We’ve already discussed the importance of this week’s owners meetings, particularly pertaining to the future of the Astros. Here are a few more important dates we should mark down on our calendars.
November 23 is the last day that teams can offer arbitration to a player without losing their right to compensation should that player elect to become a Free Agent. December 7 will be the last day for players to accept or decline arbitration offers. Unless he signs elsewhere sooner, that will ultimately be the day we learn whether or not Clint Barmes will be staying in Houston.
The Winter Meetings are scheduled for December 5th through December 8th, and will be held at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas Texas. So start making your plans now if you intend on staging your own “Occupy Wall Street” type of demonstration to complain about the Astros being moved to the American League. The owners and the MLB Players Association will probably still be busy trying to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires on December 11th. The Winter Meetings culminate with the Rule 5 Draft on December 8.
Arbitration filings must be made between January 5th and January 15th. The 2012 Hall of Fame Class will be announced on January 9th. Jeff Bagwell gets his second chance to be the first player to wear an Astros uniform into the Hall. Bagwell was named on 41% of the ballots in 2011, his first year of eligibility. Players must be named on 75% of the ballots for enshrinement. Personally, I would like to see Bagwell inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. That is when Craig Biggio becomes eligible. Biggio is, in my opinion, a first ballot inductee. It would be fitting to see Bagwell and Biggio go into the Hall together.
Arbitration hearings will take place over the first three weeks of February. Pitchers, catchers and injured players can begin reporting to camp as early as February 19th. Position players may report as early as February 24th and March 2nd is the mandatory reporting date for most teams.
The Astros are slated to play their first Spring Training game on March 3 against the Nationals. From March 2nd through March 11th teams may renew the contracts of any remaining unsigned players.
The Mariners and Athletics will open the regular season with a two game series in Tokyo Japan on March 28th and 29th. I don’t know why MLB likes to do this every couple of years, but I will still probably get up at 3:oo A.M. to watch the games. The Miami Marlins will be the first team to play a home game when they open their new ballpark on April 4th against the World Series Champion Cardinals. The Astros open the season at home on Friday April 6th against the Rockies.