Links: Pineda's fastball, Willis released

  • One of the big stories of spring training -- or perhaps most overblown -- has been the velocity of Michael Pineda's fastball. Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com has the report on Pineda's Thursday start, in which his fastball clocked 90-92 mph but his changeup looked impressive.

  • The Phillies released Dontrelle Willis, who struggled in three spring appearances (five runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings with four walks and no strikeouts). I'm a little surprised the Phillies pulled the plugged so early, as Willis seemed liked a good gamble to fill the LOOGY role out of the bullpen after holding lefties to a .127 average last season with the Reds. Willis had a sore arm and certainly didn't pitch well but he's still only 30 years old. He'll surface somewhere.

  • Our own Christina Kahrl has an excerpt from the new Baseball Prospectus book "Extra Innings" up at the BP site. Christina looks at the effects of the increase in strikeouts. The book is due out in early April and you can pre-order it from Amazon.

  • The Royals signed defensive whiz Alcides Escobar to a long-term extension. Craig Brown of Royals Authority weighs in. Even if Escobar doesn't improve with that bat, his value in the field should turn this into a good contract for the Royals.

  • Logan Morrison had his knee scoped in December and it's still giving him trouble. He's made one spring training appearance but is now back on the bench. The Marlins need a big year from Morrison so this could be the little spring training injury story that actually means something if the knee doesn't improve. It doesn't help that Giancarlo Stanton may be out another week with his own knee inflammation.

  • Speaking of injuries, Chien-Ming Wang tweaked a hamstring and may be out a couple weeks. This is why you don't trade John Lannan. Every team needs six or seven starters. Speaking of which, ESPN Insider Eno Sarris has a piece on which contenders have the most and least starting pitching depth.

  • Who should start at shortstop for the Red Sox? Chip Buck examines the issue. Is there a right answer? (I'm with Chip: I think you go with Mike Aviles, even if Nick Punto and especially Jose Iglesias are the superior glove men.)

  • Jon Shepherd is running a series of posts at Camden Depot examining the value of each "slot" in starting rotations, division by division. In other words, what is the caliber of a No. 3 starter or No. 4 starter and so on. Here he examines the NL East.

  • This is from the other day, but Joey Matschulat of Baseball Time in Arlington wrote of the Yu Darvish debacle in his second spring training start.

  • Speaking of the Rangers, ESPNDallas.com's Jean-Jacques Taylor profiles Ian Kinsler -- the man who ignites the Texas offense.