Baseball Notes: Reds Rookie, Don't Kill Me Crew! & DFTU

(ed. note - Originally written 4 April, 2008)

Hello all...

Welcome to my "This Week in Baseball Notes" column. I'm going to try and make this as regular a bit as I can. We'll see. Baseball season is a long affair.

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First off, what really inspired me to write today was the performance of a rookie pitcher yesterday afternoon. I doubt many of you caught the Diamondbacks/Reds tilt (*see sidebar), but maybe you saw the highlights on SportsCenter.

*The* highlight of the game was the Major League debut of Johnny Cueto (KWAY-toh). The kid's 5-10, 190 pounds soaking wet, but his fastball hit 95 on a regular basis with his change-up and slider clocking in the mid-80s. Sound like a familiar combination of pitches? (See Santana, Johan)

It was something to watch. His control was solid and even when he was wild, he was effectively wild. Now I'm not going to claim that the D-backs are an offensive force by any stretch, but they had no shot against him. Justin Upton got the 1 meaty fastball that Cueto threw all afternoon and managed to yank it to Left for a home run. But other than that, Cueto was as dominant as you can be.

Keep an eye out for him, especially you Brewer fans! He could be something special.

(*Sidebar*: If those of you with cable/satellite haven't noticed, the MLB Extra Innings package has been in "free preview" mode this week. And just like any good addictive substance, the taste has been enough to nearly get me hooked. I'm thiiiiiiiiiiissss close to dropping the $160 on the full-season package. I'm imagining checking the pitching probables on a day-in, day-out basis and being able to check out nearly any game I want! Oh my. Oh, and by the way, if any of you would care to donate to the "Give Dan the Baseball Coverage He so Richly Deserves Fund", email me and I'll send you my home address so you can mail a check. Really, any amount will do!)

Speaking of Brewer fans, I'm getting killed over my NL Central picks. So let me just say this... I hope I was wrong. I hope that Ben Sheets stays healthy all year and this Gallardo kid I hear about is the next coming of Walter Johnson. I hope that Gagne finds some of the good HGH and regains his dominant form. I hope they kill the Cubs.

I just don't think it's going to happen. Sorry folks, but that's my opinion. We'll see how it goes. So far, so good for the Crew. They're 2-1, with all 3 games against the Cubs. Good luck Crew fans!

And how about your Washington Nationals?! 3-1 and on top of the NL East. Not a bad way to start the years.

Speaking of surprising starts, did anybody see the Kansas City Royals getting out of the gate with three straight wins over the Detroit Tigers *in* Detroit? Go ahead, raise your hands if you did... oh wait, the straight-jacket is probably stopping you. Never mind. That's right fans, the only undefeated team in the bigs? Your Kansas City Royals!

Who said baseball is predictable?

And now it's time for what *will* be everybody's favorite segment: The "Dan's Favorite Teams" update!

Minnesota Twins: The boys in blue started out 1-3 against the Los Angeles Angels. Livan Hernandez was his serviceable self on Opening Night and got the Twins their only win of the series. They were at least competitive on Thursday, and the Angels are an above-average club, so no panicking yet Twins fans! Kevin Slowey left Thursday's game with a strained biceps muscle to be re-evaluated later today. Doesn't sound like that's going to get Liriano up here any faster though. So an already thin pitching staff just got a little thinner. Up next? The Kansas City Royals. Fresh off a sweep of the Tigers... oof.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Snakes opened up with a 3-game set in Cincinnati. After a solid opener from Brandon Webb (who's #17 I'm wearing as I write this), the 'Backs lost the 2nd game on a walk-off Home Run and ran into the Cueto Machine in the rubber game. #3 starter Doug Davis has been diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I know from familial experience that this is a VERY treatable form of Cancer and it's entirely possible that Davis will return to pitch this season. He's even making his first 2 starts of the year to try and help bridge the gap until Randy Johnson is ready to go. Good luck Doug! Up Next? The Colorado Rockies. A rematch of last years NLCS. Should be fun to watch.

That's it for today. Hope to be back at you next week. As always, your responses are welcome and encouraged. Take care!

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