Major League Roundup

While baseball is a source of pain in cities like Seattle and San Francisco so far this season, it's all there is to talk about in places like Houston and Boston. InsidethePark's Ian Levin heads around the majors this week, bringing you the good news and the bad in another edition of his Major League Roundup.

Anaheim Angels: (Record: 25-13, Week: 3-3)
With Troy Glaus shut down yet again with an injured shoulder, the Angels have turned to Chone Figgins to fill his shoes at third base. Figgins wouldn't be able to match Glaus' home run output if he were playing in a little league field but he can provide the Angels with something Glaus can't and that is speed. Even though he did not steal a base this past week, he has nine on the season to go along with his .330 batting average. Figgins isn't your typical third baseman but the Angels could do worse in replacing Glaus.

Baltimore Orioles: (Record: 18-16, Week: 2-4)
Daniel Cabrera made his major league debut on May 13 against the Chicago White Sox and was very impressive. The 6-foot-7 righty allowed just two hits and three walks in six scoreless innings to earn a win. Even with that impressive performance, the Orioles were considering skipping his turn in the rotation but they have decided against it. His next start will come May 18 against Seattle.

Boston Red Sox: (Record: 22-16, Week: 3-4)
Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and… Bronson Arroyo? With Byung Hyun Kim struggling the Red Sox have turned to Arroyo to fill out their rotation and he has been impressive. In his most recent start he threw eight shutout innings and allowed just three hits while walking six. On the season, Arroyo has a 3.53 ERA and has struck out 29 in 35.2 innings pitches.

Chicago White Sox: (Record: 20-16, Week: 3-3)
The White Sox were lucky to get two starts from Mark Buehrle this week as he was solely responsible for two of their wins. Buehrle did not allow a run in 13.2 innings. He struck out the same number of base runners he allowed, 13. Buehrle's overall numbers aren't overly impressive but he is off to a much better start than last season. He now has three wins with a 3.99 ERA and 1.37 WHIP.

Cleveland Indians: (Record: 17-19, Week: 5-1)
With Joe Mauer in the same division, Victor Martinez is often overshadowed. Looking at his success it is easy to forget that he's just 25 years old. Looking at that success, however, and its easy to see why his future is so bright. On the season, Martinez is hitting .278 with six home runs and has driven in 27. He is now consistently hitting in the cleanup spot in the lineup and proving that he belongs.

Detroit Tigers: (Record: 18-19, Week: 3-3)
Many doubted the Ivan Rodriguez signing, saying that the catcher was too old to maintain his level of production. At age 33, Rodriguez appears to be on the top of his game. "Pudge" is hitting .359 with seven home runs and 32 RBI. The excellent level of play could be partially attributed to the time he is getting at DH, allowing him a break from the rigors of catching.

Kansas City Royals: (Record: 11-24, Week: 2-4)
The one Royal who has had any type of solid week was Joe Randa. Randa hit .381 over the past seven days, with a home run, double, triple, and four RBI. Only one of the bigger offensive threats hit even .200 this week, with Juan Gonzalez hitting .250. Carlos Beltran hit .182, Mike Sweeney and Ken Harvey hit .190, and Angel Berroa hit .087. The Royals need to get the ship turned around in a hurry if they wish to get back into contention and not be forced to deal Beltran.

Minnesota Twins: (Record: 22-14, Week: 5-1)
Joe Nathan had not only a great week for the Twins, but also a great week for his confidence. After some shaky outings early in the year and one recently, Nathan needed to get back on track and he couldn't have done it in a better way. Nathan was four for four in save opportunities this week. In those four innings he struck out five and did not allow a single batter to reach base. Nathan is now 12 for 13 in save opportunities on the season.

New York Yankees: (Record: 22-15, Week: 4-2)
Until this week, Bernie Williams was looking every bit of his 35-years old. Some said he lost a step and his bat has slowed down significantly. This week, however, Williams showed that he still has something left in the tank. In 20 at-bats, Williams hit .400 with two home runs, three doubles, five RBI and seven runs scored. Williams will need to have many more similar weeks if he is to get his .228 season average back up to par.

Oakland Athletics: (Record: 20-17, Week: 5-1)
Bobby Crosby, like Bernie Williams, had been underperforming his expectations until this week. Crosby's .364 batting average this week only brought his season average up to .221. Unlike Williams, Crosby's best years are yet to come and it must be kept in mind that he is just a rookie. He is filling the position that Miguel Tejada vacated, but he is not yet ready to fill his shoes.

Seattle Mariners: (Record: 13-24, Week: 1-5)
Finally, it appears that the real Joel Pineiro has returned. After an ugly opening to the season, Pineiro has posted back-to-back strong outings. Pineiro has allowed four runs on 15 runners in his last two starts, covering 15 innings. Pineiro appears to have regained his command and his consistency. Expect his ERA for the rest of the season to be closer to his current May ERA, 3.00, than his April ERA of 8.33.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: (Record: 10-26, Week: 1-5)
As has been the story throughout the season, one of the few solid contributors for the D-Rays this week was Carl Crawford. His .300 average matches his .300 average for the season. His four stolen bases increased his season total to 18 and he is up to 24 runs scored. Crawford is just 23 and has almost all of the tools of the ideal lead-off hitter. If he is able to improve his on-base percentage, he'll have all the necessary skills.

Texas Rangers: (Record: 22-15, Week: 3-3)
Hank Blalock had an interesting week. In his 24 at-bats, he had four hits, all being home runs. His average is just .167 but his slugging percentage is at .667. His season numbers, including his average, remain outstanding. He is hitting .297 with 10 home runs and 23 total extra-base hits, 29 RBI, and 27 runs scored. Like Crawford, Blalock is just a few walks away from having all the tools you could ask for.

Toronto Blue Jays: (Record: 16-22, Week: 3-4)
The Blue Jays received some very disappointing news this week when it was revealed that their top prospect, pitcher Dustin McGowan, will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season. McGowan may have made the majors towards the end of this season but with this major set-back, he probably won't be up until at least 2006. This is a big hit to a team that expected to be competitive as soon as next year.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (Record: 14-23, Week: 2-5)
Luis Gonzalez began the week with a bang. And then another and another. In his first three at-bats on the week, Gonzalez hit three home runs. In that game he had two more opportunities to hit his fourth home run but failed to do so. The rest of the week wasn't very kind to him either as he had just three hits in 16 at-bats. His line for the week looks solid but when broken down, that was hardly the case.

Atlanta Braves: (Record: 17-19, Week: 3-3)
Sometimes, as a reliever, being in the right situation at the right time is all it takes. Relievers don't often get wins and its very rare to get multiple wins in the same week. However, Antonio Alfonseca pitched in just three games this week but recorded two wins. His 3.1 perfect innings kept the Braves in situations where they could come back, and they did so, rewarding Alfonseca for his efforts. He already has five wins on the season, more than any other Braves pitcher.

Chicago Cubs: (Record: 22-15, Week: 4-2)
Even though he has yet to cost the Cubs a win this season, going a perfect seven for seven in save opportunities, Joe Borowski's job security took a hit this week. LaTroy Hawkins filled in as the closer twice this week and recorded two saves. Some believed he could not handle save situations but after his performance this week, it may take just one blown save from Borowski for a change to be made.

Cincinnati Reds: (Record: 20-17, Week: 4-2)
Up and down and up again. Paul Wilson's season thus far has been extremely inconsistent. His first two starts were outstanding. He allowed just one run in 14.1 innings pitched. In his next four starts, he posted an ERA of 7.59 and in his latest two starts his ERA has been 1.93. For the season, Wilson has a 3.99 ERA and an amazing five wins. His can maintain an ERA around 4.00, but his win-loss record won't keep up its current pace.

Colorado Rockies: (Record: 15-21, Week: 2-4)
Coors Field is at it again. Jeromy Burnitz has always shown good power but has never had a batting average above .281. With over 20 percent of the season complete, Burnitz is hitting .302 and his average has been on the rise. This past week, Burnitz hit .522 along with his usual power, three home runs. When Preston Wilson and Larry Walker return to the lineup, Burnitz may see more hittable pitches and improve his average even more. Scary.

Florida Marlins: (Record: 21-16, Week: 3-3)
After starting out on a remarkable hot streak, Hee Seop Choi has been equally as cold. Choi is hitless in his last five games and has eight strikeouts in his last 12 at-bats. He has not hit a home run since April 30 and has just four hits since then. He still does not have a double on the season, yet he has picked up his first triple. Choi is now hitting just .224 on the season but he has a respectable .865 OPS. He should regain his form soon.

Houston Astros: (Record: 22-15, Week: 2-4)
He started a game and he didn't win. That is almost more remarkable than what has done to open the season. It took a home run by Mike Piazza in the ninth inning to cost Roger Clemens his eighth win in eight starts. Instead, Clemens is a poor 7-0 with a 1.72 ERA. He has 62 strikeouts against 50 base runners in 52.1 innings. He did retire, didn't he?

Los Angeles Dodgers: (Record: 22-14, Week: 2-4)
After looking human in mid-April, Eric Gagne is again pitching like the unhittable Cy Young award winner of 2003. His ERA is now at 1.59 and he has allowed just 12 runners in 17 innings. The one number that is not yet Gagne-like is his strikeout rate. He has just 21 strikeouts in those 17 innings. Last season he averaged 28 strikeouts per 17 innings. However, since he allowed his last run, his strikeout rate is back up to normal. His consecutive saves streak may reach 100 and it won't even be a top story. That's how amazing he has been, it's almost expected.

Milwaukee Brewers: (Record: 19-18, Week: 4-2)
Not often do you see a pitcher with three years of experience set a new career-high in strikeouts in a game by breaking his old mark by eight. Ben Sheets did that on May 16 in an amazing performance against the Braves. Sheets struck out 18 Braves, the fifth-most strikeouts in a single game in National League history. Sheets always had the promise of an ace starter and now, at age 26, he may be ready to fulfill it.

Montreal Expos: (Record: 13-25, Week: 3-3)
Since Livan Hernandez altered his arm angle last season, he went from a solid starter to a true number one. Since July of last year, Hernandez has had an ERA of 2.51 in 197 innings pitched. He's had just one start that lasted less than six innings and 13 of eight innings or more. He is one of the more unheralded pitchers in the league.

New York Mets: (Record: 18-20, Week: 4-3)
A month and two days after Cliff Floyd hurt his hamstring running out a single, he made his return to the Mets lineup. He came back at the right time, just as the Mets were going through one of the roughest five-game stretches of any team all season. They were to face Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettite, and Roger Clemens. They won four of those five games, amazingly. The win against Roy Oswalt can be attributed to Floyd and his well-timed grand slam. Now if Jose Reyes can make it back…

Philadelphia Phillies: (Record: 19-16, Week: 4-2)
Just 10 days ago, Jimmy Rollins was hitting .180 and had just seven runs scored. Since then, he and the rest of the Phillies have turned things around. The Phillies have gone 7-2 and Rollins has raised his average to .231 while doubling his runs scored output. If you look back a few weeks, you'll see that I said that the Phillies will need Rollins and Marlon Byrd to get back on track in order to improve their record… It's happening.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (Record: 17-18, Week: 5-1)
Rob Mackowiak was expected to be a solid bench player for the Pirates but with players struggling and Raul Mondesi's court problems, he has taken over a starting role and is forcing the Pirates to keep him there. Mackowiak is hitting just .259 but has already hit seven home runs and stolen three bases. His best asset, which should allow him to remain in the lineup, is his versatility. He can play any outfield position as well as third base. If Chris Stynes doesn't hit better soon, Mackowiak could knock him to the bench.

San Diego Padres: (Record: 21-17, Week: 2-4)
It is not Petco Park, but it may be his attitude towards it. Ryan Klesko is a very solid power hitter yet he has hit just one home run on the season. Brian Giles, another lefty in San Diego's lineup, has hit six home runs and has shown that the park does not eliminate all power from the left side of the plate. Klesko may need to get it going soon or the Padres may get a bit impatient.

San Francisco Giants: (Record: 15-23, Week: 1-5)
Pedro Feliz has been the best hitter for the Giants not named Barry Bonds. He showed signs of power last year when he hit 16 home runs and this year he already has seven to go along with his .295 average. With the versatility that Feliz has and the struggles of other members of the Giants' lineup, there should be no problem in getting him playing time every day.

St. Louis Cardinals: (Record: 20-18, Week: 4-2)
Following his return from shoulder surgery, Chris Carpenter was expected to be solid, but perhaps not this good this soon. Carpenter's ERA sits at 3.86 but that is inflated a bit thanks to a rough start. In his last start, he was nearly unhittable. He lasted 7.1 shutout innings and allowed just six batters to reach base. He looks like a solid option for the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Stat of the week:
Milwaukee's bottom of the 9th:
Two walks, three singles and one double all coming with two outs and no one on. Geoff Jenkins' home run with one out combined with the two out blitz allowed the Brewers to come back from five runs down in the ninth and go on to win in the 14th inning.

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