the Royals and MLB in general.
December isn’t a tough month for me in regards to baseball. It’s the Holiday Season. There is usually some social or family gathering to take up the spare time. Despite that two things baseball fans need to keep an eye on.
Winter Meetings ) This is the annual get together for anyone who has a stake in baseball. Owners, General Managers’s, league officials, players, agents, reporters, bloggers (I won’t be there, unless someone wants to pay my way), entertainers and other hangars-on will descend upon Dallas December 5th-8th. With all these characters in one place you can expect major trades, major free agent signings, and random announcements, all of which will have a major impact on the 2012 Season. You know what else happens here?
The Rule 5 Draft: Dec 8th ) I’m not sure what “Rule 5” is. However, I do know that the Royals have found some decent players like, Joakim Soria in the Rule 5 Draft. It’s essentially a draft where other teams get to pick a minor leaguer from another teams system. Don’t worry. Teams can protect a certain number of players. The catch is that a selected player has to stay on the 25-Man Roster for the entire season or he goes back to his original team. If you’re a Royals fan you might want to take some notice to what happens here. I have no idea if changes to this draft are being discussed in the new CBA.
You should fatten up during the Holiday Season, because we’re about enter the toughest stretch of The Baseball Offseason.
Jan 1st ) This day is important. This is the day the 2011 Season becomes “last” season, and the 2012 season becomes “this” season. You should also reflect on this day how awesome baseball is for having a playoff and a World Series instead of a bunch of random exhibition games between teams that are over .500 in neutral cities to determine a Champion.
After January 1st it gets tough. There will be the random announcement of a trade, or free agent signing, but nothing you can circle on a calendar and look forward to. Here are some things you can do to pass the winter.
1. Circle dates on calendars. It’s roughly six weeks until pitchers & catchers report
2. Whine about it being dark and cold
3. If you find a random nice day, get out the baseball equipment and play catch with someone. Or find a local batting cage and take some hacks.
4. Watch the MLB Network
5. If you have a subscription to MLB.tv, AtBat11 (or 12? I guess), or Gameday Audio you can go back into the 2011 archives. Pick a random game and watch or listen
6. Play your favorite MLB video game
7. Read I70 Baseball
8. Read sportsdrenched.com
9. Plan a baseball road trip with your friends.
10. Watch basketball and hockey
11. Whine about there being no baseball to your Twitter followers. If you have a live-in companion I would suggest this over whining to them.
13. I would say attend Royals FanFest or Caravan. But I’ve heard rumors of their demise. Look for those if you’re interested
To me, turning the corner into February is the beginning of the end of The Baseball Offseason. There is a little more daylight, there are some warmer days. Pitchers & Catchers will report during the middle of the month. We even see the emergence of live baseball. February 17th, 2012 is Division I College Baseball common start day. It’s not the majors, but it’s decent entertaining baseball. That’s kind of a big deal here in Wichita. And then….
Spring Training ) All camps open for all players the last week of February. The Exhibition schedule starts March 2nd in the Cactus League with Oakland vs Seattle. Grapefruit League opens up with four games on March 3rd. Once the exhibition season starts the offseason is over. There will be some sort of baseball to watch, listen, or check up on from here until next November. Congratulations! We’ve made it through The Baseball Offseason.
But that’s still a long, long way off. When you feel Baseball Offseason Affective Disorder (Maybe that should be a twitter hash tag: #boad?) creeping in, bookmark this page and refer to it as much as you need to get through The Baseball Offseason. Together we’ll get through this.