My Early MLB Reactions | Sharapova's Thigh

  • Relax about David Ortiz people. He's going to come around. This happens every damn year. Somebody flips out because a superstar is off to a horrid start, and sure enough the numbers are there at the end of the season. I'll be shocked if his 30+ homers and 100+ RBI are not there at the end of the year. He'll be hitting his clutch bombs and leading the Boston Red Sox to another playoff run in no time.
  • Along that thinking, it drives me apeshit how into the standings people are getting already. The Florida Marlins, a team with a combined payroll lower than Alex Rodriguez's salary are in first place in the NL East at 9-5. The Kansas City Royals are 9-6, and sure they are a little bit improved, have a nice young rotation and are headed in the right direction for once, but there's no way they finish better than 4th place in the AL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals team that most picked to finish at or near the bottom of the NL Central for many wise reasons are 11-4. Meanwhile, teams that will be in the races come September in the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Atlanta Braves only have 5 wins. What does all this mean? It's early, and it's baseball. Everybody's going to go on a little run here and there, but over the course of 162 games, it's going to be the teams we all thought would be competing for the playoffs. Sure we've seen unexpected teams such as the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins over the recent years make the playoffs, but in this day and age with the significant payroll differences between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles for example, the teams with the money are likely going to be the ones competing for October. They're also the teams that will make necessary moves to improve their club when the July 31st trade deadline comes, when the teams with a small payroll will struggle to do so. It's crap, but it's just the way it is. And I'm not telling the fans of the Royals, Marlins, and Cardinals to stop watching, I'm just telling you to not get carried away with the early good start of your team.
  • How much longer until Prince Fielder starts eating meat again? The plumpy Milwaukee Brewers first baseman became a vegetarian in the off-season. He hit 50 homers last year, and was second in the National League with a homer every 11.2 at bats. So far this year, he he's yet to homer in 49 at bats. Additionally, he has a slugging percentage of .286, and last year he was second in the National League at .618. I know, it's early, and just like Ortiz he's going to come around, but just thought this was interesting.
  • In other news involving fat people, Andruw Jones has to be over 260 pounds. That's quite hefty for a center-fielder. After outfielder Juan Pierre being one of the biggest free agent busts in MLB history, Los Angeles Dodgers fans are hoping Andruw gets his ass into shape, show that he cares, and start earning his money.
  • Carlos Pena is tied with the MLB lead with 6 homers... but has a batting average under the Mendoza line at .186. 6 of his 10 hits have left the yard.
  • Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee is in for a special season like he had in 2005. Lee broke his wrist in 2006, and never seemed to regain his power stroke until after the All-Star break last season. Well, he's absolutely killing the ball right now, already hitting 6 homers. He went into the All-Star break in July with the same amount of homers last year, finishing with 22 on the season. We knew he would continue to be a plus-.300 hitter, but the return of the power stroke is a very positive sign for Lee and the Cubs. It's not just the homers that show how well he's hitting, as he's hitting the ball with authority to all parts of the field. It's going to be difficult for pitchers to figure out a way to get him out this year.
  • Speaking of the Cubs, left-handed starting pitchers Ted Lilly and Rich Hill are a major concern right now. Lilly's velocity is down a few mph, and he's had terrible command. They think he could be experiencing a "dead arm" period, and the beginning of the season is certainly not the time for that. He pitches later today, and another bad outing will probably have the Cubs taking a serious look at his arm. More confusing is the case with Rich Hill. His problems are purely related to his command, which has been atrocious since the beginning of Spring Training. The Cubs essentially skipped his last start and put him in the bullpen to possibly work a couple innings out of there this past weekend to tune up, but they never got the ideal situation to put him in. They're going to let him start again this weekend against the Pirates, and if he has shoddy control with his fastball and curveball again, there's talk he could be taken out of the rotation in favor of Jon Lieber or Sean Marshall. Lieber should be in the rotation anyway if you ask me.
  • I would not be surprised at all to see the Pittsburgh Pirates trade one of their outfielders before the deadline. They have a surplus of solid outfielders right now... and not much else. Just like every other year since the Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Slyke days, they have no chance of competing for the playoffs this year. They need to keep playing 26-year-old CF Nate McClouth, who leads the NL in hits with 26. Additionally, 27-year-old CF Nyjer Morgan seems like a Juan Pierre clone(which many would say is a bad thing) and they should get him some more playing time to see what they have. Xavier Nady is off to a terrific start, but at 29 and being an average corner outfielder at best over the course of his career, the Pirates might be better off trading him for a prospect. The most likely guy to be the odd man out(aka the lucky guy) is former All-Star Jason Bay. There's been rumors of him going to the San Diego Padres, and that would make perfect sense. A change of scenery and a winning culture might be able to Bay back to the hitter he was from 2004 to 2006.
  • People keep doubting the Arizona Diamondbacks, and here they are again winning games. Justin Upton is going to be a superstar, and it might be happening before any of us could have predicted. The 20-year-old phenom is hitting .357 with 5 homers and 12 RBI already. A few of those homers have been of the tape-measuring variety. Another incredible young talent in Chris Young is showing more patience at the plate. Although he'll be better suited in the middle of the lineup in coming years, he's been leading off for the Diamondbacks. He already has 11 walks in 67 plate appearances, in comparison to only 43 walks in 624 plate appearances in 2007. Also, starting pitcher Brandon Webb has to be the most underrated pitcher in the league. He's boring to most people because he just gets groundballs and keep his pitch count efficient like he's supposed to, rather than the guys that light up the radar gun and are out of the game early after high pitch counts. Webb is already 4-0, with an ERA under 1.86. He won the Cy Young in 2006 with a record of 16-8, and ERA of 3.10. However, he probably even had a better year in 2007 with an 18-10 record, and 3.01 ERA.
  • Like Rich Hill, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia's early problems seem to be very much related to command issues. This is really mind-boggling...He's already walked 14 hitters in 18 innings this year, and only walked 37 hitters in 241 innings in 2007! The velocity at least seems to be there, so if C.C. can just get his terrific command back he should be okay, and the Indians will look like one of the best teams in baseball again as they should. That is of course if they get their bullpen situation under control, but Rafael Betancourt should be able to step in and do everything Joe Borowski could do in the closer's role and more.
  • The team that should be the Indians' main competition for the AL Central title is also having serious pitching woes as many predicted. We all knew the Detroit Tigers' hitting would come around, but the pitching is another story, especially in the bullpen. Todd Jones is old and sucks, and we do not even know for sure if Joel Zumaya will be able to pitch this year. Regardless, they will be able to slug themselves into many victories. They should definitely look for bullpen help before the trade deadline though. Chad Cordero of the Washington Nationals and Huston Street of the Oakland Athletics are a couple of guys that I think will be available.
  • It's sad that one of the game's best young players in Hanley Ramirez is playing for the Florida Marlins where less than 10,000 people come to watch him.
Anything catch your eye in the early going of the 2008 baseball season?