Monday, April 20, 2015

Week Two Points and Highlights

Week two of the MLB season is in the books here are a few things that stood out to me:

- Kris Bryant Gets The Call Up
Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant finally got the callup to the big league team on April 17th (which happens to be the anniversary of Mickey Mantle's debut in 1951) and proceeds to go 0-4 in with three strikeouts against the San Diego Padres. What does that mean? Not a damn thing. Chalk his debut to nerves. Bryant finished the weekend batting .300 with three hits including a double. He showed plate discipline by walking three times and only striking out four times, with three of those in the first game he played in. I think Bryant will be fine as long as people realize that he is indeed only 23-years of age.

The expectations by the Cubs faithful need to stay realistic. Winning will take time with the young team they have. They need to do things taking baby steps at first and then developing into a winning team. That takes time and patience. I mean the Cubs haven't won a World Series in over 100-years. What's waiting a few more to get it done right.

- Red Sox’s Rusney Castillo Sidelined Indefinitely With Shoulder Injury
While the buzz is high in Chicago with the promotion of prospect Kris Bryant, the buzz is down with Boston's phenom Rusney Castillo. The word on Castillo wasn't if he was getting called up but when. To the point that on a recent ESPN broadcast, the analysts were debating on which current Boston Red Sox outfielder would become the odd-man out when the eventual call-up was made.

Now the word from Beantown is that Castillo has been shut down due to a shoulder injury. According to the article Red Sox’s Rusney Castillo Sidelined Indefinitely With Shoulder Injury by Ricky Doyle from NESN dated April 14, 2015, Castillo's had an An MRI which revealed only inflammation and no structural damage in Castillo’s right shoulder.

Unlike the aforementioned Bryant who is under contractual control by the Cubs at a bargain rookie rate, Castillo is not. Castillo was signed last August by the Red Sox as a free agent at the tune of seven-year, $72.5 million dollars. While I'm sure there are many a member of the Boston faithful wondering if the Bosox will get their money's worth from Castillo, patience needs to be shown. This injury didn't come through negligence. It came while on the field.

- Alex Rodriguez's Performance
I had a brief discussion about this early last week. It really is hard to root for Alex Rodriguez. For years I rooted for him. I felt that he had hit rock bottom with his admission of PED use in 2009 and that he a reached redemption with his performance coming back from injury and helping the Yankees win the 2009 World Series. But the shenanigans from the last few years including those that led to a circus of a hearing which led to a year long suspension really soured me on him. The joke among Yankees fans was that Derek Jeter was retiring to avoid the A-Rod media circus that would start upon his reinstatement for the 2015 season. But I have to admit, throughout Spring Training and in the first two weeks of the season, A-Rod has been an exemplary and productive member of the team.

He's played everywhere manager Joe Girardi has asked him to play and he has been very productive at the plate, showing flashes of plate discipline and the powerful swing that propelled him to the superstar level in MLB. A-Rod finished this weekend with a slash line of .316/.447/.711 with 12 hits in 38 at-bats including three doubles and four home runs. He does have 15 strikeouts but also 9 walks so he is showing discipline at the plate.

Perhaps A-Rod has gotten tired of the media circus and the drama that he seems to bring upon himself. Maybe he can redeem himself with a productive end to his illustrious and disappointing career, walking off into the sunset with his head held high.

- Defending Champs Losing Ways
Giants' fans are wondering what has happened to their three time World Series Champions. The Gigantes have had a bit of a rough stretch in terms of both injuries to vital players and in games lost. Its best to have a losing streak in April rather than one in September. I know many like to invoke the "Odd Year Curse" for the Giants. In case you don't know what that is, since 2010, the Giants have won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 with a second place 86-76 season in 2011 and a fourth place 76-86 season in 2013. Both odd year seasons resulted in no post-season appearance for the Gigantes. Now if you believe in that sort of thing, then you might as well stop watching now. Even thought the NL West is reloaded for bear this season, the 2015 campaign is only two weeks in. So climb off the ledge fans of the Gigantes and have faith in your team.

- Mike Trout becomes the youngest player to 100 homers and 100 stolen bases
Trout reached the 100 homers/100 stolen base plateau this past Friday night. In doing so, he became the youngest player to do so. at 23-years and 251-days old, he eclipsed the aforementioned Alex Rodriguez who was the prior fastest to 100 homers/100 stolen bases. Rodriguez did so at 23-years 309-days old in 1999. According to Alden Gonzalez in his article Trout Smashes 100th Career Home Run from dated April 17, 2015, Trout is the second player in Angels history with triple digits in homers and steals. The other Angel is Darren Erstad who had 114 homers and 170 stolen bases.

Trout had a 30/30 season in 2012 with 30 homers/49 stolen bases and narrowly missed another 30/30 season in 2013 with 27 homers/33 stolen bases. Last season Trout's stolen base production dropped significantly as he became a major run producer. He had 36 homers with only 16 stolen bases. Will Trout utilize his speed more this season to try and steal more bases or will he just focus on driving in runs with his power. That will remain to be seen.

- The Kansas City Royals Finally Lose
And in the most surprising news of the fledgling 2015 season, the American League Champion Kansas City Royals had their hopes for a 162-0 season dashed in a loss against the Minnesota Twins. The same way I tell Giants fans to just chill out about their team losing, I need to tell the same thing to those jumping off the Royals bandwagon after not only losing one game against the Twins, but losing two games and the series to the Twinkies.

Its good that the Royals are feisty (having a bench clearing incident against Mike Trout and the Angels) and are winning games but let's be honest. Its only two weeks in. Historically, how many teams have gone undefeated in the first week or two of the season and not make the playoffs. Probably quite a few. I'm not saying this is what will happen to the Royals. But eight straight wins is only roughly 5% of the games played in the season. There are WAY too many games to be played to stress out. They are playing good ball. Enjoy it!!! We'll check back and see where they are in June.

I know some Mets' fans will take me to task for not mentioning their current run. I don't want to jinx the Metropolitanos. I promise to mention them in the post for the third week of the Major League season.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco