masahiro tanakaMany pundits will soon be releasing their “MLB Preview” in weeks to come. It will be chock full of things to expect, look forward to, and lament. And, while I am no pundit and merely a dude with a computer, I, too, decided to release my own preview of sorts … before everyone else. I’m competitive like that. But instead of giving you insightful things to think about and ponder, I instead am going to be incredibly more selfish and tell you about the things that have me excited for baseball in 2014.

  • Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka: Abreu got six years and $68 million (with a $10 million signing bonus) from the White Sox. Tanaka got seven years and $155 million from the Yankees. While not the same in terms of dollars and cents, one has to think, does it make sense to offer all those dollars for either player? (See what I did there?) Bad puns aside, this is not a new question and sometimes overplayed. It is, however, a question that is still intriguing in any sport: does the the potential value of a rookie’s skill (drafted or not) still warrant a high-level contract? While both Tanaka and Abreu seem to have proven themselves in their respective leagues, the level of play in the MLB is significantly higher than anything either of them have faced. It seems to me that the emergence of Yasiel Puig played a large role in this type of money. And, not to mix sports here, we have to remember for every Puig, there could be 10 other JaMarcus Russells. But I am optimistic for both Abreu and Tanaka. They’ll no doubt have pressure, but I’m looking forward to seeing how each guy steps up to the plate (Ohhhh, the puns!).
  • Cubs Prospects: Fans that read this blog and follow the Cubs system closely know the names and know the stats. However, slowly but surely, more and more articles praising the young bucks in the Cubs system are surfacing from people who follow more than just the North Side. It feels like the Stark family motto in Game of Thrones: “Winter is coming…” (NERD ALERT). But instead of the awful impending freezing temps that the Starks reference, we have amazing young baseball players. It’s a “winter” filled with windows breaking due to home-runs, Arizona League MVP’s, and cracking top 100 lists. While I’m not holding my breath for 21-year-old saviors making their way into the big leagues, I am however excited to see if they are given a chance this year at the big league level. Some may. Some may not. But if even one is, it should make for some exciting baseball regardless of the standings.
  • Bobbleheads: That’s pretty much it. I don’t know what it is, but I love a free bobble head that’s given away at sporting events. Thanks to Brett’s article about freebies at Wrigley, I’ve got those dates locked into the calendar.
  • Derek Jeter, the AL, and Wrigley: I am one that enjoys interleague play, especially when it’s held at Wrigley Field. This year, I’ll be going to three NL-AL series at Wrigley (Yankees, Rays, and Orioles).  There’s something truly special about hearing players’ reactions who have never played at Wrigley or don’t come very often. Sure, not everyone likes it, but for the most part players recognize the history that surrounds Wrigley and the atmosphere that comes with it. There’s an added bonus this year with it being Jeter’s last season. I really have never known another Yankee shortstop. He came into the league when I was 8 and quickly grew into becoming my favorite baseball player as a kid, even as a young Cubs fan. I’ve never seen him play live, and it’ll be a real treat to see his farewell tour. I just hope he’s not injured when they roll into Chicago. Then I guess I’ll just have to watch Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Soriano and Ellsbury.
  • Opening Day: Opening day is amazing. If you’ve never been, I would highly suggest doing so. I love it. It’s my Christmas. You get to drink Bloody Mary’s early in the morning, catch a glimpse at Cubs greats around Wrigleyville, and usually sit in the freezing cold and rain with other fans in the bleachers. It’s great. And it’s become somewhat of a tradition to go and tough out whatever weather is thrown at us. It makes me tougher … or something.

What are you looking forward to this season? Serious or not, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to drop me a tweet or shoot down to the comments. Only 33 days until opening day.

  • ssckelley

    I still pine for Abreu, that contract the Sox gave him could very well turn out to be a steal.

    • Norm

      I think Rizzo has a better year than Abreu.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        The two are not mutually exclusive. I hope Abreu surprises to the upside.

        • bbmoney

          They’re fairly close to mutually exclusive in the NL. Unless you want an expensive pinch hitter on the roster.

          Again, frustration with the AL having a built-in roster construction advantage.

        • Norm

          They are mutually exclusive. Abreu is a 1B/DH. Rizzo is a 1B.
          You can’t just throw either of them in LF and assume it will work.

        • Blackhawks1963

          Abreu is strictly a 1st baseman / DH type. Rizzo is an outstanding defensive 1st baseman. This point is lost on some people as to why the Cubs had no interest in Abreu.

  • nate1m

    I’m interested in seeing how the Mariners pan out. They spent a ton of money. Does it get them into contention in a tough division? They gotta be better, right?

  • miggy80

    Watching the prospects starting to stream through Des Moines this year should be pretty fun to watch.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, I am already planning on making a few trips to Des Moines this summer to catch a few games. It is good to finally see the AAA team actually have a few legitimate prospects and not just being used as a shuttle service for AAAA players. I also plan on taking in a few CR Kernel games when Kane County comes to town as they should be fun to watch as well. I think the minors at all levels will be competitive this season.

      • miggy80

        I keep forgetting that Kane County visits CR. I need to make that trip sometime. It would be cool if we had a BN day at Sec Taylor.

  • FortyFour

    I hope that Jeter is healthy when the Yankees come to Wrigley in May. He missed the last series at Wrigley Field and it would be nice to see his last time around. It was great seeing Chipper Jones’ last game at Wrigley Field nearly two years ago.

  • brainiac

    love the prospects, and i’m pretty sure they’ll come up and make some waves. we should be winning the division within 2 years just based upon our farm system.

  • Darth Ivy

    I’m excited to watch more Sox games than ever before to see Abreu. He might be really, really good. Of course there’s Baez. His call up is probably the most exciting thing since, maybe, epstein getting hired? Ricketts buying the team? Last playoff series? The fall of the berlin wall?

  • MightyBear

    I do love opening day. I’ve only been to Wrigley twice live but it was great.

    • Myles P

      Buy a bleacher ticket and get there.

  • Katie

    I’ll be there Opening Day!

    • MightyBear

      Good for you Katie Kat Cub. I hope the weather’s good for you.

    • Myles P

      Make sure to say hi. I’ll flashing some pretty hip BN apparel.

  • JesusPotter

    My brother and I are going to see Iowa play the Memphis Redbirds at the first of April. I’ve been working with my 4-year-old daughter to say “Mr. Baez, may I have your autograph?” I’m so stoked about these kids coming up. We’re planning another trip to Knoxville to try and catch Bryant and hopefully Almora.

  • Cheese Chad

    I’m looking forward to going to a game. Went to opening day 3 years in a row starting the year Hee Sop Choi came to town. Haven’t been to a game since. Any Ames, Iowans looking for a road trip ?

  • Critterbeard

    I’ve already requested the afternoon off from work! Too bad I won’t have time to hoof it to Pittsburgh.