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Five questions for the spring:

  1. Can Barry Zito throw strikes?

    Zito's biggest asset is that he can stay healthy, but that would mean a lot more if he could throw strikes.

  2. Can Noah Lowry throw strikes?

    Lowry used to throw strikes. Wha' happened?

  3. Can Brian Wilson throw strikes?

    He was given the closer's job based on a couple of dozen nice innings last season, but he's had command issues throughout the minor leagues.

  4. Can Jonathan Sanchez throw strikes?

    Sanchez is competing for the fifth-starter's role on the White Sox. He needs to throw strikes to be taken seriously.

  5. Can every other pitcher not named above throw strikes?
Those five dummy questions lead up to the only real question of the hour: When do we panic? Wait, the answer to that is "last November." Let me revise that. When, if ever, do we panic at poor spring performances? Because with three scoreless innings from Lowry in his next outing, his seven walks will be totally forgotten. Somewhere between "Bah, spring training don't matter none," and, "How did I get here? This is not my beautiful pitching staff! This is not my 20-games-under-.500 team!", lies a good time to start worrying about performances.

The McCovey Chronicles Theory of Spring Performances: It's never appropriate to worry about spring performances.

The Zito-Lowry Corollary to my answer: At some point, performances can be wretched enough to negate the McC ToSP. The key, though, is that "performances" is plural. One wretched spring start is little more than a curiosity at this point, but if they keep averaging five-to-fifteen walks per inning, it's perfectly okay to panic.

The Lincecum Clause: Spring training stats mean nothing unless they support your preconceived notions of optimism. Scoreless spring innings for Tim Lincecum are obviously a precursor to a Cy Young.

Comment starter: When is it okay to make a big deal out of spring stats or performances?