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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Monday, April 10, 2006

Recapping Week 1

The first week of baseball season has come and gone. It's impossible to take any meaningful observations from such a small sample size, but there are a few things that are noteworthy.

* Jimmy Rollins hit streak ended so Joltin' Joe can rest easy. This was something I was rooting for for a number of different reasons. Most notably is the fact that I didn't want such a revered record beloning to one of the all-time greats being broken by a slightly above average hitter like Rollins. I also didn't relish listening to the countless number of debates in bars and ballparks over whether or not it's more difficult to put together a streak in one season or over the span of two seperate seasons. Now that this streak is ended, I don't believe the topic will come up again for quite sometime. Of the notable MLB records, I think only Cal Ripken's 2,362 consecutive games played will be more difficult to break.

* Before the season started I had pegged Chris Shelton as a possible breakout player for 2006 based on his .299/.360/.510 line from his 388 ABs a year ago. But not even I would have predicted Shelton to go yard 5 times in his first 4 games. In all fairness he was facing the Rangers pitching staff in a hitters park, but the numbers are still impressive. According to Baseball Tinght, only 2 players have ever matched taht feat in the history of baseball, Lou Brock and Barry Bonds. They finshed the year with 21 and 42 homers, respectively. So I thinks it's safe to say that Shelton has a real shot at the 30 homerun mark - give or take a few.

* The Braves run of dominating pitching staffs looks like it could be ending this year - and the division title might follow. Like I said, it's still ridiculous to draw any real conclusions from a week of baseball, but the staff didn't look good on paper going into the year. Smoltz is an injury risk, as is Hudson. Sosa, despite his 2.55 ERA last year is nothing more than an average pitcher who'd probably be better served in the bullpen. Horacio Ramirez has been given as many chances to prove he can pitch as Daryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden have been given to prove they can stay off drugs. Both scenarios will end in the same result.

* Bonds is hitting .167 with no homeruns, yet he's been walked 7 times already. It seems to me that teams should pitch to him for the first couple weeks to find out if he knee is healthy enough for him to be the offensive force he's been in the past. If he kills you, so be it. But don't give this guy a free pass based on his last 5 years. You've got to find out if he can hit this year.

* The Brewers should be a fun team to watch with the young infield of Fielder, Hardy, and Weeks. Fielder gets teh publicity because of his namesake but I think the other 2 are going to better players - this year and in the future.

* The Yankees can hit. The Twins can't.

* Thome can still crush it when he's healthy.

* So can Scott Rolen

* In 3 years, the Marlins trades this offseason will look great.

* I'm already sick of the Red Sox and Yankees.

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