Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mound conversations

Ever wonder what the pitching coach or manager talks about about when he visits the mound? 



Ricky Romero and Shaun Marcum.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Odds and ends around the majors


After the wild ending to the Jays / Rangers game yesterday, the Blue Jays stunned many people, sending Travis Snider to Las Vegas (AAA).  The guys at Getting Blanked discuss the move.



Ever wonder how the food is at the ballpark in Cleveland?  Don't ask Heidi Watney of NESN after this taste test went wrong!

How cool would it be if Wayne Gretzky's son was drafted by the Jays?  Oh ya, he's a good player as well!

Braves pitcher Derek Lowe was charged with a DUI.  What's with these athletes recently.

If the playoffs started now.  The AL would have the Yankees, Indians, Rangers, and Rays in, and if it was 2012, and the new playoff format was in place, the Angels would be the next best team.

In the NL, the Phillies, Cardinals and Rockies would be in.  The Wild-Card team would be the Florida Marlins and the extra Wild-Card team would be the Reds.


The Phillies are 9-0 in day games this season, 7-8 in night games.  Is it because of the coffee they are drinking?

The Rays are 4-0 in 1-run games, this after the bullpen was completely changed and with Kyle Farnsworth as their closer.

The Indians are 16-8 and have a 4.5 game lead over the Royals and Tigers.  They have a 6-0 record already vs. the AL East.  Last season, the Indians were 17-24 vs. the AL East.


If you have Cubs' starter Ryan Dempster on your fantasy team...drop him now.  Last night in Arizona he only recorded one out and was booed off the mound by the Cubs faithful that made the trip to Arizona.  His line last night: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 0 K..ouch!   and he has a 9.58 ERA on the season.

In tonight's matchups:

Interesting stat in Washington: Adam LaRoche is hitting .150 lifetime vs. Tim Lincecum, but has two homers off the right-hander in his 20 at-bats.  Jayson Werth is the only other Nationals players to have gone deep lifetime vs. Lincecum.

Ricky Romero will throw for the Jays tonight against the Yankees, never an easy task, but he has had success against Jeter (1-13 lifetime, but 1 HR) and Robinson Cano (2-16, 1 HR).  Romero's lifetime ERA vs. Yankees though, 5.70.  Freddy Garcia, throwing for the Yankees has a lifetime ERA of 6.10 against the Jays, expect a high scoring game.

No current Angels player has a career home run off David Price of the Rays.

Albert Pujols is hitting .471 all-time against the Braves Tim Hudson with 2 home runs and 4 RBI.

C.J. Wilson will look to get the Rangers back on a winning track, and he goes up against an A's team that has 0 career home runs off the lefty.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Snider demoted and hockey predictions

The Blue Jays have demoted the struggling Travis Snider to Las Vegas (AAA) after hitting only .184 with one home run and 12 RBI.  This was a story that broke on a live stream from the guys at Getting Blanked.





The Jays also sent Chris Woodward to the minors, as Rajai Davis is ready to return from the disabled list.  2008 1st round pick, David Cooper will be recalled from Las Vegas to take Woodward's spot.

Wondering if any of the Jays or Yankees (Patterson, Snider or Swisher) can name any players on the Vancouver Canucks or San Jose Sharks?


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tony La Russa outsmarts Dusty Baker?

On Friday night, while this was happening in the St. Louis area.





The Cardinals and Reds were obviously in a weather delay at the ballpark.  Just your normal weather delay, some thought, but when you look at what happened behind the scenes, it was another Tony La Russa moment where he seems to outsmart the opposition, but this time, it worked.

Both clubs had received information on the status of the weather, but the Cardinals took the info one way and the Reds seem to take it another.  With bad weather on it's way, the umpires decided to try and start the game anyways.  The scheduled starters, Kyle McClellan for the Cards and Edinson Volquez for the Reds were getting ready for their warmups, only McClellan didn't go out to the bullpen, Miguel Batista took over that role.

Obviously, La Russa knew the weather was going to force the game into a lengthy delay, or else McClellan would have gone out to warmup.  Reds manager Dusty Baker, thinking the game was going to start, so why would it only last a few innings, had Volquez continue his normal routine before a start.

What happened next was the storyline.

Batista started the game for the Cards, and walked Drew Stubbs on four-pitches, the weather at this point was starting to get darker and it looked like it was about to turn nasty....Two more pitches were thrown to Brandon Phillips....the rain comes...the game goes into a long delay.

After a two hour and ten minute delay, the game resumed, only the scheduled starter, Kyle McClellan took the mound for the Cardinals and Edinson Volquez, who didn't throw a pitch, but warmed up two hours before was scratched.  Matt Maloney had to be used a the substitute starter.

So, did Tony La Russa have different information about the weather, or did Dusty Baker and the Reds fail to understand the situation. 

“I’m going to give the Cardinals two thumbs up for what they did,” said the Reds' Brandon Phillips. “They changed their pitcher on us at the last minute, that was a very smart thing to do.
“The next thing you know they brought in their starter who was going to start the game, and he was fresh.”

“The information we received was probably not the same information they received,” Baker said. “We probably shouldn’t have started in the first place. We thought there was going to be a window of opportunity.”  Baker added that Volquez could have been used Sunday night if he he didn't go through the warmups.

Always something going on around the MLB on a nightly basis. Oh, by the way, the Cardinals won the game, 4-2, and Kyle McClellan improved to 3-0.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Would the Mets deal Jason Bay?

Although it's highly unlikely the Mets would start to make deals at this point of the season, they might consider them after reports of the league loaning the Mets $25 million to help with payroll surfaced earlier in the year. Maybe it would make sense if they unloaded a big contract soon.  Would they consider trading Jason Bay?

Bay will make $18.1 million in 2011, $18.13 million in 2012 and the same in 2013, with a $3 million buyout option for the 2014 season.  Pricey for many teams, but losing this contract would help the organization and cut into their $142 million team payroll.

One team that would make sense as a trading partner would be the Toronto Blue Jays.  After a failed attempt to get him from the Pirates, before the Red Sox acquired him in the three way Manny deal with the Dodgers, the Jays would love to see him patrolling left field the next few seasons.

The Jays. rumoured to be interested this off season in Michael Young of the Rangers and most recently, Brandon Wood of the Angels, might mean that the Edwin Encarnacion experiment may be coming to an end soon.  Brett Lawrie, acquired form the Brewers in the Shaun Marcum deal, has been playing third for Las Vegas (AAA) but is not ready for the majors defensively just yet.  If the Jays want to spend now, they could acquire Bay for prospects, move Jose Bautitsa back to third, move Travis Snider to right, and insert Jason Bay to left.

In his career, Jason Bay has 191 home runs, 657 RBI and 1,019 hits in 1,019 games.  His best season ironically came in the 2009 season with the Red Sox when he hit .267 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI. 

Limited by a concussion last season and an early injury in spring training to his ribs, his Mets career has been anything but spectacular, hitting .259 with 6 home runs in 2010 and has two games under his belt in 2011.

Stranger things have happened, but he showed he can play in the American League, and more specifically the AL East.

Friday, April 15, 2011

ExtraBaseHit: Power Rankings (Week 2)

Power Rankings: big changes since the first rankings, as the Indians and Royals are surprising many, while, the Red Sox and Rays are slumping in the early going.

PR: previous ranking before season started



1. (PR 2) Philadelphia Phillies: Blanton and Hamels off to average starts, but Halladay looking like himself and offence starting to heat up.

2. (PR 6) Texas Rangers: got off to best start in franchise history (9-1).  Kinsler and Cruz become first teammates to homer in first three games.

3. (PR 11) Colorado Rockies: they key to their season was to get off to a good start.  (10-2) record best in NL and Tulowitzki already has 7 home runs.

4. (PR 4) New York Yankees: first in the AL East with 7-4 record.  Cano and A-Rod off to good starts and Teixeira already with 4 homers.  Phil Hughes a question mark with velocity down.

5. (PR 14) Cincinnati Reds: first in NL Central and Joey Votto picking up where he left off his MVP campaign.  Brandon Phillips injured again though.

6. (PR 12) Milwaukee Brewers: starting pitchers are 6-1 in last 7 and Greinke's return 2 weeks away.  Fielder and Braun have started to heat up.

7. (PR 8) LA Angels: If it wasn't for Jered Weaver and his AL leading 29 strikeouts, they might be in last.  Vernon Wells off to terrible start (.102 average, 0 HR)

8. (PR 9) Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko leading the charge, but have already changed closers couple times and Jake Peavy still out.

9. (PR 16) LA Dodgers: Kemp back to his old self and getting Jon Garland back soon.

10. (PR 1) San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain still bright spots, but playing very inconsistently as a team.  Closer Brian Wilson is back and that should be a difference maker.

11. (PR 18) Florida Marlins: playing better after the trade of Dan Uggla

12. (PR 15) Toronto Blue Jays: started the season at home vs. the Twins and A's and made both teams look like minor-league clubs, then hit the road and have not played well.  Losing close games though.

13. (PR 25) Cleveland Indians: made the big jump in the rankings due to an eight-game winning streak.  Travis Hafner looks healthy and the pitching has been solid.

14. (PR 21) Baltimore Orioles: were tied with the Yankees at 6-4 in first place in the East for the first time since the 2008 season.  Young pitching gives them hope, but this is just early success.

15. (PR 5) Atlanta Braves: have not been able to put things together yet this season.  Much more talented than the 5-8 record.

16. (PR 24) Oakland Athletics: Josh Willingham leading team with 3 homers, but has team-high18 strikeouts as well.  Pitching still very promising with Gio Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill.

17. (PR 27) Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon off to good start (.345 AVG and team-leading 9 RBI)

18. (PR 10) Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera the triple crown, for his own team :.326 AVG, 4 HR, 10 RBI.  Verlander looking good, but team can't play consistently right now.

19. (PR 19) Chicago Cubs: Alfonso Soriano already with 4 home runs, but pitching ERA leaders is Matt Garza with a 5.68 ERA followed by Zambrano at 6.11 and Dempster at 6.30.

20. (PR 13) St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols has started to heat up, but something doesn't look right with ace Chris Carpenter (5.82 ERA) Lance Berkman looks like a steal as a free agent signing (4 HR)

21. (PR 17) Tampa Bay Rays: got off to a dreadful 1-8 start and Manny Ramirez retired instead of serving a 100-game suspension from league for drug use.

22. (PR 3) Boston Red Sox: got off to a 0-6 start, currently sit 2-9, and Dice-K and John Lackey look awful.  Carl Crawford probably thinks he feels pressure, but this is nothing if the losing continues.

23. (PR 7) Minnesota Twins: Morneau has 0 home runs, Mauer on the disabled list and pitching looks weak.  Joe Nathan looking like a guy that missed last season.

24. (PR 28) San Diego Padres: Aaron Harang looks like his old self and Orlando Hudson already with 6 stolen bases.

25. (PR 22) New York Mets: have led by 2 or more runs the last 5 games and lost all 5.

26. (PR 23) Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth looked to be a major bust until he played the Phillies (3-11, 3 R, HR) has only 2 solo shots all year.  Ryan Zimmerman injury will hurt them.

27. (PR 29) Arizona Diamondbacks: Miguel Montero hitting .444 and Justin Upton and Chris Young with 3 homers each.  Hanging in there in the NL West.

28. (PR 30) Pittsburgh Pirates: have been pitching better than expected, but offence still struggling with .223 team average, tied for 25th in league.

29. (PR 20) Seattle Mariners: had two surprising victories against the Toronto Blue Jays, but don't look good on offence or defence and "King" Felix roughed up by Jays a bit.

30. (PR 26) Houston Astros: have only 7 home runs, and no player on roster with two.  Brett Myers the lone bright spot with a 1.77 ERA.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Indians and Red Sox, by the numbers

The one thing sports fans seem to do each new season,  in any sport, is crown champions during the first week, and write off thought-to-be contenders after an early losing streak.  These two situations have never been more evident than with the Indians and Red Sox of the 2011 season.


The Indians started the year with two ugly losses against the White Sox (15-10 and 8-3) and Cleveland fans were thinking, oh well, this is what was expected, but wait...Since the loss on April 2nd, the Indians have reeled off eight straight wins, sit first in the AL Central with an 8-2 record, and have people wondering if this is for real.  Travis Hafner looks as if he may be worth the $13 million he is owed this season, and the pitching has been unhittable over the stretch.  Closer Chris Perez has 4 saves over the streak, and the team has outscored the Red Sox, Mariners and Angels 43-14 over that time.  Impressive to say the least for a team that was expected to repeat on its 2010 campaign, when they went 69-93.  But hold on...are these just numbers that are magnified by the start of the season?  Answer....Yes, but it has people wondering!

In 2010, the Indians again won only 69 ball games, but during the season, they had a few streaks when they played this well.  From June 27th - July 5th of last year, the Indians won seven of nine including a four-game sweep of the Jays.  From July 16th- July 20th, the Indians won six straight, including a four-game sweep of the Tigers.  From September 24th - October 1st, the Indians pulled off seven wins in a row.  Three good stretches of games, but only a 69-93 record to show in the end.

Its a long season folks.  It's hard to sometimes avoid the obvious early in a season, but being realistic is part of being a fan.  Enjoying the moment is as well, but the Indians winning the division and World Series for that matter, is highly unlikely, it's a long season! Streaks in this game, good and bad, happen every month, and every year. This is why they play the games, and the 162-game schedule for that matter.


The Red Sox 2-8 start is definitely something no one saw coming, but its only a ten game streak that has happened before to teams.  Sure the 0-6 start historically is not a good sign (only two teams in MLB history have ever made the playoffs after starting 0-6, the 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1995 Cincinnati Reds), but this is arguably the most talented 0-6 team to start a season in MLB history.

Last season, the Red Sox ended the season with an 89-73 record.  During the season, Boston lost five of six from April 12th-19th, lost five of six from July 4th-10th, and lost six of eight from September 4th-11th.  Their longest losing streak was only five games, but again, bad streaks do happen each season, it just stands out more in the beginning of the year.

To put things in perspective, on April 14th of the 2009 season, the Red Sox went 2-6 to start the season.  At the end of the 2009 season, the Red Sox were 95-67, and won the Wild Card. 

Enjoy the moment, enjoy the season!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quick thoughts

The Red Sox 1-7 start sounds worse than it really is.  In the 2009 season, the Red Sox started 2-6 and ended up making the playoffs as the Wild Card team at 95-67.

The only thing about the 0-6 start by the Red Sox is that only two teams in MLB history have made the playoffs after an 0-6 start.  The 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1995 Cincinnati Reds.

Since August 13th of last season, the Baltimore Orioles have the best record in the AL East.  The Orioles since that date have 31 wins, Blue Jays have 29, Yankees have 29, Rays have 28 and the Red Sox have 24.

The Rays have a major hole in their lineup with the sudden retirement of Manny Ramirez.  Just a thought, but with the Jays Brett Lawrie ready for the majors to play third, would the Jays and Rays make a deal in the division and deal Edwin Encarnacion to Tampa?

Other possible players who could go to Tampa include:

Lastings Milledge
Garrett Atkins
Troy Glaus
Fernando Tatis
Bobby Crosby
Willy Aybar
Hank Blalock
Pedro Feliz

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Comparing the 2011 Jays to the glory years

With the buzz back in the city for the Toronto Blue Jays it made me think of the World Series years of 1992 and 1993 and the great teams displayed those seasons for the fans.  I was fortunate enough to be included in those winning seasons as an employee of the team, which is why I'm starting to see a resemblance of the clubs back then to the club today.  I know the pitching staff of 2011 is still young, but, it's the connection to the fans which is getting really close to becoming what was one of the best parts of the winning years.



The fans connected with those teams, and rightfully so.  They won.  People loved Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar, Kelly Gruber, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor, Devon White, Pat Borders, Tom Henke and Duane Ward. Heck, they even loved the likes of Alfredo Griffin, Greg Myers, Rob Butler and Darnell Coles.  The point is, the fans knew the players back then, and now, they are starting to connect with the current club once again. 

The new face of the franchise, Jose Bautista, is on top of the world right now.  He set the Blue Jays home run record last season with a whopping 54 dingers and started the 2011 season with a 456 foot moon shot in the opener.  He already has two on the early season.  The crowd at the Roger Centre was electric on the opening weekend and the fans feel that something special is on it's way.  Is the team close to becoming like the 1992 and 1993 World Series teams? Well, no one will ever compare this current club to those teams, but this Jays team is giving hope back to the city.  That's for sure.

Here is a comparison of each position from 1992, 1993 and 2011 seasons.  We have included the salaries of the players from that year, as well, the stats from the season played (2010 stats for the 2011 roster). The big question with the three seasons is, what player did, or will be the name most fans are or stay attached too?

Let the debate begin.



First Base:

1992 - John Olerud: $387,000, .284 AVG, 16 HR

1993 - John Olerud: $1.5M, .363 AVG, 24 HR

2011 - Adam Lind: $5.15M, 23 HR in 2010

EDGE: tough to put young Adam Lind up against the 1992 and 1993 Olerud, but nothing can compare to the AL leader in average, John Olerud in 1993. (.363 AVG)

Second Base:

1992 - Roberto Alomar: $2.983M, .310 AVG, 76 RBI

1993 - Roberto Alomar: $4.933M, .326 AVG, 17 HR, 93 RBI

2011 - Aaron Hill: $5M, 26 HR, 68 RBI in 2010

EDGE: Aaron Hill won't ever be compared to the Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar.  The fans loved Alomar and always will.  The best second baseman, probably in the history of the game, played here and the fans appreciated all he gave the city.

Shortstop:

1992 - Manuel Lee: $1M, .263 AVG, 39 RBI

1993 - Tony Fernandez: $2.3M, .306 AVG, 50 RBI

2011 - Yunel Escobar: $2.9M, .275 AVG in 2010

EDGE: The Jays brought back Tony Fernandez and he didn't disappoint in 1993.  Escobar has a huge upside, but it will be tough to get fans to forgot Fernandez of 1993.

Third Base:

1992 - Kelly Gruber: $3.6M, .229 AVG, 11 HR

1993 - Ed Sprague: $182,000, .260 AVG, 12 HR

2011 - Edwin Encarnacion: $2.5M, 21 HR in 2010

EDGE: Kelly Gruber had a rough year offensively, but he always gave 100% effort on the field, at least it looked that way. 
Catcher:

1992 - Pat Borders: $1M, .242 AVG, 13 HR

1993 - Pat Borders: $2.5M, .254 AVG, 55 RBI

2011 - J.P. Arencibia: $417,500, 2 home runs early in 2011

EDGE: World Series MVP honours went to Borders in 1992, but Arencibia's upside has the fans talking.

Left Field:

1992 - Candy Maldonado: $1.375M, .272 AVG, 20 HR

1993 - Ricky Henderson: $3.25M, ..215 AVG, 37 R (acquired mid-season)

2011 - Travis Snider: $435,000, .255 AVG, 14 HR in 2010

EDGE: Ricky Henderson in 1993 didn't hit much, but he made a difference a top the lineup and his speed changed the dynamic of the lineup after he was acquired by Oakland.  Snider needs to stay healthy to even be compared to Henderson and Maldonado.



Right Field:

1992 - Joe Carter: $3.69M, .264 AVG, 34 HR, 119 RBI

1993 - Joe Carter: $5.5M, .254 AVG, 33 HR, 121 RBI

2011 - Jose Bautista: $8M, 54 HR in 2010




EDGE: this one is tough, but Carter obviously with the game-winner home run in 1993 off Mitch Williams brought the city into a frenzy.  Bautista right now has the fans excited, though Carter edges him out from 1993.

Centre Field:

1992 - Devon White: $2.38M, .248 AVG, 17 HR

1993 - Devon White: $3.65M, .273 AVG, 15 HR

2011 - Rajai Davis: $2.5M, 50 SB in 2010

EDGE: Devon White was turned into a solid player by manager Cito Gaston after coming over from California.  His defence will always be remembered by Toronto fans.  Having Davis around now gives the Jays their first element of speed since Devo.

DH:

1992 - Dave Winfield: $2.3M, .290 AVG, 26 HR, 108 RBI

1993 - Paul Molitor: $3.65M, .332 AVG, 22 HR, 111 RBI

2011 - Juan Rivera: $5.25M, 112 career HR

EDGE: In 1992, Dave Winfield wanted noise! and it worked, as the fans started to get louder by the game.



Starting Pitchers:

1992 - Jack Morris: $4.45M, 21-6
Juan Guzman: $242,000, 16-5
Jimmy Key: $2.275M, 13-13
Todd Stottlemyre: $1.2M, 12-11
Dave Stieb: $3.25M, 4-6
David Cone : $4.25M, 4-3

1993 -  Pat Hentgen: $182,000, 19-9
Dave Stewart: $4.3M, 12-8
Juan Guzman: $500,000, 14-3
Jack Morris: $5.4M, 7-12
Todd Stottlemyre: $2.3M, 11-12

2011 - Ricky Romero: $1M, 14-9 in 2010
Brett Cecil: $443,000, 15-7 in 2010
Brandon Morrow: $2.3M, 10-7, 178 K in 2010
Kyle Drabek: $416,000
Jesse Litsch: $830,000
Jo-Jo Reyes: $439,100

EDGE: the 2011 Jays pitching staff is tough to compare the glory years, since they are all still considered young and growing.  The 1992 staff led by the veteran Jack Morris and his 21 wins and a young Juan Guzman has the edge over 1993.



Relievers:

1992 - Tom Henke: $3.39M, 34 saves
Duane Ward: $2.4M, 1.95 ERA
Al Leiter: $180,000
David Wells: $2M
Mike Timlin: $222,000
Bob MacDonald: $182,000
Mark Eichhorn: $200,000
Pat Hentgen: $109,000

1993 - Duane Ward: $3.35M, 45 saves
Mike Timlin: $262,000, 4.69 ERA
Danny Cox: $550,000, 3.12 ERA
Tony Castillo: $185,000
Ken Dayley: $1.8M
Al Leiter: $287,000
Mark Eichhorn: $850,000

2011 - Jason Frasor: $3.5M
Frank Francisco: $4M, 32 career saves
David Purcey: $436,000
Jon Rauch: $3.5M
Carlos Villanueva: $1.4M
Marc Rzepczynski: $429,000
Casey Janssen: $1.09M
Shawn Camp: $2.25M
Octavio Dotel: $3M

EDGE: Tom Henke and Duane Ward in 1992 were unhittable, case closed!

Bench:

1992 -  Derek Bell
Alfredo Griffin
Pat Tabler
Greg Myers
Jeff Kent

1993 - Randy Knorr
Alfredo Griffin
Dick Schofield
Darnell Coles
Darrin Jackson
Turner Ward

2011 - John McDonald
Mike McCoy
Jayson Nix
Jose Molina
Corey Patterson

EDGE: neither bench had to play much back in 92 and 93, in fact, Cito Gaston and the Jays of 1993 only had 27 pinch hit at bats all season. 

So most of the edge went to the 1992 and 1993 players, but that doesn't mean the 2011 squad has no chance with the fans of today.  They are close, real close.  I know the 2011 season has just begun, but the hype in the city mixed with the fans that showed up at Rogers Centre this past weekend (110,000+), plus an exciting young team full of promise, makes it feel as if the glory years are almost upon us all over again. Gone are Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay and in are Jose Bautista, J.P Arencibia and Ricky Romero.  The club has done an excellent job at marketing the team with it's upbeat commercials, keeping up with twitter and facebook and even included a big banner on the Gardner Expressway on your way in to Toronto, reminding you of the upcoming opening series.



Good starts to the season get you to believe, but that's not such a bad thing, especially for a team that has waiting almost 20 years for another World Series appearance.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jays looking good and Longoria's out

It was a great first weekend around the majors and starting on a weekend really seemed to help with the attendance around the league.

The Blue Jays saw over 100,000 people show up to the Rogers Centre, the second biggest crowd to open the season in over 10 years, and they didn't disappoint the fans, as the team made the Twins look like non-contenders in the AL Central.

The ninth inning rally on Sunday fell short, but the buzz is back about the team, which is what Paul Beeston and company were saying a few years back.  They stressed patience with the club, and with GM Alex Anthopoulos having a plan in place, this is team that will be competing consistently in the East, probably this year and next for sure.

Notes:

The loss of Evan Longoria to an oblique strain is a major blow to a team that got swept by the Orioles.  The 0-3 start is not what they needed, plus, Manny Ramirez doesn't look good at all and Johnny Damon is already complaining of an injury, probably caused by the brutal turf at Tropicana.  Longoria, the team says, is expected out 3 weeks, but oblique problems tend to last 4-6 weeks, and have been known to pretty much last the season (the soreness that is)

The AL Central is up for grabs! I know it's early, but, the Tigers didn't look good at all against the Yankees, although they battled to a win Sunday, and the Twins looked terrible all weekend vs the Jays.  The Twins Denard Span might want to check his game weight today, as the Jays peppered the ball his way in centre all weekend!  Span was seen almost every inning giving it is all to catch up to the long, loud, fly balls towards him.  If they had anyone else out there this weekend, the Jays would have racked up more doubles, a few triples and even an inside-the-park home run.  The rest of the Twins defence looked shaky (not as bad as the Jays' third baseman Edwin Encarnacion though, who made 3 brutal errors in the series)

Getting back to the Twins, they couldn't hit, the couldn't field, couldn't execute on run downs and almost blew the game Sunday when Joe Nathan looked like he hadn't pitched in almost a year and half....oh ya..he was out after Tommy John surgery...and it showed.  Carl Pavano didn't look interested and Francisco Liriano's chances now of becoming a Yankees are slim after his outing!

EBH gives the Central to the White Sox, even though it's only April 4th.

Quick thoughts:

The Cubs losing two to the Pirates is not a good sign for them at all.

The Rangers Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are the first teammates to start the season with a home run in the teams' first three games of the season.  They always say to judge your season on how the first batter fairs.  Kinsler homered off Lester to start their season and now they are 3-0.

The Red Sox insist they haven't started panicking, but the have.  Moving Carl Crawford to the seventh spot in the lineup against a left-hander Matt Harrison Sunday is a bad sign for a player making the money he is. (7-yr / $142 million) The last three seasons, Crawford has hit .259 against south paws vs his .316 average against right-handers.  Oh ya..the Red Sox are 0-3.

The Brewers have started 0-3, and their starting pitching is the main reason.  Randy Wolf didn't look good against the Reds and Shaun Marcum didn't either and the team ranks near the bottom in all pitching categories already.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Notes from the first few days

Thanks to Broadly Speaking for having me on their show this past week on thescore Satellite Radio Channel 98, and talking baseball. We talk about the Blue Jays, the Giants pitching staff and Albert Pujols.  Listen

The season has finally started, and already you can almost see little story lines starting with the games that have already been played.  Here are a few observations from what ExtraBaseHit has seen so far in this very early season.

The Blue Jays put on an impressive offensive display on opening night, with four home runs being hit, tying a Blue Jays record for homers on opening day.  Catcher J.P Arencibia, who seems to almost relish the big game, hitting two home runs last season in his majot league debut, hit two again Friday night.  Jose Bautista picked up where he left off last season with his first home run of the season.  It's interesting because Bautista hit the home run after after a brief argument with the home plate umpire over how ling Bautista was taking to get set in the box.  On the next pitch, Bautista deposited the ball in the left centre field bleachers.

What we really didn't like was the Twins defence.  They failed to pick off Rajai Davis in the first, which probably ended up costing them the game.  Pitcher Carl Pavano had him fooled, but they couldn't execute the run down, not something you usually see from a Ron Gardenhire team.  The rest of the game, balls were being booted, left right, and the centre.  Not impressed with the Twins defence or the offence.  Hopefully not a sign of things to come or the Division crown will be heading to Chicago or Detroit.

The defending champs, the San Francisco Giants are 0-2, and don't look good on offence at all.  Aubrey Huff got his new deal in the off season and starts the year going 0-7.

Felix Hernandez pitched a complete game against the Athletics and the Mariners actually scored some runs for him.  If he becomes a Yankees this year, that will be the final piece that keeps the Yankees in the race, for obvious reasons.

The Pirates win was not only big for the team, but it was historically as well, as Neil Walkers grand slam was the first slam on opening day since Roberto Clemente in 1962.

Odd fact: with the season opening on a Thursday this season, some teams actually had a Friday night off, something very rare in MLB.  In fact, baseball always schedules games on Friday Saturday and Sunday, but traditionally teams do get days off after an opener, which happened to fall on Friday.

Teams opening at home this year have the luxury of having the weekend on their side.  Usually attendance goes down drastically after opening day, but having the weekend this year may help out some teams.