Thursday, April 13, 2006

Is Parity Becoming More of a Reality?

To be sure, there are still the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. But the early signs are that more teams will be in the mix this year and the new competition should be fun. Teams like the Brewers, Reds, Tigers and Cubs look early like they can compete.

The Tigers, Reds and Brewers are the most fun to watch so far. As with all up and coming teams, pitching will be the key for all three teams.

The Brewers have won seven of their first ten games. Their starting pitching has been suspect, but their bullpen boasts six pitchers who have yet to give up a run (in 16 and two-thirds inning). Their offense is spotty as well, but Carlos Lee is a real star and Prince Fielder will get more scary as the year goes along. Geoff Jenkins is batting .323 but has only one extra base hit.

Maybe we'll even get to see a Brewer game on national television this season. And just wait until Ben Sheets returns!

The Tigers are mashing the ball. They have already hit 47 homers with the amazing Chris Shelton already sitting at seven. They are batting .289 as a team with Polanco and Ivan Rodriguez joining Shelton above .300. Magglio Ordonez looks solid. This team is going to hit and play sound fundamental baseball. Only the pitching will hold them down.

Mike Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers will be okay as starters. Youngster, Justin Verlander had one terrific start but got shelled today. The bullpen has been decent and there are some young guns in there.

The Tigers are in a very good division and will go as far as their pitching will take them.

The Reds are going to be an interesting team. Adam Dunn is a monster and has had a monster start. Austin Kearns is finally healthy. Felipe Lopez is off to a great start and Ryan Freel will find enough at bats to make a big difference. Hopefully, Griffey will be okay and Bronson Arroyo continues to hit a homer in every start!

The Red Sox made a big mistake with Arroyo. He was their second best pitcher and only got Cinncinati's fourth best outfielder in return. Arroyo is 2-0 with two great starts.

Eric Milton has had two good starts. Claussen, Harang and Dave Williams need to give them enough quality starts in between. The bullpen has been banged around but even so, the Reds are 7-3, which isn't something anyone has been able to say in a long time.

Two teams going in the opposite direction seem to be the Phillies and the Texas Rangers. The Rangers really seem to miss Soriano in the middle of their lineup and their pitching isn't any better than it has been. They are off to a horrible start.

Likewise, the Phillies seemed to make the wrong decision on Jim Thome, who is proving (if his health holds up) that he still has some pop in his bat (six homers already) and had a major downgrade from Billy Wagner to Tom Gordon as closer. Jon Leiber has given up 10 runs in 10.1 innings and the rest of the pitching doesn't look much better. Has this team's window of opportunity already closed? It appears so.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Some Early Observations

The the Fan has been busy working on his company site (see link). That doesn't mean that the interest hasn't been there. The season is a week old now and there are some early signs worth watching and some comments worth making:

- What's with the season opening with a bunch of night games? Some East Coast teams started out on the West Coast with games starting at 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening (Eastern Time). That's just great for the young fans that want to see their teams for the first time. To be sure, it's a money-induced decision, but it's poor consideration for the fans.

- ESPN's Rob Neyer wrote the best steroid essay yet. Good luck to George Mitchell (from the Fan's state BTW) and to all of baseball for what the former senator might uncover. The jury is still out whether the average fan really cares. This one doesn't.

- How could Tony Womack get another starting position? What do managers and general managers see in this guy?

- Derrek Lee is proving that last year was not a "career" year, but a progression of a superstar. Lee is starting this year where last year left off.

- Randy Johnson looks a lot better this year for the Yankees. Too bad the rest of the team doesn't look very good right now.

- Pennsylvania is still "Oh" for the season as the Phillies and Pirate have gone the season without a win. How weird is that.

- The Brewers are 5-0! That's great to see. Is it an a sign of the season to come or just a good start against easy teams?

- Who is Chris Shelton and what is he eating for breakfast? The first week of the season shows the 33rd round draft choice batting .700 for the season with five homers and nine extra base hits in just 20 at bats. Wow!

- Oakland has great young pitching, but little or no offense. It will be difficult to keep winning games batting .212 as a team.

- The Reds look pretty good. If they can just get some pitching...

- Albert Pujols is simply amazing. A-Rod is the only one close and both are the players of this generation as much as Mays, Mantle and Aaron were the players of theirs.