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damn, but there are some 2bmen scuffling out there this spring. our own junior spivey, yes - but how about the chisox's tadahito iguchi (.136)? atlanta starter marcus giles is at .130, and his understudy, pete orr, is batting .152. the pads' mark bellhorn is hitting .190. and of course there's tony graffanino, whose .189 spring with the red sox got him waived (kansas city picked him up).

none of which eases my concerns about spivey, who in addition to his questionable shoulder and wrist now appears to have a case of shot confidence. perhaps yesterday's awful game represents rock bottom for him; no real reason to think so, but let's just hope -- both for his sake, and the cards'.

some day soon, the sabermetricians are going to tease out what's meaningful in spring-training stats from what's just random. for instance, i've been paying attention to spivey's strikeout rate since the 2d week in camp on the assumption that it, more than batting average, would provide an accurate read on his physical status and ball-striking powers. but is there any merit to that premise? that is, do high spring-training k rates correlate, empirically, with bad regular season production? heck if i know. the spring-training stats are being kept much more carefully now; sooner or later somebody (not me, man) is going to dive into that pool of data.

until then we're just making guesses about whether a particularly good / bad spring actually means anything. a 5-minute survey of the nl central yielded any number of performances that one could construe as portentous. a few for instances: cub closer ryan dempster, whose major weakness is a high walk rate, has issued 7 free passes in 8.2 innings this spring. random -- or an omen of season-long control problems? brewer closer derrick turnbow has a similar problem, 8 walks in 9 innings and an 11.05 era.

how about cub starter jerome williams, who has a spring walk-strikeout ratio of 9 to 2 to go along with an 8.00 era? judging from that, i'd guess he might hit the DL before june 1. but that's nothing compared with brandon backe, who has coughed up 10 walks and 11 homers in 23 spring innings.

here's a positive indicator: prince fielder has only whiffed 7 times in 46 exhibition at-bats while batting .304, which suggests that the holes in his swing aren't so large that they'll ruin his rookie season with the brewers. and brewer shortstop jj hardy is slugging .674, which might make you think his 2d-half surge last year was no fluke.

one last snapshot; i wonder how astro fans are feeling about their new power hitter, spivey's former d.c. teammate preston wilson? he has whiffed 18 times in 40 at-bats this spring. at least the guy's been getting on base (.392 obp) and displaying his usual extra-base pop. random and meaningless or the start of a trend?

we'll find out soon enough.