Major League Roundup
Anaheim Angels: (Record: 22-10, Week: 7-0)
Even with a perfect week in which the Angels outscored their opponents 51-25, the outlook is bleak in Anaheim. Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon began the week on the disabled list and were soon joined by Darin Erstad. The bad news did not end there, however, and by week's end Jose Guillen suffered a sprained ankle and knee which could force him on to the DL as well. If they can't get healthy in a hurry, the Angels won't be able to maintain their lead in the AL West.
Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 16-12, Week: 4-2)
With Jerry Hairston returning soon, Brian Roberts must have felt that he needed more job security so he did what he does best. Run. In 24 at-bats this past week, Roberts had nine hits and eight stolen bases. On May 4 against the White Sox he had what may be the best game of his short career, going 3-4 with a walk, four runs scored, and four stolen bases. With Roberts' excellent play, there isn't much chance that the O's will be able to justify limiting his playing time.
Boston Red Sox: (Record: 19-12, Week: 4-3)
Entering the game on May 8, Pokey Reese averaged one home run every 65 at-bats for his career. On that day he hit one home run every two at-bats. In the fifth inning, Reese lined a ball down the first-base line that bounced around in the corner long enough to allow him to round the bases for an inside-the-park home run. In his next at-bat, in the sixth-inning, Reese drove one over the Green Monster in left to put the game out of reach. On that day at least, Reese was more than just a slick-fielding middle-infielder.
Chicago White Sox: (Record: 17-13, Week: 2-4)
Scott Schoeneweis has never been an All-Star pitcher but he has never been given the recognition as anything more than an average major leaguer. Since he began his ML run in 1999, his ERA has improved each season and this year has brought more of the same. On the season he is 3-1 with a 3.49 ERA in six starts. This week alone he tossed 14 innings and allowed just three runs on eight hits. Schoeneweis may not be an All-Star pitcher this year but he deserves some more credit than he gets. Maybe this is the year.
Cleveland Indians: (Record: 12-18, Week: 2-5)
Jody Gerut is in the middle of two impressive streaks. He currently has a 12-game hitting streak and a steak of 20 straight games reaching base. This week he hit .414, scored nine runs, drove in five runs, hit one home run and stole a base. Gerut has done a little of everything this year and hopes to continue to improve as the Indians build for the future.
Detroit Tigers: (Record: 15-16, Week: 2-4)
For the first time this season, the Tigers ended the week with a sub-.500 record. They still lead baseball in runs scored, barely ahead of the Angels and Rangers. However, now they have also allowed the most runs in the game. Their young pitching, including the two who are most prominent in Mike Maroth and Jeremy Bonderman, has not been able to maintain its hot start. Expect them to finish the season somewhere in between the two extremes, closer to the negative.
Kansas City Royals: (Record: 9-20, Week: 1-4)
For the second straight week, nothing went right for the Royals. Just one of their starters has a sub-4 ERA, second-year hurler Jimmy Gobble, two regulars have averages over .300, Carlos Beltran and Ken Harvey, and no one has been able to hold on to the closer role. The team that surprised everyone with their impressive play in 2003 hasn't been able to come close to that level of success this season.
Minnesota Twins: (Record: 17-13, Week: 2-4)
Acquired in the Eric Milton deal from the Philadelphia Phillies, Carlos Silva has been handed a spot in the rotation and has run with it. In six starts, he is 5-0 with a 3.43 ERA and has been even more impressive in his last three starts. In those three he is 3-0 and has allowed just four runs in 22.1 innings. He is known for his quick starts so he isn't likely to maintain this level, but he should remain a solid pitcher for the Twins as they push for the playoffs.
New York Yankees: (Record: 18-13, Week: 4-2)
Even though he never left, he's back. Alex Rodriguez entered the week hitting .255 with four home runs and seven RBI. He ended the week hitting .273 with seven home runs and 13 RBI. Until this season, he had spent his entire career in the AL West. After facing Oakland and Seattle this week, it appears that he just needed another dose of AL West pitching to get back on track.
Oakland Athletics: (Record: 15-16, Week: 3-3)
Barry Zito has one Cy Young award to his credit but thus far he hasn't even looked like a solid major league pitcher. Zito is just 2-3 with a 6.17 ERA and has already allowed eight home runs. On thing in his favor is that he has faced a very difficult schedule. He has faced Texas, Anaheim, and New York twice each in his six starts. Against each team he had one solid start and one start in which he was bombed. As the opposition gets easier, we will likely see Zito put up numbers closer to those we've seen from him in the past.
Seattle Mariners: (Record: 12-19, Week: 3-3)
Following a stretch in which they went 5-2, things were looking good for the Mariners. They were getting better pitching and hitting and it showed. However, game two against the Yankees changed that mood. The Yankees scored six runs in the sixth inning of that game to go on to win 6-0. One loss wouldn't have been a problem but it was followed up with another poor performance the next day in which the bullpen blew a 6-run lead. The M's now go into Minnesota and New York and need to get the ship completely turned around in a hurry.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 9-21, Week: 1-6)
With all of the young talent on the roster of the Devil Rays, who would have thought that their MVP thus far would be a 36-year old off-season acquisition? Tino Martinez came over from the Cardinals in a trade and took over at first base for a team that seemed to be building for the future. Martinez however, is not playing for the future. He's playing for the present and playing well. He is currently batting .289 with six home runs but has just 11 RBI because of the struggles of the rest of the players. The Devil Rays may run into some bad luck as he is sure to slow down, which may coincide with the rest of the team turning it up.
Texas Rangers: (Record: 19-12, Week: 3-3)
Second place Texas Rangers. That doesn't have quite the same ring to it as first place Texas Rangers. For a team that was the consensus pre-season favorite to finish last in the AL West, it must still be considered a success. Much of the success must be attributed to the offense of the players up the middle. Michael Young, Alfonso Soriano, and Laynce Nix are batting a combined .344 with 14 home runs and 41 total extra-base hits. The three have taken pressure off the two who may be the cornerstones of the future, Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira.
Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 13-18, Week: 5-1)
It took a month, but the Blue Jays are beginning to look like the team that showed so much promise last season. Vernon Wells broke out of his season-long slump with a two home run game, Carlos Delgado's average is on the rise, and Josh Phelps is again showing the power that he flashed in 2002. With Roy Halladay looking better, Ted Lilly blooming, and Terry Adams holding on to the closer role, you don't want to face the Jays right now.
Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 12-18, Week: 2-4)
Steve Finley has never hit .300 and has only driven in 100 runs once in his career. This season appears to be no different since he is hitting .254 with 17 RBI. However, Finley is on pace to set a career high in home runs. His career high is 35 which he set in 2000, and he hasn't hit more than 25 since. But being 39-years old hasn't stopped many players recently, and it may not stop Finley either.
Atlanta Braves: (Record: 14-16, Week: 2-4)
After missing nearly three weeks, Chipper Jones finally felt healthy enough to go on a rehab assignment to Single-A Rome. Jones, a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, had four at-bats… and no hits. Since his return to the majors he is hitless in six at-bats and has struck out four times. It may take him a few days to get back into a groove, but once he does he should get sent back to Single-A for a game or two and let those pitchers know that it really isn't that easy.
Chicago Cubs: (Record: 18-13, Week: 4-3)
Sammy Sosa may be on the verge of another power explosion this season. He has eight home runs which is a pretty solid amount, but that is not the indicator. His career high in doubles is 38 and he had just 19 and 22 the past two seasons. Already this year he has 10. He is on pace to shatter his career high, but it won't happen. With Sosa's strength, those doubles will quickly start turning into home runs and the pace will slow down as his home run total shoots up. He's currently far from the pace but don't at all be surprised to see Sosa hit 65 home runs this year.
Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 16-15, Week: 4-3)
Following a few injury-plagued years, Barry Larkin looks like he is back for at least one more solid campaign. He's currently hitting .304 with 19 runs scored and two stolen bases. He has a good chance to maintain this level for the year. We've seen players follow a few down seasons with a big year before calling it quits and we may be seeing it again in Larkin.
Colorado Rockies: (Record: 13-17, Week: 2-4)
Todd Helton, one of the league's best hitters and run-producers, has not gotten off to his typical hot start. Last season he drove in 27 runs in April but this April he drove in just 13. Much of that can be attributed to the injuries of Preston Wilson and Larry Walker. Helton has been pitched around often, especially with runners on base. He will surely top 100 RBI but with his fellow outfielders hurt, it may be a low-100.
Florida Marlins: (Record: 18-13, Week: 3-3)
It took a little while for him to get going, but Juan Pierre is back and up to his old tricks. Pierre's average dropped to as low as .222 on April 17, and he had no stolen bases through the same day. By the end of April he had his average up to .319 and stole six bases. He has continued that improved play and so far in May he has four stolen bases and has a .485 average. Pierre is still one of, if not the best leadoff hitter in the league.
Houston Astros: (Record: 20-11, Week: 5-2)
Jeff Kent is hitting in one of the best spots in the league, between Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman. He often gets up with runners on base and pitchers much throw him strikes so they don't have to face Berkman with more runners on. The veteran second baseman has taken full advantage of this situation. He is hitting .294 with six home runs, 25 RBI, and 23 runs scored. He could end up easily eclipsing his 2003 output.
Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 20-10, Week: 5-1)
Shawn Green may be pushing too hard to try to improve his home run total to get back to his career levels. His home run pace is back up, but his batting average has taken a significant hit. He is hitting just .252 with seven home runs. He has already hit three home runs in May but his average is down at .194. His total of 17 RBI is another example of his swinging for the fences and not getting the job done. The Dodgers will need him to get back to being the all-around solid hitter that he once was.
Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 15-16, Week: 3-3)
Lyle Overbay was acquired from Arizona as a part of the Richie Sexson deal but with the way he was playing, perhaps Sexson was acquired as part of the Overbay deal. Overbay is currently hitting .356, leads the league with 16 doubles, and is second with 31 RBI. His home run and RBI totals have already eclipsed his output for the entire 2003 season in less than half the at-bats. With Prince Fielder the first baseman of the future in Milwaukee, Overbay won't be around long but he will certainly be an attractive trade piece if he keeps this up.
Montreal Expos: (Record: 10-22, Week: 4-2)
This is the Terrmel Sledge that the Expos thought they would see when they handed him a starting outfield job. Sledge is hitting just .254 with two home runs and six RBI on the season but both home runs and five of the RBI have come this week. He is also hitting .500 for the week and has stolen a base. Expect him to maintain a high level of play throughout the season and make a push as a Rookie of the Year candidate.
New York Mets: (Record: 14-17, Week: 4-2)
On Wednesday, May 5, Mike Piazza sealed his fate. Now that he is the all-time leader in career home runs among catchers, Piazza should be regarded as the greatest hitting catcher of all time. The 62nd round pick (1390th overall) in 1988 was only drafted as a favor to Tommy Lasorda. But apparently, Lasorda wanted him to be drafted as a favor to the Dodgers organization and baseball as a whole.
Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 15-14, Week: 4-2)
You knew Bobby Abreu, a career .304 hitter, could not stay at that level for long. His average was down to .108 as late as April 20 but since then he has raised it to .256 and it is currently sitting at .243. Like almost every other Philly, Abreu has been struggling at the plate but has shown signs of life. When he, Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Placido Polanco (currently on the DL) begin hitting as they are able to, you don't want to face them.
Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 12-17, Week: 0-6)
When you go 0-6 for the week there aren't many high points to talk about. Instead, I'll take this space to tell you how just how underrated the Pirates are. With a little run-support, Kip Wells is a Cy Young candidate next year at the latest. Oliver Perez is 22 and showing signs of dominance. Jason Bay will challenge the 30/30 mark very quickly. Their farm system has some nice arms and they'll be getting another high pick this year. They may not have the future of the Brewers but they will be good, soon.
San Diego Padres: (Record: 19-13, Week: 3-3)
I mentioned this before but I'd like to again because it gets to me. Brian Lawrence has four wins with a 5.06 ERA. In two of those wins he allowed four and five runs in five innings, respectively. If he ends the season with more wins than Kip Wells it is just more proof how inaccurate and insignificant wins are when judging pitchers.
San Francisco Giants: (Record: 14-18, Week: 2-4)
Dustan Mohr was acquired by the Giants as a solid outfielder who could fill in anytime he is needed. They thought he would provide a solid bat that the team could use incase a regular went down. After April, the team had to seriously question that move. Mohr was hitting .042 at the end of the month, one hit in 24 at-bats. The team was losing faith in him and was considering sending him to Triple-A. Then came May and Mohr got a start. In that game he tripled his output of hits on the season. A few games later, he hit his first home run of the season. Mohr now has his average up to .161 and it should continue to climb as he and the team grows more confident.
St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 16-16, Week: 3-4)
No one was hotter than Scott Rolen was during the first three weeks of the season. He led the league in just about every category and looked unstoppable. Since then, he hasn't been quite as good, but I'll still take it without a problem. In May he is hitting .321 with eight RBI. He has yet to hit a home run this month but the power will begin to return soon as well. I'm still going to stand by my prediction that Rolen will lead the league in RBI and challenge for the league MVP.
Stat of the week:
Alfonso Soriano on May 8:
6 for 6, two 2B, one run, four RBI
In the 16-15 game between the Tigers and the Rangers, Soriano had three more hits than anyone else yet managed to score just one run. He either has the worst luck in the world of the Tigers only goal was to prevent Soriano from scoring. Perhaps Alan Trammell told his team, "Whatever we do, we can't let Soriano beat us!"
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