illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Welcome, new cats! We are ready and waiting to shower you with love! All you have to do is play the game of baseball reasonably well and not get injured or arrested. I feel like this should not be too much to ask, but since so many cats of our recent past have had issues with these seemingly simple restrictions, let me lay it out for you, as a roadmap to our hearts. It’s all in the spirit of the holiday!
Victor Martinez: You have possibly the easiest task of the three, because we have been carefully training our expectations for the catcher’s position downwards for the last few seasons. We’re horribly used to saying things like, “Oh, any offensive production out of this spot is a bonus, we’re really just in it for the defense. That’s what’s important. The rest of the lineup should produce enough to make this lineup hole a non-factor!” Has it ever worked out like that? Not really. We kept saying it, though, because that is how we keep from crying.
Last year you batted .302 and OPS’d .844. We haven’t seen catcher production like that since Pudge… actually, we haven’t seen a catcher OPS like that since the 2004 version of Pudge. Just remember that Alex Avila is your little buddy and if you feel like bending over to pick something up might hurt your knees or back, make him do it for you. He has a young body and a beard of great health. Don’t be mean to the pitchers and don’t develop a taste for firing balls randomly into the outfield, and I think we will be great friends.
An additional suggestion: don’t go to any Phoenix Suns games. And if you absolutely MUST go to a Phoenix Suns game, don’t bring your grandpa.
Joaquin Benoit: I know that you’ve only ever called obscenely hot places or domes home, and Detroit is most definitely neither one of those things, but it will be OK. Invest in some handwarmers, and maybe a headsock or giant furry hat to wear in the bullpen. It seems impossible to imagine with all the snow on the ground right now, but soon enough it will be too hot for normal people again and we will all be complaining about it.
Perhaps you could form some sort of elaborate ritual with Papa Grande? This would help you become a full member of the bullpen community. Remember that you are setting up, not closing, so don’t feel like you have to put too much pressure on yourself and get injured. Keep your head down and your strikeouts up and maybe learn a few Australian slang words.
Your eyebrows are really something, and your goatee growth always seems robust. With Phil Coke out of the bullpen, you may have to pick up some of the slack in the tonsorial department. How do you feel about mohawks?
Brad Penny: I saw you in Boston, buddy. You can’t hide from me. I know what you’ve done and you are ON NOTICE in the American League. I know we have that big scary thing called THE DH over here, and I know we’re lacking in the soothing lineup presence of a pitcher’s bat. You’re just going to have to deal with it, and you’re going to have to deal with it in a way that does not make us think of Edgar Renteria. You probably don’t have as convincingly wibbly a sadface as Edgah did, but trust me. We will know.
That said… again, expectations are not high. We don’t need you to be Justin Verlander. We don’t even need you to be FredFred or Max Scherzer, and we don’t expect you to be; FredFred is like a fetus compared to you, with a correspondingly fetus-fresh arm, and you don’t have Scherzer’s magical eyes. We just need you to be better than the ghost of Nate Robertson (last seen heading east with a 5.00+ ERA) and more consistent than Dontrelle Willis. Quite frankly, this should not be difficult. Paws is more consistent on the mound than Dontrelle Willis and they don’t even let him pitch.
You do wear the high socks, and this is a positive. Don’t ever change that. We’re counting on it.
We are ready to love you, Brad Penny. We are all standing here, gazing at you hopefully with giant melty kitten eyes. When it comes to the back end of the rotation, things have been hard for us, and our little hearts have been much abused. Honestly, our number five guy right now is Phil Coke. We are scared. We want to give you our hearts. Please don’t stomp on them.
Now let the spring commence and the love blossom in the shining Lakeland sun! Which does not shine on me, but whatever. I can imagine it. With love.