Wednesday

Baseball Notes: D'back Debut, Cameron Arrives & Peek at the Picks

Hello again everybody...

It's back to baseball today. Last night we had a historic Major League Debut I'll tell you about. Then I'll talk about Mike Cameron returning from suspension to make his fist start for the Brewers. Lastly, I'll take a look at my picks versus the current Major League Standings.

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Onward...

Last night was the Major League Debut for Diamondbacks rookie Max Scherzer. Scherzer has been a highly touted prospect in the Arizona system for a while and has been projected as a top-level starting pitcher. In fact, his promotion to the Bigs wasn't planned for this early in the season. But he was pitching SO well at Triple-A Tuscon that the club was nearly forced to bring him up and at least have him in their bullpen.

So last night, starter Edgar Gonzalez got knocked out of the game after only 2 2/3 innings giving Manager Bob Melvin the opportunity to give Scherzer his first opportunity to pitch, and boy did he ever. Here's his line:

Max Scherzer 4.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA

To translate, 4 1/3 innings equals 13 batters. He struck out over half of them. And not a one of them reached base. That's the longest a pitcher making his Major League debut has gone without surrendering a baserunner since I believe 1956. Quite impressive.

Now the speculation will begin. How long does Melvin leave Scherzer in the bullpen. Gonzalez has been far from lights-out early in the year and there's going to be those among Snake Nation that are going to be calling for Gonzalez and Scherzer's roles to be reversed.

Here's the trick. As impressive as Scherzer was in his debut, remember that the advance scouts were only getting their first look at him. It's often said in Baseball that you're not really competing against the other team as much as you're competing against their scouts. No player is perfect when they reach the majors. They have patterns and weaknesses that scouts will pick up on and work with their respective clubs to take advantage.

Remember the hot start P Johnny Cueto got off to for the Reds. Until the scouts figured out some of his patterns and teams started hitting him. Remember the energetic start from OF Carlos Gomez for the Twins. Until scouts found the cannonball-sized holes in his swing and he started striking out every other at-bat (and sometimes more often than that).

The point is ballplayers have to constantly be making adjustments. Countering what opposing teams are trying to do to them. And that's especially difficult for a kid who's just trying to get used all the craziness associated with being in the Big Leagues in the first place. So Melvin may best served by letting Scherzer pitch a few more times out of the pen to get used to Big League life before moving him into the rotation.

(Ed.'s Note: As I watched the Diamondback game I taped earlier Wednesday, it was announced that Max Scherzer will be making his first Major League start Monday against the Phillies. So much for being patient with the kid! Looks like my reverse-prognostication skills come to the fore once again!)

Next up, Mike Cameron finally made his first start for the Milwaukee Brewers last night. And quite the start it was. Cameron went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored, hitting out of the 2-hole. Here's what I wrote about Cameron in my Season Preview:

Milwaukee's biggest loss in the off-season was Geoff Jenkins. That's a lot of offense to lose, but they also lost a huge number of strikeouts, so maybe it's almost a wash. Replacing him in the lineup and taking over center field is Mike Cameron. I'll give you a moment to digest that. Mike Cameron. Oof. This is, of course, assuming he's healthy enough to play most of the season. The plus of this move is that it allows Bill Hall to return to 3rd base where he's better suited.

It's only one game, but so far Cameron's clearly exceeding my expectations. But don't get too excited just yet Brewer fans. Let's see how long he holds up. Remember this is a 35-year-old outfielder coming off a 25-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. I don't know what the guy was on, but if it was a form of steroid, then there are all sorts of questions in my mind as to how long he'll be able to hold up physically.

Oh and did I mention you STILL haven't cut Eric Gagne yet?! You're still off my list Brewer fans... you're still off my list!

Finally, it's time for my weekly look at my Pre-Season Picks versus the current Major League Standings.

NL East: Florida Marlins (Dan's Pick: NY Mets, 1/2 Game Back)
How about those scrappy Marlins?! They're pitching far over their heads and their defense has been above average. And when you combine those two traits in any team, they're going to have a chance to win some games. But the Mets and Phillies are hot on their heels and I have to think it's just a matter of time til the Marlins are overtaken.

NL Central: Chicago Cubs/St. Louis Cardinals (DP: Cubs)
The Cardinals are easily the surprise of the division so far. It looks like this one could be a dog-fight all year long. Sorry Brewer Fans, I know you're only a game back, but until you dump that dead weight from your bullpen, you're still a small pup trying to run in the tall grass!

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks (DP: D'backs)
This one might be over by the All-Star break. The Snakes have the best record in Baseball and everybody else in the division is .500 or worse. Arizona shows no signs of letting up any time soon. And unless LA manages to catch fire, I'm not seeing much that would scare them.

AL East: Boston Red Sox/Baltimore Orioles (DP: Red Sox)
Remember what I said about pitching and defense as relates to the Marlins? Ditto for the Orioles. I thought trading away their best pitcher would make their staff worse, but so far, they're hanging tough. But in that murderous division, I'm not sure they can keep it up for long. Oh, and "God I hate the Red Sox"!

AL Central: Chicago White Sox (DP: Detroit Tigers, 3 GB)
Only 3 games? Doesn't it feel like the Tigers should be at least 6 games out? But they're not. Part of that is the fact that the teams in the Central are tightly bunched in terms of talent. And part of that is that nobody else is really that good. I don't think the Tigers are out of this by any means. But they need to get their pitching untracked in a hurry.

AL West: LA Angels/Oakland A's (DP: Seattle Mariners, 3 1/2 GB)
This may be the only pick where I think I might be already cooked. I've said it before, I wanted to pick the Angels to start, but their pitching injuries scared me off. But what was left of their staff has picked up more than their share of slack and the Angels have barely skipped a beat. The A's? Not going to last. Nice start boys. See you near the bottom of the division by July.

That's all for today folks. Back at you tomorrow with the official Derby Posts and final picks for the race on Saturday. Then Friday I'll have more Baseball goodness and another installment of the DFTU!

3 comments:

  1. Zero comments make Dan a sad panda. Or something.

    Anyhow, I firmly believe that if you'd picked the Red Sox to finish first in the division without saying anything about your hatred for them, half the team would be injured by now, and they'd be competing for the bottom. That full disclosure thing is wrecking your mojo.

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  2. Ned Yost is on a short leash this year - if the Brewers are not at least 5 or 6 games over 500 by mid-June, he'll get whacked. He's used up all of his nine lives the past three years and if the bullpen implodes, like it's apt to do, we're in trouble - and so is Ned.

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