It has not yet been a week into this baseball season, but there is plenty to talk about. In this weekly column we recap the week in baseball and talk about the big stories of the week.
Umpire Rips Yankees-Red Sox
You have heard, I’m sure, about Joe West calling the Red Sox and Yankees a “disgrace” for how slowly they played. He is correct in his estimation that the game is taking too long (the average Yankees-Red Sox game takes 40 minutes longer than the average game), but maybe he should have found a more tactful way to say it. Umpires are really picky about what players say to them, and criticizing an umpire can land you a hefty fine, but it looks like not much happens when the umpires criticize the players. Joe West is correct that the two teams should play at a more reasonable speed, but come on, Joe. Do it the right way, in private. He did what he could by not granting timeout to players as often, but that is not a matter that you air publicly. Speed up the game, Yankees and Sox.
If the season ended right now, the Oakland Athletics (3-1), Minnesota Twins (3-1) and San Francisco Giants (3-0) would be the top teams in their leagues. The Giants swept the Astros fairly easily (as they should), the A’s took care of the M’s and the Twins out-slugged the Angels to get off to fast starts. I believe both AL teams are for real and that while that is somewhat surprising for the A’s, I really like their team. There will be plenty more on them in my AL West Preview (coming soon), but I believe Sheets-Braden-Duchscherer-Anderson-Gonzalez could be one of the sneaky best staffs in baseball. The Twins were my pick to win the AL Central so it is not too surprising to see them off to a good start either. However, I am less optimistic about the Giants start. The cleaned up a fairly sloppy Astros team that never starts well and while Lincecum, Cain and Zito all looked good, I do not think they can keep this type of pace up. However, this nice start should at least give some hope to fans in the Bay Area and Minnesota.
The Blue Jays
Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. The Blue Jays are playing really well. 2-1 does not tell the whole story either, as only a blown save by Jason Frasor stands between them and a 3-0 start. The blown save is a concern, but there is so much to be optimistic about in Toronto right now that we can look past it. Vernon Wells is on fire, and while it would be easy to say “finally living up to the contract”, I will not go there. Instead I will give Vernon huge credit for being a leader on a young team. The pitching has been impressive too, against a top-notch Rangers lineup no less. Marcum, Tallet and Romero have all looked fantastic so far, outperforming expectations up north. I liked the Blue Jays this year (although had them fourth due to having to play the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays so many times this year), but did not think they would play so well so early. Watch out for the Blue Jay Way.
Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles
I know, it is Las Vegas in the movie title, but it applies to the Dodgers pitching staff. Going into the year, I knew the Dodgers had not added anything, but still had enough to make it work. However, Vincente Padilla got lit up, Clayton Kershaw walked more guys than innings pitched, and left Pittsburgh with two losses. I still think that the Dodgers will be fine when Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin and the rest of the star-studded lineup round into form, but for now Dodgers fans must wait and hope that the pitching comes around, because without it they will miss the playoffs.
I do not have any specific commentary on the day, except to say that I am glad it is here. Albert Pujols’ first home run in his first at bat let me know that everything was going to be ok and that order had returned to the universe with the return of America’s Past Time.
We had a short week, so let’s leave the article short. Every Friday, keep an eye out for This Week in Baseball!