The Week That Was in Baseball: March 22-28, 2010
The Doc's in Trouble Again • Who's ReadyAnd Who's Notfor 2010
Matt Bush Takes the Josh Hamilton Route • Who Cracked Artie Moreno's Windshield?
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TGG's Predictions For the 2010 Regular Season
It's All Yours, Phoenix
Former star pitcher Dwight Gooden, who experienced a turbulent but sometimes brilliant career over 16 years, was back in the news for the wrong reasonsagain. Assumed by many to have gone cold turkey following a seven-month stop in prison for continued substance abuse back in 2006, Gooden suffered a relapse when he was involved in a car accident while under the influence of drugs. Worse than that, he fled the scene of the accident. Even worse than that, all of this took place while having a child seated in the back of his car. According to the Associated Press report, Gooden had time to shake hands with the driver he hit because he’d been recognized. How it went from a cordial greeting to fleeing the scene will have to be addressed in court.
Won't Get Fooled Again
This Week's Trivia Question
Hamilton Avenue: The Long, Painful Road Back
Maybe One Day It Will Make a Difference
Does Artie Have AAA?
This Week's Episode of Divorce McCourt
Hey, It Don't Cost Nothing
Time to Invest in a Psychologist?
Bell and Strikes
Wounded of the Week
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
He Said What?
TGG Programming Note
This Week's Trivia Answer
Spring Trained? Who's Ready and Not for 2010
Remember: Last year, we officially placed Hanley Ramirez, Cliff Lee and Mark Reynolds in the “not ready” column, while it appeared that Milton Bradley, Khalil Greene and the San Francisco Giants’ hitters were “ready.” With exhibition baseball, you just never know, but here we go anyway. (Full disclosure: The statistics listed below are through March 26.)
Ready: Brian McCann, Atlanta. For the Braves to have a shot of upending the Phillies in the NL East, they’ll need someone on offense to step it up as Chipper Jones begins to fade with age. McCann’s .500 average with power this spring gives Atlanta hope that he’ll be that guy.
Not Ready: Nate McLouth, Atlanta. Meanwhile, the spring of McLouth, another pseudo-marquee Brave, has been abysmal with just five hits in 44 at-bats and 15 strikeoutsheightening fears in the Brave front office that his stock continues to fall since his trade from Pittsburgh last season.
Ready: Delwyn Young, Pittsburgh. The back-up outfielder may see a role as a starter sooner than later if he keeps up the power surge (a major league-leading six home runs in spring training); it’s an eye-opener given he has ten career blasts in 513 regular season at-bats.
Not Ready: Brandon Moss, Pittsburgh. Another reserve outfielder for the Bucs, Moss will be happy at this point just to make the roster. Why? Try two singles in 33 at-bats with no RBIs. Hopefully Moss has a gentile dispositionfor if not, this performance will leave him feeling like Dave Moss, the irritably profane salesman with a Hyundai as played by Ed Harris in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Ready: Mike Sweeney, Seattle. Is the 36-year old ready for a renaissance following five years of injury-plagued struggle? The Mariners, in search of all the power they can muster, certainly hope so. Sweeney is hitting .577 (that’s right15 hits in 26 at-bats) with seven extra-base hits.
Not Ready: Billy Buckner, Arizona. Baseball’s first Billy Buckneryes, the one who let the ball roll through his legscould probably go out and have a better spring than the game’s second version. The current Billy has a crippling spring ERA of 11.66.
Not Ready: Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia. One of the game’s most notorious streakersno, not the naked kindis having it bad this spring with just four hits in 41 at-bats. Look at it this way: Sooner or later he’s bound to turn it around on a dime and get hot, so better to get the big slump out of the way while the games don’t count.
Ready: Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota. After a full-fledged revival in 2009 (32 homers after just three in 2008), Cuddyer looks ready to take his game to an even higher level this season if his .500 average this spring counts for anything.
Ready: The Minnesota Twins’ starting rotation. Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano have been absolutely dynamite for the Twins in Grapefruit action, combining for a 9-0 record and a 1.88 ERA; they’ve walked only ten batters in 67-plus innings. This is just the lift the Twins, without Joe Nathan to close, are looking for within their staff.
Not Ready: The Washington Senators’ pitching staff. But then again, these guys never seem to be ready. A grisly 6.66 ERA actually gets higher if you take away the superb spring numbers of rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg, who for some reason starts the year in Double-A.
Ready: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington. If the Nats can’t pitch, at least some of them can hit. Zimmerman is the sure thing in the lineup and has proved it this spring, hitting over .400 with five homers.
Not Ready: Justin Maxwell, Washington. On the other hand, some Nats can’t hit. Maxwell has all but lived on the bench in two previous seasons at Washington, but he’ll be back in the minors with these numbers: Five hits in 49 at-bats, with 20 strikeouts.
Ready: Tim Hudson, Atlanta. Repaired, rebuilt and, if a 1.35 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 20 innings this spring holds true for the regular season, rejuvenated. Another must-succeed element if the Braves are to make a run at the postseason.
Not Ready: Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay. A 3-for-36 spring is not a good sign for a guy who’s got power but has seen his batting average slip precipitously over the last few years. Pena needs to reverse course when the games count, or his impending free agency will become a yawn.
Ready: Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay. If Pena continues his collapse into the regular season, maybe this young guy can learn to play first base (he’s played almost every other position in his pro career to date). A component of the trade that sent Scott Kazmir to Anaheim, Rodriguez has smoked opponents this spring, hitting .420 with 11 extra-base hits (including six homers) among 21 total hits.
Not Ready: Rich Harden, Texas. Ranger fans are starting to get a bad feeling that moving Kevin Millwood out to bring in Harden as the staff ace was not a good thing. Harden has not only been hit hard (18 earned runs allowed in 17.2 innings), but he’s been erratic to boot, walking 15.
Not Ready: Kevin Millwood, Baltimore. Take heart, Ranger fans: Oriole Nation shares your pain. Millwood has been clocked about as well, allowing 12 runs on 21 hits in just eight-plus innings. It all evens out, we suppose.
Ready: Todd Wellemeyer, San Francisco. Young phenom Madison Bumgarner was pegged to be the fifth starter in the rich Giant rotation this season, but the well-traveled, common Wellemeyer has been uncommon this spring and earned the spot instead with a 1.35 ERA and 3-0 record.
Not Ready: Ben Sheets, Oakland. The tall veteran made news a few weeks back when he allowed ten runs without retiring a single batter, but put all of that aside and his ERA is still nearly 10.00. Sheets is tanned and rested after a year off from elbow surgery, but he hardly looks ready. The A’s are crossing their fingers hard on this one.
Ready: Randy Ruiz, Toronto. We listed the long-time minor leaguer who has DH written all over him as one of the Teasers of 2009 when he hit ten home runs in just 115 at-bats for the Blue Jays late last season. Ruiz has continued to pound on opponents this spring, hitting over .400 with three homers. He’s likely to make the Opening Day roster.
Not Ready: Lars Anderson, Boston. The big Californian slugger tagged as a prized prospect in the Red Sox organization didn’t make the grade this spring; in fact, he didn’t even make it to first base, going hitless in 18 at-bats before being moved on to the minors.Not Ready: Kevin Hart, Pittsburgh. The 27-year old struggled late last year with the Pirates, but that was nothing compared to the horror show he put on this spring, allowing five runs on eight hits and thirteen walks over just 4.2 innings. Initially projected as a fifth starter, Hart’s exhibition mishaps have instead ticketed him to Triple-A.
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