MLB Thoughts – April 9, 2010

I’m going to try something new here; a Friday column focused solely on the week that was in Major League Baseball. Here are my reflections on Opening Week 2010.

  • I’ll start with my St. Louis Cardinals, who leave Cincinnati with a 2-1 record and a couple of things clearly defined: Albert Pujols is great; Colby Rasmus looks ready to take a huge step forward as a run-producer; Chris Carpenter doesn’t like it when the grounds crew drops the ball; Brad Penny is poised to be Dave Duncan’s next reclamation project; and the Cards bullpen is as dicey as ever. Wonder what Jason Isringhausen is doing these days? I still think St. Louis is the class of this division, but this bullpen problem could really cost them in the long run.
  • What’s up with Vernon Wells? In my AL East Review, I ripped the guy for his paltry power numbers the past few years. Apparently I spoke too soon. It’s funny what healthy wrists will do for a guy.
  • Braves 3B Chipper Jones was injured yesterday. In other news, bear eats man and Republicans don’t approve of healthcare reform. Chipper is a Hall of Fame player and all, but this is getting ridiculous. Currently it’s a strained oblique; next week it’ll be something else. The over / under on games played for Chipper this year is 125; I’m taking the under.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers locked up Yovani Gallardo, their young ace, to a five-year, $30.1 million dollar contract extension which buys out his first few years of arbitration. The deal could actually be worth $42 million over six seasons with all the options being exercised. It’s worth noting that Gallardo has won exactly 22 games at the major league level. I know he’s young and in a few years, who knows, the contract might end up looking like a bargain. But it does seem like an awful lot of money for a small market team to commit to such an unproven player with something of an injury history.
  • Speaking of unproven players, what are we to make of the hype surrounding Braves prospect Jason Heyward? If all of my Braves friends are correct, this is the week we’ll look back on and fondly remember when “the next Hank Aaron” made his major league debut. What does that do to you when — as a 20 year old kid — people are already comparing you to the all-time greats in your industry? I’m certainly rooting for the guy. And that laser beam rocket shot off of Carlos Zambrano on Opening Day was quite impressive. But there’s no way he can meet such lofty expectations this early, unless he has a Pujols-esque rookie season and never looks back.
  • Speaking of Aaron, check out these pearls of wisdom from the real home run champ.
  • This Mark Buehrle play is just amazing. Play of the year…on Opening Day! (Video has since been removed.)
  • Finally, how good does Jim Thome look in that Twins uni? The Twins look good so far and adding Thome’s power bat on the cheap is just the kind of shrewd move we’ve come to expect from their front office. Everything still revolves around Mauer and Morneau, but with a supporting cast of Thome, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Orlando Hudson, and J.J. Hardy, this lineup should be able to score plenty of runs. If I had to pick an AL team to root for, it would probably be Minnesota.
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