Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Why The Longoria Faces?

Monday, April 04, 2011


We are three or four games into the season. Already the Mets are being mocked (on their own telecast, no less). The Rangers offense is blasting off. The Rays offense can't get untracked and just lost Evan Longoria (out three weeks, strained oblique). The Baltimore Orioles are undefeated and their young aces look bullet proof.

Have we really learned anything though? We already knew the Mets might have a rough season this year, and that the Rangers position players (Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz each had three homers in three days) enjoy that home park. We knew that the Rays lost a little 'O' when Carl Crawford left town, and we knew the Orioles had some nice young arms in Brian Matusz (out three to six with a strained intercostal), Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and Jake Arrietta.

But we should also remember that we are merely three or four games into the season. The Mets have some nice parts to watch - R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Ike Davis and Angel Pagan in particular - so they'll win some games like they did on Sunday, with Dickey striking out seven and keeping the Marlins scoreless over six innings, backed partially by a Davis home run. The Rangers offense slugged under .400 on the road last year (.447 overall), so this surge won't keep up all year. The Rays have some pieces that need to come together and Longoria should only miss three weeks. And the Orioles? Well, they're good and young in many places, but they still have a tough division to face.

The young season is very exciting, but we have to remember to keep calm - especially when it comes to players on our fantasy teams. Don't cut bait too soon, it's the most common mistake in the game.

* The Yankees are 2-1 and have the most expensive team in baseball, but some found the loss on Sunday so despicable that it pushed them to the brink. It's a crazy media market in our biggest city, I guess, or they've forgotten the golden rule. Phil Hughes didn't hit 91 on the gun, and count Larry Rothschild, the Yankees pitching coach, as worried. Perhaps this is actually a problem because the velocity was down during the spring as well, but velocities also rise with the temperature. The ball was jumping out of the stadium on Sunday, too - Hughes and Max Scherzer combined to give up six home runs. Get him another couple of ticks on the gun, and he could still be fine, so drop him at your own peril.

* Since pitchers only pitch 30-35 times a year, we parse their first starts a little more, and perhaps rightly so. Jaime Garcia had a poor spring, and is more of a groundballer than a strikeout artiste, but his complete game shutout of the Padres on Sunday should remind us that he's a good pitcher and should be rostered in all leagues. Matt Garza isn't pitching in front of that excellent Tampa Bay defense any more - that might have contributed to his 12 hits in seven innings - but his twelve strikeouts against no walks also underlines his upside in the weaker league. Knuckler R.A. Dickey shut down the Marlins Sunday and is a fine end-of-staff pitcher in almost any league, even if the strikeouts won't always be there. Dependable but unexciting Bronson Arroyo gave up three runs in seven innings with five strikeouts against the Brewers on Sunday. Randy Wolf, on the other side of that shellacking, and may be on the downslope of his career. Javier Vazquez, after allowing six hits and five walks to the Mets in just over two innings, is not looking great for rejuvenation either right now. Travis Wood had seven strikeouts in seven innings against the Brewers and might have a good year despite not cracking 90 with his fastball and not having great strikeout punch.

Scott Kazmir gave up five runs in less than two innings against the Royals Saturday and his manager discussed his lack of control and velocity after the game. Until he finds those things, he's un-rosterable in any league. Matt Harrison struck out eight and walked only two in keeping the Red Sox offense down on Sunday, but there's nothing in his history that suggests that he'll be a good pitcher this year. Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, is a good pitcher, but was probably due for some regression after a lucky year - call those four solo home runs on Sunday "regression" then. Zach Britton had a great debut, but his game is more about keeping the ball on the ground, so he might not strike out six each time out and should encounter some struggles his rookie year. Just remember Chris Tillman, who was terrible last year, and yet found success against the Rays on Saturday. James Shields began his bounceback season with two earned runs against the Orioles Saturday. Brett Cecil gave up six hits and three runs in five innings, and the former closer won't be too much better than a four era and a 1.3ish WHIP, probably. Justin Masterson induced 17 groundouts to two fly balls on Sunday, and that is his game. He's a solid sleeper if he can iron out his platoon split problems. John Lackey? Worry about John Lackey after he gave up nine earned runs in three and two-thirds.

* First base is first in our hearts but last in our pararagraphs. The position is always a great one for offensive statistics, and this weekend was more of the same. Ryan Howard drove in six runs over the first series, and Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez and Miguel Cabrera all had nice multi-hit games on Sunday. Miggy Cabs hit two home runs, Davis one, and Sanchez none, which does sorta fall in line with how their overall power should rank, but even Sanchez is useful in mixed leagues. He should at least be able to put up a decent batting average. Let's give a shout-out to Garrett Jones for his three hits and a homer over the weekend, too, even if he's a part-timer at the position in real life.

National League Quick Hits (Injuries, Rosters): Mat Latos (shoulder) felt "fantastic" in a bullpen session, word comes after minor league game Monday … The bearded Brian Wilson (oblique) says he'll be back Wednesday after feeling good in a bullpen session … Zack Greinke (rib) could start throwing off the mound this week … Shane Victorino left Saturday's game after colliding with Ben Francisco, but returned Sunday anyway … In a precautionary measure, Mike Stanton (hamstring) missed Sunday's game … Stephen Drew (abdominal) day-to-dayed his way through the weekend without getting a plate appearance, but remains in that state going forward … Casey Blake wants back in the lineup as soon as he's eligible on Thursday … The team is deciding between John Ely and Tim Redding for their final rotation spot, and the winner might be useful as a spot-starter … Joe Saunders was supposed to pitch in Sunday's snow-out in Arizona, but his spot might get skipped now … Andrew McCutchen (neck) was a late scratch and shouldn't miss much time if any … Matt Dominguez (elbow) will be out four-to-six after being hit in the elbow in a minor league game, says owner Jeffrey Loria … Even though Daniel Murphy started Sunday, his manager said that Brad Emaus should start more than two of every three games going forward … Chase Utley (knee) did some stuff (flips and grounders), and it was the most movement in a while, but who knows what it means … Mike Minor will take Jair Jurrgens' (side) spot in the rotation Sunday and is a good spot start despite taking on Milwaukee … For some reason, the Phillies GM and pitching coach openly discussed (and ridiculed) Ryan Madson's inability to handle the ninth, making Jose Contreras seem safer.

National League Quick Hits (Game Reports): Starlin Castro backed him with three hits and has eight on the young season, but hasn't added another dimension to his fantasy value just yet … Pedro Alvarez collected three hits and three RBi on Sunday, and is mixed-league relevant despite what could be a poor batting average due to his strikeouts … Bud Norris struck out seven batters in four innings but gave up five runs, which sums him up pretty well … Second baseman Danny Espinosa has power and speed, and after two hits Sunday, showed that he might be able to keep the batting average respectable … Skip Schumaker had a couple hits Sunday, but he's pretty much a replacement-level second baseman because of his lack of power or speed … Jon Niese induced a ton of groundballs and even without the upside of a top prospect, he'll be useful … Ricky Nolasco had a good game, and with his strikeout-to-walk ratio, he's got the upside enough to be rostered in almost all mixed leagues … Wandy Rodriguez got blown up, but he started out bad last year … Freddy Sanchez racked up seven hits over the weekend, five were singles … Rick Ankiel hit a homer on Saturday, but seems miscast as a starting every-day center fielder … Pablo Sandoval had four hits - one a home run - over the weekend, but also batted as low as eighth in the order (Friday against lefty Clayton Kershaw) and didn't start Saturday's game (against lefty Ted Lilly); possible platoon situation?

American League Quick Hits (Injuries, Rosters): David Aardsma (hip) looked "lights out" in his bullpen session Sunday and could easily be back this month to destroy Brandon League's short-lived value … In other closer news, Frank Francisco (pectoral) will make his first rehab appearance Thursday and be back by the weekend … Brandon Morrow (forearm) threw two simulated innings and felt fine, so he'll start his rehab … A mid-April return for Grady Sizemore (knee) seems possible now, and he'll be playing in games on Monday … Jake Peavy (shoulder) did well in s simulated game, but will need to pitch a couple more extended spring training games before joining the team … Brian Matusz (intercostal) will be out three-to-six, giving Zach Britton his chance … Derek Holland is now starting on Monday instead of Tuesday, switching spots with Alexi OgandoScott Downs (toe) might be back soon, as he's already pitching in simulated games … Joel Piniero (shoulder) will throw long-toss on Tuesday so that the team can decide when he'll be ready to debut … Scott Podsednik (foot) has been struggling with plantr fasciitis all spring training and no-one seems to know when he might be back … Shortstop Erick Aybar was scratched with a little tightness in his side, but will probably be back Tuesday … Luke Scott (groin) wants to be back Wednesday … Rajai Davis (ankle) was a late scratch, but almost made it on the field … Justin Duchscherer (back), a regular here, will have some nerve endings closed in his back and could be back in May … Johnny Damon was a late scratch for his calf, and he might also be a regular here … Jake Westbrook might be droppable in many leagues if his next start doesn't go any better - five walks against three strikeouts doesn't fly in either league.

American League Quick Hits (Game Reports): Alex Rodriguez had a single, two doubles and a home run over the weekend, looking pretty good for a declining veteran … A.J. Burnett found the zone for his debut Saturday, giving up only one free pass … Maybe it wasn't a fluke - Jose Bautista has two home runs in his first three games … Jorge Posada hit two home runs on Sunday and should be able to manage a .270/20/80 year without the catching gear dragging him down … Danny Valencia hit a solo home run in three at-bats, but power is not really his game - just an empty batting average for the most part … Orlando Cabrera has five RBI in his teams first three games, but isn't a mixed league starter … Jason Vargas pitched well against the A's and is useful at home and against bad offenses … Brett Anderson got five strikeouts in six innings, and has massive upside … Edwin Jackson will have runners on all year - he did Saturday, when he gave up nine in six innings and won … Carlos Carrasco is sort of a border-line guy, so don't feel bad dropping him in mixed leagues after he gave up sevens runs against the White Sox in his first start, but he has enough upside to be kept on the bench on deeper rosters … Kyle Drabek was supposed to get the groundballs (11 of em Saturday), but if he improves his major league strikeout rate past his minor league one (7 strikeouts in seven innings Saturday), he'll be really special … Francisco Liriano didn't start out well (reduced velocity, four runs, five walks in 4 1/3 Saturday), but last year was special enough to attempt a buy-low even … After some poor games over the weekend (0-5, 3 Ks Thursday, 0-4 with a strikeout Saturday), Alex Gordon got a vote of confidence from his coach (in the form of a speech about not taking guys out of the lineup), and then went out and collected four hits Sunday.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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