Wednesday

4-7-10: Eight Thoughts on the Sesason So Far...

Hello again everybody...

We've reached the middle of the week, and... I really don't have much in terms of a preamble. There really hasn't been much going on beyond the things I'm going to talk about in the core of the column.

But I usually like to have something light and personal in this opening section to give those readers who aren't hardcore sports fans a lil something to munch on.

Today, I've got nothing. Really. It's been two fairly uneventful days. Nothing dramatic. Nothing self-deprecatingly amusing. Just nothing.

Of course, now that I've said that, I'll walk out of work and a piano will fall on my head or something.

Let's hope not, but I'm just saying...

In any case, as little as has happened to me personally, there's been plenty already that's happened in the world of baseball. Opening Day on Monday was phenomenal for a whole mess of reasons. I'll discuss.

No more filler... bring on the main course!

”I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.”
- Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967), American writer and editor


I have no idea where this baseball season's going to go, but we're on our way!

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Eight Thoughts on the Season So Far...

1. Roy Halladay is still Roy Halladay... the league doesn't matter, the team around him barely matters. When you run Doc Halladay out on the mound, you're going to have a good chance to win.

That being said, ooh-wee do the Phillies look good. Sure it's hard to get an accurate gauge on just how good they are when they're playing the Nationals. But look at these numbers:

Halladay threw 7 innings, scattered 6 hits, surrendered only 1 earned run and struck out 9.

Placido Polonco went 3-for-5 with a home run and 6 RBI.

Five different Phillies batted-in runs, all nine starters got a hit including Halladay.

And through all of that onslaught, the Phillies managed to strand 11 runners on base. That means with an extra hit or two, this was a 15-1 game instead of 11-1.

Wow.

2. Tim Lincecum started his campaign for a Cy Young 3-peat... and while Halladay will challenge him, Lincecum's going to have a shot at it.

Halladay's numbers were good. Lincecum's were just a touch better. Like Halladay, he went seven innings in the opener. Unlike Halladay, Tim didn't surrender a run (earned or otherwise). A 1.29 ERA looks great, 0.00 looks better. Lincecum also racked up 7 strikeouts in his debut.

Watch these two pitchers all season long. The race for the NL Cy Young is going to be a fun one. Lincecum doesn't have the same talent surrounding him that Halladay has, but voters often take that into consideration.

We'll see!

3. Zack Greinke had a great start, but got hosed by his bullpen... what a surprise.

This just in, the sun is still hot, and the Royals bullpen still sucks.

Greinke, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner, went six innings in his 2010 debut, surrendering one earned run and striking out four. When he left the game the Royals held a 4-2 lead over Detroit. In the top of the seventh, the bullpen gacked up 6 runs with three different Kansas City relievers throwing gas on the fire. The Royals lost 8-4.

The part that amazes me is that this didn't happen more often to Greinke in 2009. Somehow, with that lack of support, he still managed to win 16 games. If you were somehow able to statistically adjust for the lack of talent around him, that's got to be a 20-win season, doesn't it?

Mind you, I still hope that the Twins manage to miss him when Kansas City comes to town two weekends from now.

(Did I mention that I'll be at the Saturday game? Just sayin'...)

4. Mark Buehrle has already won the Gold Glove for 2010...yes, that's right, in one game.

Did you see this play?! (Click on the link and then on the window that says “Beuhrle's play”

I mean, good lord! There are so many things that go into making that play that it boggles the mind. Having the reflexes (and the courage) to throw his foot out to deflect that ball, recognizing immediately where the ball got deflected to, getting over there quickly enough to have a chance to make a play, recognizing that the only chance he had was with the “Agassi 5-hole” move, and then having the athletic ability to make that move!

Wow. It pains me to compliment a member of the White Sox in any way, shape, or fashion. But that ladies and gentlemen is a Gold Glove pitcher right there.

I think ESPN's Bill Simmons said it best on his Twitter account:

”Mark Buehrle just made the greatest fielding play in pitcher history. Someone will have to catch a line drive with their genitals to top it.”

Sums it up nicely, no?

5. Wait, the Pirates scored 11 runs?! Against a 2009 playoff team?!

No, there's no typo there. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who usually take a solid week to score 11 runs, lit Dodgers “ace” Vicente Padilla for seven earned runs and the Dodgers staff as a whole for the aforementioned 11.

The Pirates?! I'm still trying to wrap my head around that.

I knew Padilla had the ability to blow up on the mound, but to the Pirates?! Not sure I'd have called that.

Here are nine words you don't hear very often at the ol' betting window: “I'd like to take the Pirates to the over.”

I'm not going to over-react and predict a long summer in Dodgertown, but the possibility is certainly there.

6. Speaking of long summers... ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Chicago Cubs!

Atlanta's got a great pitching staff, but you'll recall in my NL East Preview that I was concerned about the Braves' ability to score runs. I guess that wasn't a problem on Monday.

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano couldn't get out of the second inning, and Atlanta torched (copyright Bill Sherman - I want to see how many people get that) Chicago to the tune of 16 runs. Oof!

As ugly as Zambrano's line was (1.1 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR), what should be of greater concern to Cubs fans was his evident lack of concern as he left the game. This is a guy who's destroyed his fair share of Gatorade jugs, but you'd have thought he was coming out of the game with a 6-run lead given the way he reacted.

Not a good sign.

7. Speaking of Atlanta, everybody's talking about uber-rookie Jason Heyward... and why not?

The kid they're calling Jay-Hey homered in his first ever MLB at-bat. It wasn't any wall-scraper either. Heyward worked the count, got a fastball he could handle and deposited it about 442 feet from home plate with nearly 60 friends and family watching in the stands.

Pretty good? Yeah, you could say that.

Heyward's only the fourth Brave in franchise history to homer in his first plate appearance. Coincidentally Jordan Schafer accomplished the feat just last season.

I hate to give into the hype and declare this kid the “next big thing”, but given his ability to handle the hype-machine so far, it's certainly a possibility. “22” just became a very popular number down Georgia-way.

8. Joe Nathan who? Okay, that might be a little strong, but new Twins closer Jon Rauch looked solid in his 2010 debut.

I said in an earlier column that it's possible the Twins won't miss a beat without Joe Nathan. No disrespect to Joe, but successful teams have pieced together the closer role before. There are enough good arms in the Twins 'pen for them to pull it off in 2010.

That being said, it's certainly preferable for one guy to step up and claim the role, thereby slotting the rest of the relievers into specific roles. When guys arrive at the ballpark knowing their likely roles, it's easier for everybody.

One game is just that, one game. We've got to see Rauch perform consistently before declaring him “the man” for 2010. But his clean 9th against the Angels last night was a great start!


So there you have it. I could've found more than eight items to discuss, I'm sure, but I don't want to overwhelm you this early in the season! It's a marathon, not a sprint folks. We've got to pace ourselves!

That's it for today. I'm back on Friday with the triumphant return of the DFTU.

Until then, thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. "Atlanta torched (copyright Bill Sherman)"

    Yes, I got that.

    Also, is there some rule that the good closers for the Twins have to have a first name that starts with "J"? I'm just wondering.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nevermind, I just have a short memory. Rick Aguilera doesn't have a "J".

    ReplyDelete