Went to Peoria with a Padres fan friend of mine the past couple days. Saw the Dodgers lose to the pads 11-9 Tuesday. A few observations:
Ross Stripling looked great for a couple innings. Second time through, though, ouch. He got into a pattern where he never threw the same pitch twice. We were sitting right behind home plate, and he indeed had his curve/slider working very well. But if he started off a hitter with it, he got into a habit of coming next pitch fastball. And vice-versa. So the hitters started spitting on the first pitch, and guessing (correctly with the next pitch), and hammering him. Otherwise, Stripling has great control and great mechanics. He appear very healthy, and I believe if the Dodgers let him get his feet wet, and if AJ/Grandal don't let him get into habits, he'll do fine as a #5.
Yasiel Puig looks LOST at the plate. Impatient. Guessing. Guessing wrong (and I mean frightfully wrong... you could hear several guys in the entire section I was sitting in rumbling about "here comes the fastball" in one of his at-bats... everybody knew it was coming but Puig. He just watched it go by, then blamed them ump for calling it a strike). Flailing. Complaining. The body language is as bad as it's ever been. And I hate to point this out, but as you know, in ST, it's typical for a group of players to be pulled from a game at a given time - like the 6th inning or so. On Tuesday, JT, AGon, AJ, Kike, and Puig were all replaced in the field. The first four went walking behind home plate together, side-by-side talking among one another, playfully pointing into the Pads dugout at Kemp and others as they headed toward the player's exit beyond the RF bullpen. Puig lagged 20 steps behind, by himself. I also had a good view of the dugout throughout the game, and he was never found talking with anyone - always on his own. I'd like to think these are just anomalies, but after reading Knight's book, hearing more rumors since the book came out, and then seeing it for myself Tuesday, I'm not confident in Puig as a player or as a teammate nearly as much as I used to be.
Big Red is LOCKED IN like few I've ever seen. He's incredibly confident at the plate, and his timing has come down to an art form. Pitchers genuinely see it, too, and they seem confounded as to how to get the ball past him. He worked the count beautifully in his 2nd AB Tuesday, and just waited on a pitch. He got it, and smoked it 420 feet. He's fun to watch right now.
AGon is a very smart hitter. You knew that. But watching his approach up close was fun. And when they shift on him, he's hitting it where they ain't. At least he is in ST. Let's see how that translates into the regular season, but he's certainly trying to send a message.
Carl Crawford looks old. And either he doesn't care about spring training, or he's just not thinking at the plate. He's not flailing wildly like Puig, but that's only because he doesn't swing as hard. He's lost, and I have no confidence that he's gonna suddenly start hitting.
Bob Geren is wearing #8, and he walks like (and is built similarly to) Donny Baseball. It was freaking me out.