Twenty observations from an eventful opening three weeks
It's been an eventful first couple weeks, and here are my initial observations, suggestions, rumors, regrets and recriminations ...
Somehow, Ortiz has been even worse at the start of this season than he was at the beginning of last year. Through 11 games in 2009, Ortiz was batting .186 with a .275 on-base percentage and .209 slugging percentage, no home runs, four RBIs and 12 strikeouts; this year, he's hitting .146/.222/.268 with zero home runs, two RBIs and 17 strikeouts. But there's a big difference. Last year, all the other Red Sox started so well they could afford to carry Big Papi. That isn't the case this year. The Red Sox now have to guard against getting buried in a ridiculously tough division. The Yankees and Rays are everything everyone expected. But so far, the Red Sox are not.
Red Sox manager
From the very first swing of his career -- an Opening Day home run against the Cubs -- Heyward has been electrifying. Still just 20 years old, the kid who entered the season as
According to people who know both men, White Sox manager Guillen and general manager Williams are regularly engaged in heated dialogue and aren't exactly loving each other lately. Guillen, who's making more progress with his Twitter account than his team, and Williams, who's smart like Guillen and can be just as feisty, do love each other when they're winning. But not so much now that the White Sox are 5-11 and in last place in the AL Central, already six games out. It doesn't matter; they know they are stuck with each other for better or worse, like a marriage. They are both
After two wasted years in L.A. followed by a half-step back in Texas, Jones looks like his old self on the South Side of Chicago, batting .323 with four HRs. He's doing a lot of DHing for the offensively-challenged team, but he looked so good in spring training that one NL scout suggested Jones can still play center field close to the way he did as a perennial Gold Glover with the Braves and may be wasted as DH.
Whatever you think their record will be, they usually do 10 games better. Sure, they gave up their beloved Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. And sure, they lost their supposedly indispensable closer,
The "best team in the National League,'' one GM already declared. Which should come as no surprise. They've got a lot going for them, even with rotation, bullpen and injury questions early.
That's what one GM told me this spring. After basically flipping a coin I took
After failing to live up to much of the hype that has accompanied him at the start of his career, the Mets'
Scouts say Wright appears to be bailing against right-handers. They aren't sure whether it's related to the beaning he suffered last year against Giants' hard-throwing righty Matt Cain, but Wright was flinching after that, so it can't be ruled out. Wright still looks terrific vs. left-handers (.308 vs. lefties vs. .212 vs. righties), but unfortunately for him, there aren't as many of those. Compounding Wright's early struggles is
Their run differential is a negative 55. Yet if they win tonight they'll be 8-8 and might be the most undeserving .500 team ever. In getting outscored 36-1 in a three-game sweep against Milwaukee, including 20-0 on Thursday, the Pirates didn't even look like they belonged on the same field with the Brewers, a much better team that's somehow only one game over .500 at 8-7.
The former No. 2 draft choice overall came to camp determined to have a big season after an injury spoiled his fast start last year, and he is making the most of it. He's hitting .327 with three homers and 11 RBIs, and it looks like Brewers coach and former All-Star
At lest three Yankees came to camp in appreciably better shape --
...and some of the others in Seattle's rotation sometimes look like royalty, too. The Mariners are trying to steal a winnable division with pitching and defense, and they could do it. Even with big winter pickup
Piniella pulled a shocker by moving
One of the best ever pick-ups for nothing, Cantu was once inexplicably released by the Rays. The Marlins, one of the smarter teams around, pounced a couple years back. Cantu set a record for most games with an RBI to start a year and is batting .300 with four home runs and 18 RBIs while dedicating his start to the new team that saved him from the scrap heap. Nice touch.
Everyone thought the $7.5-million deal was an obvious overpay at the time. But Penny (2-0, 1.29),
This pair of $126-million men may shed their tags as nine-figure busts if they keep this up. Zito (2-0, 1.86 ERA) and Wells (.364, 7 HRs, 12 RBIs) may never prove to be worth those monstrous deals, especially after both struggled mightily in the first few years after signing those contracts. But they are finally performing again at an All-Star level.
The Indians outfielder is one of the more unheralded stars in the game. He is hitting .313 with four home runs and 13 RBIs and was a fitting winner of the first Player of the Week award in the AL.
• Current Rangers owner
• Outgoing Padres owner
• Former Braves outfielder (and one-time NFL player)
• The Rays are wise to lock up versatile star
• Yankees GM