By OTC Contributor James Sargent
Austin Jackson: Last week, I featured rookie outfielder, Jason Heyward, and this week will include another rookie outfielder, Austin Jackson. Jackson is leading the MLB in hits with 40 and is putting up an early case for AL Rookie of the Year. He has racked up seven multi-hit efforts in his last nine games, going 19-for-39 with 10 runs and two steals, a prolific stretch that has more than justified the hype surrounding the 23-year-old who came over from the Yankees in the trade for Curtis Granderson. Look for this to become the norm for Jackson in Motown.
David Freese: Another rookie makes the cut now that he is starting to break out. Cardinals infielder, David Freese, is now 11-for-18 with three homers, and 10 RBIs over his last four games. The 27-year-old rookie is batting .355, and makes a great pickup right now in you need help in a very shallow third base position. He will definitely keep getting RBI opportunities with Cardinals’ studs, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, getting on base ahead of him.
Robinson Cano: It’s been quite a first month for second baseman, Robby Cano, who’s batting .387 with nine jacks, 21 RBIs and 23 runs. He is one of many catalysts in a very potent Yankees lineup that strikes fear in the hearts of all. Cano gets my vote for best second baseman in the league. He is in his prime and will give you just as much defensive effort as he does on the offensive side. If you have a surplus of players in one position and need a better second baseman, trade for Cano.
Carlos Lee: A month has now past and Carlos Lee has yet to homer. What’s the deal? Well, first off, the Astros suck. They are currently on a six game losing streak and it doesn’t look like they will rebound from the horrid start they had to the season. As for Lee, he is batting .191 and has only driven in five runs. Awful. Personally, I would drop him because there are many other outfielders you can rely on than him. However, if you can shop him for a guy with upside, do it since not much help is on the way for the ‘Stros.
Victor Martinez: Victor Martinez had a decent first couple games to the season but has now tapered off to a measly .233 batting average. He is taking games off regularly and Varitek is making the most of it. If Boston wants a shot at the AL East, Martinez needs to step it up and get out of this current funk he is in. Boston’s fears should calm down a bit, but Martinez should bounce back and round into form as the season goes on. Hold on, owners.
Aramis Ramirez: Cubs third baseman, Aramis Ramirez, is in the midst of a 5-for-25 homestand and only has one of those hits went for extra bases. He’s hitting .155 with three homeruns and 14 RBIs, and hasn’t homered since April 15. Be patient with the 31-year-old slugger, hopefully he will turn it around. If not, bite the bullet and move on.
Francisco Liriano: Liriano was marvelous today as he went seven strong with three earned runs and nine strikeouts, improving his record to 4-0. He has a dazzling 1.50 ERA on the season and is turning into the ace he was a couple of years back. He has currently won his last four starts and looks to do the same when he pitches again later this week.
Brandon Morrow: If you look at the season stats for Brandon Morrow, nothing jumps out at you except for his strikeouts. He has tallied 33 strikeouts in just five games started. His last start against the Athletics was a dandy one. He pitched six innings with two earned runs and nine strikeouts to record the victory. The Blue Jays have had a surprisingly decent start to the season and sit third in the very difficult AL East behind the red hot Rays and the Yankees. Morrow has pitched very well in his past three starts and is starting to make it a habit. If you need a spot starter, look to Morrow.
Ubaldo Jimenez: Jimenez has earned a win in his first five starts of the season, while also throwing a no-no against the Braves. The 26-year-old flame thrower is posting a 0.79 ERA and has recorded 31 strikeouts on the season. Jimenez has boosted himself into elite status in the National League and is still not even considered in his prime. His only downfall so far, is his lack of control, with 14 walks in five games. At this point, even trading a guy like Josh Johnson would be a good deal for Ubaldo.
Josh Beckett: Beckett has given up 17 runs in his past three starts. Granted, his start today was pretty good, he still received a no decision against the Orioles. For the season, Beckett is 1-0 with a 6.31 ERA. His win was picked up in his second start, which followed a disastrous start to the season against the Yankees. Along with Victor Martinez, Beckett needs to get his groove on and start winning some games for this Red Sox bunch to be in contention for the AL East.
Javier Vazquez: Vazquez has been awful in his second go around with the Yankees. He has yet to log a quality start in the Bronx and I don’t care that he has a win on the season. His longest game lasted five and two-thirds innings and the least amount of runs he has surrendered has been three. His ERA is also a monstrous 9.78 and his mechanics have been all out of whack. Was last year a fluke with the Braves, or will those starts finally appear for the man in pinstripes? As a strikeout pitcher in a flyball park, do not expect much of a return out of Vazquez, and if there is a buyer out there, hand him over.
Jake Peavy: The former CY Young award winning pitcher does not have his best stuff so far for the White Sox. His blistering 7.85 is a career low, granted it has only been five games. Peavy is blaming his early-season troubles on his lower-body delivery. Since the ankle surgery he received, he has not been able to use his legs like he used to. He plans to correct his motion and see if his pitching gets better as the season moves on.