With the new LP from The National spinning, here’s my MLB rundown for this week:
Trey Hillman is the first managing casualty of the new season, having been dismissed yesterday in favor of former Brewer manager Ned Yost. Ironically, it was Hillman who lobbied for Yost to be added as a special advisor this offseason. But unless Yost is bringing four more starters to plug in behind Greinke in the rotation, I doubt it’ll matter much. Too bad for Hillman; he was a stand up dude.
Is there a more clutch player in baseball right now than Andre Ethier? I was at Dodger Stadium last week and they showed a clip of all his walk-off hits from the past couple of seasons. Dude is money with the game on the line. If you’re filling out an early All-Star Game ballot, be sure his name is on it. We might be looking at a Triple Crown season here.
As an aside, there are few ideas born in the mind of man that are better than All You Can Eat Seats. Trust me.
If you buy into run differential (the number of runs a team has either outscored or been outscored by their opponents), then there are a few interesting tidbits in the numbers:
- The Rays have outscored their opponents so far by a margin of 85 runs; the Yankees stand at 66. No other team is above 48. As usual, the two best teams in baseball reside in the AL East. But present day, it’s Yanks / Rays, not Yanks / Sox. As a point of reference, Boston is at -7 in run differential; the Washington Nationals are at -8.
- The NL East and NL West divisions each only have one team with a negative run differential (Washington and Arizona). Conversely, the NL Central only has one team (St. Louis) on the positive side of the ledger. If the Cards don’t win this pitiful division, it’ll be really sad.
- It’s no surprise that the Pirates — thanks to a couple of 20-run stinkbombs — are an MLB-worst -97. It’s also no surprise that Baltimore and Houston are next on the list at -52. The shocker is that the L.A. Angels are right on their heels at -51. Are we seeing the wheels come off in L.A.? Could the losses of Lackey, K Rod, Vlad, Tex, et al over the past few offseasons finally be catching up to this club? It’s still early, but things have not looked good for this perennial division champ.
Don’t look now, but the Padres and Twins are tied with the Yankees for the second-best record in the majors. The Twins seem to be flying under the radar right now, but a good showing in their weekend series against the Bronx Bombers could change all of that. They’re first in the AL in batting average, second in ERA and OBP, and 3rd in WHIP and OPS. Francisco Liriano finally looks like himself after an up-and-down ’09 campaign. Justin Morneau also looks to be fully recovered from the back issues that felled him late last year. As for the Padres, I keep waiting for the clock to strike midnight on this Cinderella story. But so far, it’s been a dominant pitching staff that has carried them to the top of the NL. 1st in ERA, 1st in WHIP, 2nd in Batting Average Against, 2nd in OPS Against…sure, it’s been a nice run. But remember that Safeco is a pitching haven; these ridiculous pitching numbers are going to come back to earth and when they do, this team won’t have the offensive firepower to overcome it. This has been a nice little story, but expect it to end very soon.