Each Week I recap the top story-lines, whether they are about a team, player, owner, fan, equipment, or whatever else is impacting the game. We’re now one month into the season, and reaching the end of our small-sample size rope. Soon we’ll have to start admitting that the player we can’t stand is actually playing well, rather than just pointing at a Statistics book and yelling, “But! Sample Size! Idiot! Regression!”
So let’s get into it. From thrown-in-the-garbage to new and shiny, here’s your dumpster-filled Week 4 in Review.
5. Heath Bell is not yet earning his keep.
We’ve already seen one of the game’s top closers in Brian Wilson go down for the season, needing Tommy John surgery, only after Joakim Soria went down with the same injury, and Andrew Bailey went down with a thumb injury. Jordan Walden and Sergio Santos have been, at least temporarily, removed from their closer roles, and now we’re left to wonder what’s going on with Heath Bell. In two outings this past week, Bell blew his 3rd save of the season, and followed that up by allowing 2 more runs (BB, HBP, single, 2 sacrifices) in garbage time on Monday.
It’s not clear what the Marlins will do with Bell. Given his 3 year contract, they’re not about to completely give up on him. At the same time, they can’t allow him to continually blow leads, especially when those leads have been few and far between this season. Look for either Eduardo Mujica or Steve Cishek to get some save opportunities soon. They’ve gotta do something to shake things up, but the closer spot is far from the worst of Miami’s problems. The offense scored fewer runs in the NL last week. The only reason they even broke double digit runs scored is because Giancarlo finally hit his first home run on Sunday. The Marlins desperately need his bat to heat up.
4. The Red Sox appear to be back on track.
After beginning the week in the AL East’s proverbial dumpster with a 5-10 record, the Red Sox went 5-1, improving to 10-11. A win on Monday brought them up to .500, though they’re still hanging out in the dumpster. See, some teams that find themselves in the dumpster early on get food poisoning from a rotten banana, and just give up. Other teams, like the Red Sox, remain hungry and use their situation as motivation to climb out of the dumpster, wash up in a Citgo bathroom, get a job holding a spinning arrow or guitar on the sidewalk, and pay for some schooling.
Someday, the Red Sox will have their Master’s degree, and they’ll drive past this dumpster on occasion (road trips to Baltimore), just to keep themselves grounded. Or, you know, the garbage truck will haul them away while their sleeping.
3. The Baltimore Orioles.
A nearly perfect 5-1 week for Baltimore left them sitting atop the AL East going into Monday. With the week’s most dominant pitching, they outscored their opponents 27-11. That’s an average difference of 3.67 runs per game. The O’s pitching staff only allowed more than 2 runs per game once all week. Who needs Jeremy Guthrie when you have Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel?
At some point, though, it might be time for the O’s to get a reality check. They’ve been red hot. They’re on top of the toughest division in baseball, and they’re flying high. They’re basically at the top of their class, and they’ve just gotten a great internship with the Baltimore police department. But don’t worry, it won’t last long. Soon they’ll become corrupted and start taking their piece off the top of the proverbial drug-money pie. That won’t be enough, so they’ll start running the drugs themselves. They’ll cross the wrong person, and some guy named Ray will shoot them right in the pitching wing. By June, they’ll be living out of a dumpster with the other birds of the division.
2. Mike Trout has been called up by the Angels.
The Angels couldn’t hit their way out of a paper bag, whatever that means. They couldn’t even scrounge 10 runs together last week. It’s gotten so bad that they’ve released Bobby Abreu, and called up Mike Trout sooner than was expected. Despite being in the majors for a nice chunk of time last season, MLB restored the 20 year-old Trout’s rookie eligibility in December, so he will still be in the hunt for Rookie of the Year.
Not that the Angels needed him to, but Trout really pushed the issue, batting .403/.467/.623 in 20 games at AAA. Sure, there’s a sample size warning there, but to bat over .400 through nearly 100 plate appearances is an impressive feat in rookie ball, let alone AAA. Look for Trout to reinvigorate the Angels lineup while Pujols heats up. May could turn out to be a great month to be an Angels fan.
1. Bryce Harper has been called up by the Nationals.
Speaking of young Rookie of the Year candidates, the Nationals made a similar move, despite being on the opposite side of the coin. First place Washington called up their 19 year-old prodigy, Bryce Harper over the weekend. The Nats have been winning with their pitching, but the offense is a different story. They easily have the league’s lowest team ERA, but only the Marlins, A’s, and Pirates have scored fewer runs. They miss Michael Morse and need a kick start. That kick start, they hope, comes in the form of 2010 #1 overall pick, Bryce Harper.
Harper hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in the minors since being promoted to AA last season. He’s hit roughly .250/.330/.380 between AA and AAA, but that shouldn’t take away from the incredible 5-tool talent that he is. Love him or hate him, he, like the rest of the Nationals, will be fun to watch this season.