Please check out the Hippeaux's weekly posts at SNY affiliate, It's About The Money.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bold Observations

Bonds stole a base after singling in his first at bat of the season.
  • I spent some time in New York in the week leading up to the season, and although I will generally refrain from discussing the oft-chartered waters of the Hudson River between Queens and the Bronx, I will say this much. For all those who believed that Mussina's new contract, the reaquisition of Andy Pettitte, and the signing of Kei Igawa marked the end of the starting pitching inconsistencies that have been the Yankees major - perhaps only - weakness for the past three seasons, need look no further than the Bombers opening day starter to see that they've been had. Don't get me wrong, Carl Pavano may turn in a fine season if he's finally happy and healthy, but he's not exactly Curt Schilling...or Dice-K...or Josh Beckett. You get the picture.

  • As I've already ranted about on several occasions, in the age of "competitive balance," bet on depth. I love the Dodgers depth. Had they signed Luis Gonzalez to regularly spell and mentor their trough of young outfielders - Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Jason Repko, etc. - I would've applauded it. Instead they're using him as the everday left fielder and platooning Ethier and Kemp. Already, today, I saw a looping gapper that would've be comfortably caught by either of the speedy, strong-armed, athletic, young alternatives, drop in front of Gonzalez running at a dead sprint and roll to wall for a double (Estrada eventually scored) and Bill Hall turned a long single into a double because he had no fear of Gonzalez' arm. It's important to note, the Dodgers went on to lose by one run. These are scenes that I will surely get used to and won't sting as much if Gonzalez starts hitting, but so far...well, he's 0-7 with 4 men left on base.

  • Remember Russell Coltrane Martin from my Soulful Sleepers post. He was blanked by Ben Sheets yesterday, along with about everybody else. Today, he went 3-for-5 with a single, a double, a home run, two RBI, two runs scored, and an excellent run-saving, plate-blocking tag to foil a double steal.

  • A week ago I predicted that Detroit would not be so lucky as to get 30 starts from four or more pitchers this season. A few days later Kenny Rogers went on the DL. Somewhat surprisingly, Jim Leyland chose 29-year-old journeyman Chad Durbin, who only pitched 6 innings in the majors last year, all out of the bullpen, and has gone 13-26 with a 6.15 ERA over his career as a starter. Durbin is not the only or - it would appear from our perspective - the best option, but clearly Leyland sees something he likes. If Durbin struggles in his first couple starts look for Zach Minor or Wil Ledezma to see action. If Rogers doesn't appear to be close to coming back, or another starter goes down, freeing up a rotation slot for the long haul, we'll likely see the emergence of Andrew Miller, who could be this year's version of Jared Weaver, Jeremy Sowers, or Rich Hill.

  • My newest Soulful Sleeper is Elijah Dukes. For those of you who don't know about Dukes, he's the most controversial angry black baller since Gary Sheffield. His father is a murderer. He was arrested for assault for the first time when he was 13. He served three lengthy suspensions as a Devil Rays minor leaguer. He was arrested for possession of marijuana a year ago. But, he most resembles Sheffield in his tremendous bat speed and selective batter's eye, well better than the norm for a 22-year-old with tremendous talent, who could've coasted on his tools. Unlike fellow angry black Devil Rays, B. J. Upton and Delmon Young, Dukes is a very mature product on the field. Besides walking nearly as often as he strikes out, he plays excellent center field defense, steals bases at a better than 2-to-1 clip, and hits to all fields. He's prepared to make an impact immediately, as evidenced by his home run on opening day against the Yankees.

No comments: