Monday, April 27, 2015

Week Three Points and Highlights

Week Three of the 2015 season is in the books and here are a few things I came across.

- Nelson Cruz
The other day I posted the following tweet:
I think I have to amend that tweet. With every homerun Nelson Cruz hits, the entire Seattle Mariners team's smiles get bigger and bigger. What a difference a year makes.

Last season I made mention that while I understood why Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, I questioned the decision since he would not have much in the way of protection in the lineup. Well, things change this season with the offseason signing of Nelson Cruz. Again, what a difference a year makes.

Last season, Cruz signed for a budget $8-million with the Orioles coming off a 50-games suspension resulting from the Biogenesis scandal and put up an MVP caliber season for the Orioles. Now Cruz is batting after Cano in a lineup that is re-markedly improved along with a solid rotation. For the season Cruz is putting up a slash line of .324/.361/.750 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. So far the M's are sitting tied for 4th place at 7-11 with the surprising Houston Astros sitting pretty a-top the American League West 11-7. I can see the Mariners righting the ship and starting to club the ball. We'll see what happens as the season moves along.

- How About Those New York Mets
I mentioned that last week I would talk about the Metropolitanos. Well, the Mets ripped off an 11-game win streak including a 10-0 homestand against division rivals Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves. In doing so, the Mets tied a franchise record set by the 1969, 1972, 1986, and 1990 who all put up 11-game winning streaks. It stopped at 11-games when the Mets lost the first game of the Subway Series against the Yankees.

What I find impressive is that the Mets have done so without a number of players including captain David Wright and starting catch Travis D'Arnaud who both are missing time on the DL. In their place is Eric Campbell and rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki and both are producing. And what can I say about The Dark Knight: Matt Harvey. Its hard to believe that Harvey missed a season to Tommy John surgery. This kid is a total stud.

So far he's gone 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA with 22 hits allowed, 31 strikeouts and only 3 walks for a WHIP of 0.94. His swagger and confidence seems to be slowly seeping into the entire team. As Travis D'Arnaud said during the Mets vs. Yankees telecast on ESPN, the team believes that they can will. Who knows, if they can continue to win as division rivals Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins struggle, the N.L. East might just be their's to lose.

- A brief history of the Mets' eleven-game winning streaks by Chris McShane from Amazin

- Didi Gregorious and Tino Martinez
People fail to realize that it is very difficult to step in the shoes of a Baseball legend. Some might say that it is even harder when the legend plays for the New York Yankees. I notice that Yankee fans are being critical of Didi Gregorious' performance so far with the Yankees at shortstop. Not only is he learning a new league, he's doing it in the long shadow of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

Look at the back page of the New York Daily News the day after the Yankees traded for Gregorious. Just the headline alone shows the expectations that have been placed on Gregorious. And this was before the season started and Gregorious was struggling. The situation reminds me of how Tino Martinez struggled at first base for the New York Yankees at the beginning of the 1996 season.

Martinez was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Yankees in a December 7, 1995 trade with Jim Mecir and Jeff Nelson for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchock. Martinez was already a solid first-basemen for the Mariners and similarly to Gregorious, his performance at first was shadowed by recently retired career Yankees legend Don Mattingly. Again, as with Gregorious, Martinez struggled amid great and lofty expectations but as the season progressed, he settled in and was a main player in the 1996 Yankees World Series Championship season.

People need to give Gregorious a chance. I mean a REAL chance. Not a month. Not two months. At the very least give the kid a full season to show his mettle. He's not going to be Derek Jeter. We've already seen him play. We just need to see Didi Gregorious play his game. Maybe he excels. Maybe he becomes the Yankees version of Royce Clayton.
who had the dubious honor of having to replace Ozzie Smith at shortstop for the Cardinals in 1997).

Nearly 20 Years Later, Another Yankees Replacement Is Struggling by Billy Witz from the New York Times dated April 18, 2015

- Waino done for the season?
The news coming out of St. Louis is not good. Reports state that Adam Wainright was placed on the DL with an left ankle/achilles tendon injury. If he tore the achilles tendon, his season is done. The Cardinals always seem to be able to fill spots due to injuries and according to the article Martinez, Wacha and Lynn Allow Cardinals to Absorb Adam Wainwright Injury by Anthony Witrado from Bleacher Report dated April 25, 2015, Witrado believes that:
There might not be a team in Major League Baseball more equipped to absorb the blow of losing their ace right now than the Cardinals. They have a rotation packed with front-line pitchers in their 20s, and all three of them have sub-2.00 ERAs through each of their first three starts this season.
Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez—both 23 years old—and Lance Lynn, 27, have helped Wainwright pitch the Cardinals to a 12-4 record. Those four are the reasons the rotation led the majors with a 2.06 ERA entering Saturday, a number lowered to 1.97 by Wainwright's four shutout innings before the injury.
It would seem that Cole Hamels would be a suitable replacement for Wainwright in the rotation. The question is, are the Cardinals willing to trade from their surplus of prospects in order to get Hamels. Since in this situation, the Phillies hold the seller's advantage, the Cardinals might have to overpay if they want Hamels services. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see what happens after Wainwright's MRI.

AS OF 7:30PM ON 4/27: Adam Wainwright was diagnosed with a torn left achilles tendon which will cause him to miss 9-12 months. 

- Kansas City Royals are a-fighting
So the Royals have started the 2015 season with three bench clearing incidents. Week one had Yordano Ventura jawing with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Then in week two you had a back and forth plunking matches and three straight days of bench clearing between the Royals and the Oakland A's including Yordano Ventura getting ejected when he hit Brett Lawrie with a pitch after Josh Reddick homered. Week three was capped with a full blown brawl started by words being exchanged between Yordano Ventura and Adam Eaton of the Chicago White Sox which led to the suspension of six players including Ventura who was given a seven day suspension.

You see a pattern here? Like I told my friend Melvin the other day: Ventura is young, full of piss and vinegar. I mean, he's become the ace of the staff after James Shields signed with the San Diego Padres. So he must be on cloud nine and is showing his swagger every start. But he needs to dial it down before someone gets hurt.

This is where old time baseball people bemoan the DH since retribution can't be exacted on the guilty party. I think if this was in the NL, Ventura would be a bit more cautious in his plunking of opposing players and his excitable mannerism. Back in the day, he would have taken one to the ribs. I know the Royals want to show the entire league that their World Series appearance was not a fluke. But someone needs to take Ventura aside and let him know that not only is an opposing player at risk of getting hurt due to his behavior, a fellow teammate can get hurt through Baseball's form of retribution. Whether he learns or not is something we'll have to keep an eye on after he serves his suspension.

Well that's all for this week. I'll be back next week with my POV on the fourth week of the MLB season.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco