Woohoo. It's that time again. ...
Time to swap the Polar Vortex for the outfield sundeck. Time to stop dodging falling icicles and start embracing rising stars. Time to quit reminiscing about John, Paul, George and Ringo, and start dreaming on Jose (Abreu), Masahiro (Tanaka), Xander (Bogaerts) and Taijuan (Walker).
In other words, it's time once again for all pitchers, catchers and frostbitten Northerners to begin stampeding immediately through those welcoming turnstiles at Joker Marchant Stadium, jetBlue Park and the ever-inviting Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where spring training's idyllic land of hope and dreams can't possibly begin too soon.
But what that also means is it's time for us to restore power to your world, by aiming every space-heating kilowatt in our arsenal at the spring storylines you're about to be locked in on for the next month and a half -- with the help of 23 all-knowing baseball executives who were kind enough to take part in our 2014 spring training preview survey.
Here we go, into the spring balminess zone:
1 Yanks A Million: Normally, when we ask the execs in our survey which teams or stories intrigue them, they name everything except their favorite spring concession stands. Not this year. It seemed as though everybody had a Yankees storyline that fascinated them. Such as: Is Masahiro Tanaka really worth 175 million bucks (counting the posting fee)? How much will Derek Jeter resemble that guy who used to play shortstop for the New York Yankees? Who plays second base? Who plays third base? Will Mark Teixeira ever be the same? What's the back of the rotation look like? What does the future hold for Carsten Charles Sabathia? And how much medication will Joe Girardi require when it really hits him there's no Mariano Rivera in his bullpen to wave for? Now doesn't that seem like a lot of questions about a team that just shelled out half a billion dollars in free-agent signings this winter? Yeah. We thought so, too.
2 Getting To Cano You: At least nobody has to ask who will be playing second base for the Seattle Mariners. There's a $240 million answer to that question named Robinson Cano. And now that fate, Jay Z and the smell of gourmet coffee grinds has led this man to Seattle, we can start contemplating the question that matters most: How much of a difference can Cano really make on a team with so many issues all over the rest of the diamond? At least he'll be joined in this camp by fellow newcomers Corey Hart, Logan Morrison, Fernando Rodney and, one of these days (possibly, probably, theoretically), Nelson Cruz -- but not by Jeter, Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Monument Park, the Empire State Building or the Apollo Theater. So it'll be interesting watching Cano assume the role of Leader of Men and Face of a Franchise for the first time in his life.