Around the League: The Top Five Stories Through the First Week of MLB

Nick TassoContributor IApril 14, 2009

ATLANTA - APRIL 10:  Outfielder Jordan Schafer #24 (left) of the Atlanta Braves scores the winning run in extra innings against the Washington Nationals April 10, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Braves won 6 - 5. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Reigning Cy Youngs

By this time last year, Tim Lincecum found himself in the San Francisco Giants rotation while collecting two wins and a 2.25 ERA. 

By this time last year, Cliff Lee stood the American League leader with a 0.61 ERA and two wins. Lee did this while coming off a 2007 season which saw him sent him back to the minors and eventually a bullpen guy in the September call ups.

Both players dominated in their respective leagues while winning the Cy Young award.

Fast-forward to 2009, and they have compiled a combined 0-3 record, while not making it past 5.1 innings pitched in any start.

Between the two starters, Lee’s first performance takes the cake as the worst start of the year. In that start against the Texas Rangers, he lasted five innings, while surrendering seven runs, including a three-run homer to Hank Blalock.

As for Lincecum, he went only three innings in his first appearance against the Milwaukee Brewers giving up three runs. The Giants managed to come back and win that game 10-6. In his second start against the anemic San Diego Padres offense, he allowed four runs including a home run to Chase Headly in 5.1 innings.

Before you start panicking, these two pitchers have only started twice this year, so there is plenty of time for them to recover. 

It’s like the beginning of The Green Mile. If you didn’t enjoy the first hour or so, there’s still about two more hours wherein it can redeem itself.  However, if you probably didn’t like the first hour of The Green Mile, you wouldn’t be too keen about going the full distance.

Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves atop NL East

As it stands on Apr. 13, the Florida Marlins and the Atlana Braves are both atop the NL East at 5-1, with both teams sweeping the feeble Washington Nationals. 

The Marlins took two out of three from the New York Mets, while the Braves took their swipes at the defending champs also winning two out of three games. In addition, Atlanta was in prime position to sweep the Phillies, but the bullpen imploded by giving up nine runs.

The Marlins pitched their way to five victories, while the Braves found that they can slug with the best of them.

As fate would have it, these two juggernauts will start a three game series on Tuesday to decide NL East supremacy. 

But wait, we’re still in April and both teams sit merely just 1.5 games ahead of the defending champion Phillies, who get to play the Nationals for a few more games.

Right now, the Braves and Marlins should be happy about their start, but they need to keep up their high level of play if they are interested in staying on top of that hill.


Two best starts of Kevin Millwood’s Texas career

The year was 2005, a few days after Christmas and the Texas brass were fooled.  They were fooled by a sexy 2.86 ERA that Kevin Millwood boasted and promptly signed him to a four year deal totally disregarding his ineffective Philly years. 

In Millwood’s first year in Arlington, he managed 16 wins with a 4.52 ERA. He followed that up with two five-plus ERA years. 

Now he is thankfully in his last year of the four-year deal.

Millwood has dealt two brilliant starts to begin the season. He went seven innings while only allowing one earned run. He followed this debut with another seven inning performance against the Detroit Tigers, striking out six while allowing no runs.

It is Kevin Millwood still throwing the ball, so I won’t believe any of these stats until June.  I’ve seen the real Kevin Millwood and it’s not pretty. In his 12 seasons, he has only had three with an ERA of 4.00 or less.

Pedro Martinez Remains Jobless

With the economy still failing steadily, many players were forced to take a significant paycut (it’s not like $5 million is a bad salary, but for some reason, it is for them). 

For players, it was either accept that fact or see yourself watching games on TV. 

Some players even waited it out to the final weeks and days of spring training, like Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra, to see if teams would become desperate enough and throw out wads of cash to them.

As for future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, he took the route of watching games on TV. 

Although he wants to join a team, his salary demand still deters teams away, like PETA supporting Michael Vick. It just will never happen.

The fact remains, Martinez has become a five, sometimes six inning pitcher, and as much as he doesn’t want to admit it, he is not worth the $6-8 million that he is looking to get. 

It’s hard for players to realize that their skills are diminishing.  And if you don’t believe me, look up Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame announcement speech. 

Pedro needs to accept what he has become and embrace it in every which way.

A team that could get into the mix would be the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim due to their injuries, and the unexpected death of pitcher Nick Adenhart.  Pedro would fit in nicely to give that rotation some experience.

Another team that could use Pedro would be the Oakland A’s.  They have a pretty good staff but is very, very young.  Again, adding some experience could do that staff well.

And who knows, maybe Pedro Martinez could become a John Smoltz-like closer.

Nick Adenhart…RIP

Like I wrote in one of my previous articles, it was such an unnecessary tragedy.  It is so horribly shocking that it will definitely affect the entire realm of baseball, and not just the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


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