May 5th, 2014

A Little of This and Some of That

Sometimes I think one or two players set the tone for an entire roster. The departures of Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew have given the Red Sox an entirely different look and feel. They miss both those players-but especially Ellsbury. A guy that ignites an offense from the top of the batting order is hard to find. To watch him play for your biggest rival is difficult to handle. I think the Red Sox could struggle to score runs all year. In addition, the defensive shifts being deployed against David Ortiz are taking their toll on his productivity.

On the other hand, think of what the Yankees have been able to do because Robinson Cano left them for Seattle. They used the money targeted for him to fill several gaping holes and return to the Yankees of old. Very good free agent signings IMO on the part of Mr. Cashman.

It’s very difficult for me to watch John Axford come in to save an Indians game. I know he’s done the job–most of the time. But not without heartburn. And the loss to the White Sox Sunday was painful to watch. Corey Kluber pitched an 8 inning gem. While I left the room for an instant, Axford had already walked the leadoff hitter. Then it went downhill from there.

The hole I’ve seen in Jose Abreu’s swing is a high fastball. But not an 88 mph fastball. A mid-90’s fastball.

The Rockies have one of the best defensive infields I have seen in years. Nolan Arenado is incredible at third. D J LeMahieu is almost his equal at second. Tulo is darn good at shortstop and now, Justin Morneau brings a great glove to first. And man, can that club clobber the baseball. If they can use a pitching machine instead of humans they would win the World Series. But it’s tough to pitch in Colorado. Very tough.

I saw a statistic that said 31 pitchers have required Tommy John surgery since February. 16 have been on Major League pitching staffs. Maybe some doctor and hospital should consider providing a Tommy John surgery at birth. That would provide a tremendous public service.

How do the Dbacks come back from their horrible start? That’s the question I’m being asked the most lately. My answer? I don’t know. The farm system can not plug pitching holes–or position player holes for that matter. There are few players available on the trade front (at least until the trade deadline in July). And even if there were, who can they trade? Maybe second baseman Aaron Hill. Chris Owings could convert to second base with Didi Gregorius playing shortstop. I’ll get Didi in there somewhere.

The Marlins are a fun team to watch. And I firmly believe Jose’ Fernandez is in the conversation as the best pitcher in baseball. Why? I just think the Kershaw injury gives me a bit of concern. But if he is still behind Kershaw, he isn’t far away from being the best. His curveball is beyond fantastic.

The Tigers need Stephen Drew. Tomorrow if not today.

It’s very strange to look in the Wrigley Field stands on a televised game and see empty seats. But that’s reality. It’s been cold and the team isn’t winning. Bad combination-even for a tremendously loyal fan base.

Here’s something I never thought would happen this year—Oakland is looking for starting pitching. Are you kidding me? That speaks volumes about pitching depth and surgeries. They have two guys on the shelf in Parker and Griffin.

How tough is it to pitch to Major League hitters? The Angels are on the brink of returning Ernesto Frieri to the closer’s role. Yikes!

Is Prince heating up? Seems like it. And so is Miguel Cabrera. Watch out!

Speaking of Miguel. Have you noticed the shorter swing and different footwork for Miguel Montero in the batter’s box? He’s getting results. He’s much improved over the 2013 edition. But I’m still not buying it 100%. I want to see it for an entire season.

Corey Kluber is really a darn good starting pitcher.

I’m really happy for the Brewers. They are doing it with a balance of pitching and hitting. Hope they keep it up. It’s a good story. Small market and in the same division with the Cardinals. But the Cardinals hitters have really scuffled.

Kolten Wong has been sent out for more seasoning. Um….I think I many have mentioned…..in the pre-season.

I think the Angels will regret trading Randal Grichuk to St. Louis. I love his swing. He’s a little bit of a late bloomer, but he can flat out hit. The Cards have almost as much outfield depth as they have pitching depth. That’s scary good.

If you can figure out how the Padres can score some runs, contact Buddy Black. I feel terrible for him and Josh Byrnes. It’s a solid franchise, but they’re not scoring runs.

The Rays need pitching? Yes, they do. Speaking of good defense. That’s a team that plays good defense. I’ve seen some outstanding plays by Desmond Jennings. Game savers.

The Cubs Starlin Castro has responded very well to manager Rick Renteria.

The Royals? I just don’t see them hanging in with the Tigers. Even if they get hot, which they haven’t yet. The Tigers just have too much pitching.

Rick Porcello is having a great start to his year. Of course. I didn’t keep him in one of my keeper leagues. I had a hunch when I hit the delete button.

This month I’ll be in Chicago to see the White Sox and in Milwaukee to watch the Brewers. Hope you follow me on twitter for those games.

Angel Pagan may be among the most underrated players in the game. The Giants are a different team with him. When he had that prolonged injury they really scuffled.

Ubaldo Jimenez must be driving Buck Schowalter nuts. Which is the real guy? The one that bombed for his first few starts or the one who threw a gem last week? The Rockies and Indians have lived through that nightmare.

I still like the Orioles. Even with Chris Davis on the shelf. Very balanced club.

Sorry to see Jason Kipnis miss time with an injury. He’s the heart of the Indians IMO.

Looks like we’ll get to see left-hander Robbie Ray pitch for the Tigers this week. We’ll see the pitcher the Tigers got for Doug Fister.

Thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for listening to Short Hops on iTunes. And thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Much appreciated.

That’s it. I’m done.