Fall fades into winter, and winter into spring, but one thing remains constant in baseball, whether it's the regular season, the postseason, the offseason or spring training: Baseball people are going to say things publicly that they don't necessarily believe, or that they only half-believe. They will use their public stage for ulterior motives -- to advance their own business interests, or achieve some other goal. They will engage in the art of posturing.
We are seeing plenty of posturing lately, as spring training camps open across Florida and Arizona. And here, as a public service, we are offering up our handy Posturing Translator to guide you as you try to separate what's said from what's meant.
*Albert Pujols's self-imposed deadline:
What they said: Wednesday at noon is the deadline for the Cardinals to get Albert Pujols signed to a new contract, after which point the superstar will cut off talks until after the season.
What they meant: "I need to place this firm deadline on the contract talks so as not to be a distraction to my teammates during the season. But of course, if the Cardinals come to me with an offer for 10 years and $300 million -- whether it's in March, July or October -- I'm not going to kick them out of my locker stall."
*CC Sabathia's "out" clause:
What they said: "Anything is possible in a contract, but I'm not thinking about anything past Opening Day."
What they meant: "I very well may exercise my opt-out clause, which was negotiated into my contract with the New York Yankees and gives me the option of becoming a free agent following this season. But I'm certainly not going to say so now, so that you vultures in the New York media can skewer me every day from now until the end of October. I'm 30 years old, I'm at the height of my powers, and I would almost certainly command more in free agency than the $92 million I would earn from the Yankees from 2012 to 2015. Actually, what I'm probably going to do, in the end, is use the threat of the opt-out to negotiate a longer, more lucrative extension with the Yankees, much as Alex Rodriguez did in 2007."
*Bruce Bochy's "team to beat"
What they said: "i think everybody in the National League would tell you the road to the World Series has to go through Philadelphia, with the quality of their staff."
What they meant: "I'm the manager of the defending World Series champions, but I'm not above a little gamesmanship. I don't mind my players believing that everyone in the world sees us as underdogs. We rode that train all the way to the title a year ago. I also don't mind placing a little more pressure on the Phillies, because the pressure of win-it-all-or-else expectations can be suffocating in this game."