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Old 04-30-2006, 08:16 PM   #1
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Default First Month Thoughts

With the first month of the season in the rearview mirror I thought I would post some thoughts on the season thus far.

First, I will start with my team, the Cards, since I pay the most attention to them:

I am thrilled with the way my team has started going 17-8 which is best April record in club history. I was a bit worried about the bullpen at the beginning of the season given that they let Julian Tavarez go, traded away Ray King, and their best setup man Al Reyes being shelved for the year with a bum arm. Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper, and Brad Thompson have been phenomenal. They all have sub 2.00 ERAs, have won three games, and have garnered 8 holds. Throw in lefty specialist Randy Flores (2.84 ERA) and Josh Hancock (3.07 ERA) and the Cards have a strong core of set up men for Isringhausen who has been a bit spotty in the early going. The only real question to-date has been Izzy in the closer's role, but he has been prone to bouts of wildness in the past.

Speaking of Wainwright believe the hype on this guy. He has nasty stuff and is not afraid to challenge hitters. I have seen him pitch a few games this year and his stuff is just electric and he has great command of it. The Cards got the better end of the J. D. Drew deal. Not only did they get a quality starter in Marquis but they potentially got a future ace out of the deal. He has allowed just 7 base runners in 11 innings so far.

When it is all said and done Albert Pujols may very well go down as the greatest right-handed hitter to ever play the game. I am not talking about average hear but the all-around package. He just seems to get better and better as time goes on and his baseball IQ is amazing. An interesting factoid about Pujols is that if he gave himself two years to make it to the majors. If he had not made it by then he was going to figure out something else to do with his life.

It just boggles my mind how the Cards continue to find guys to produce for them. Scott Rolen goes down with bronchitis and Scott Spezio just steps in and is hitting .364 in Rolen's absence.

Now for some other thoughts:

-The Yankees may have the best lineup in baseball and may score 1,000 runs this year but it seems to be feast or famine thus far. They need to find some consistency in their offense instead of going out and scoring 10 runs one night and two or three the next. Pitching-wise the bullpen seems to be a far site better than last year and has been relatively reliable thus far. But, they need to find some consistency in the rotation. Mussina seems to have rediscovered his stuff and has been aces for the Yanks, but the rest of the rotation has managed just 7 quality starts between them in 17 games. They also need to do better than 4-7 on the road if they expect to go deep into the playoffs.

-Where would the Cubs be if Prior and Wood were healthy? They have been struggling to find any consistency after Zambrano and Maddux in the rotation. Maddux and Zambrano have 8 quality starts between them and the rest of the staff has only been able to muster a meager three. One positive for them is they have been able to find some consistent arms out of the pen to help set up Ryan Dempster.

-The White Sox look pretty intent on trying to defend their World Series crown. This team is not going down without a fight.

-Cincy, Colorado, and Detroit have to be the biggest surprises as far as teams go thus far. I doubt anyone would have picked them to be near the top of their divisions at the end of April.

-The A. L. West, San Diego, Minnesota, and Philly have to be the biggest disappointments thus far. The Angels were supposed to be a WS contender and the A's were supposed to be playoff contenders and both teams are struggling to stay above .500 at this point. San Diego was supposed to challenge in the West and currently sit at the bottom of their division and the Phils were supposed to be players in the N. L. and are currently under .500. The Twins were supposed to ride a stellar pitching staff into playoff contention and they can't seem to get anyone out these days.

-Biggest surprises as far as players go have to be Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. These two are supposed to be washed up and both are pitching like they did in their glory days with the Braves. I'll also through Bronson Arroyo in there. He is pitching like an ace this year; just imagine where the BoSox would be if they still had him in the rotation. John Papelbon deserves some mention here as well I doubt anyone envisioned him being one of the best closers in the month of April.

Early season front-runners for Rookie of the Year:
N. L. - Prince Fielder is hitting the cover off the ball. His homer numbers will come around if he keeps hitting like this. Hanley Ramirez had a good April and Taylor Bucholz (Hou) and Brian Bannister (NYM) have given quality innings to first place teams.

A. L. - It is pretty slim pickings in the AL right now. Justin Verlander has been solid for the Tigers. Other than Verlander there really have not been any rookies of note.

April MVPs:
N. L. - No-brainer here but it has to be Pujols. There is really not much to debate at this point.

A. L. - Gotta go with Jim Thome followed closely by John Papelbon. Where would these two teams be without these two guys in the fold?

April Cy Young:
N. L. - Greg Maddux is 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA and is easily the best pitcher in the league right now. Cris Carpenter is nipping at his heels but I'll go with Maddux on the basis that he has won more games.

A. L. - Jose Contreras leads the league in wins and ERA. Papelbon and Schilling deserve consideration as well as does Mike Mussina who has helped keep the Yankees afloat when the rest of the rotation struggles.
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