1) Rob at Amazin' Avenue wonders if Mets fans should be optimistic about Luis Castillo this season. His conclusion: yes. Castillo stunk in 2008, but he's been a valuable player throughout most of his career. I think it's feasible that he'll hit at a .275/.360/.350 clip. If he does, while playing serviceable defense, I'll be thrilled.
2) The Mets signed Jose Valentin to a minor league deal. Yes, the same Jose Valentin who hit 17 homers and was a nice surprise for the 2006 Mets. I have no problem with this signing, but it would be surprising to see him on the Opening Day roster. If Valentin logs a significant amount of plate appearances this season, the Mets might be in trouble.
3) I'm as sick of discussions about PED's as the next fan, but I really liked this from Tom Tango's blog (see response from Tango in the comments):
"The White American Male Adult (WAMA) thinks nothing of a rock star that is fueled by drugs. Indeed, even if the artist himself says that the drug improves his artistic qualities, this is seen as a good thing. You can take all the vices in the world, pump it into the body of a rock star, and if Sgt Pepper is the result, then the world will be at your feet."
A commenter countered by saying that this was a fallacy, i.e. rock stars are not competing against each other like pro athletes. Tango responded with this:
"The rock star / athlete is not a fallacy. Both are 'competing' against their peers. Rock stars are not subjected to daily competition, but they accumulate wealth in the same way as athletes: by performing better than their peers."
For whatever reason I was fascinated by this point. I've come full circle on this PED stuff. At first, I was like most fans - demonizing the players, hating Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, etc. However, I really don't hate any of the pre-2004 juicers (punishments for failing steroid tests were only instituted in 2004). Anyone who gets caught now, well that's a different story. I have no sympathy. That is why Bonds, Roger Clemens (although Clemens still sucks at life) and Alex Rodriguez are still Hall of Fame worthy in my book, while Rafael Palmeiro is not.
4) Here is video of a 22 year-old Ichiro pitching in the 1996 NPB All-Star Game (via Neyer). He was throwing 90+ mph back then and apparently he's still got it. He may even pitch in the upcoming WBC: