Dye, Konerko each hit #300

This afternoon the Chicago White Sox are in Detroit to play the Tigers and Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko are up to some of their old tricks. In the second inning the pair hit back-back-back home runs off of Zach Miner to give the White Sox an early lead. Consecutive home runs aren’t something new for this pair as they’ve been following one another in the Sox lineup for the past few seasons. This time the home runs were more of a personal milestone for each player.

Dye’s HR – 390 feet to left center – was #300 of his career. Konerko’s – 362 foot to left – was also #300 of his career.

Kind of cool huh?

quick thoughts: Braves bullpen, MLB Network, Gary Sheffield

More thoughts …..

  • The Atlanta Braves are running into a lot of bullpen trouble early on in the season and it begs the question, what will they do to improve the situation? I’m watching the end of their game tonight against the Washington Nationals. It’s the ninth inning, Atlanta leades 5-4, but closer Mike Gonzalez has just walked the bases loaded with one out. By some chance circumstance, Gonzalez is the most seasoned veteran in that bullpen. However, while each has shown flashes of power in their careers, neither Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano has any business closing out games. The Braves will be in the market for a closer in the coming months unless they can develop one internally. Looking at the names in their bullpen I don’t see many viable candidates.
  • By the way, I am loving MLB Network so far. I wish they were able to air more games throughout the week without disruption regional contracts but I can deal.
  • Gary Sheffield’s debut with the Mets has been pushed back a few days. Rather than getting his first start in right field on Sunday, Sheff will have to wait until Wednesday. Jerry Manuel has Johan Santana slated to start on Sunday and offense is typically at a premium in his starts. The team provided him little in the way of run support last season and Manuel knows that the best way to win Santana’s starts is to put the best defense in the field behind him. While I think Sheffield will be a good fit with the Mets, he in no way constitutes a good defender at this point in his career.

quick thoughts: Adenhart, Red Sox, Angels

A friend of mine sent me a quick text that reminded me that the game was on, I managed to flip over to NESN just in time to catch the very end of the tribute ceremony for Nick Adenhart prior to the Angels game against the Red Sox. Unfortunately I missed most of it but I’m sure I’ll be able to see a replay either on the MLB Network or Sportscenter. Adenhart’s tragic death is so unfortunate. He was a prospect I had really been looking forward to seeing on a regular basis in a major league rotation.

While it pails in comparison to what the Angels organization must be feeling, I can relate to some small degree what it is like to lose a teammate. When I was younger and playing Little League I generally pitched during most of our games (or at least as frequently as my coach was permitted to have me pitch). Naturally, as a pitcher, I became good friends with our team’s catcher, Corey. One year after the season ended, Corey went on vacation with his family. While playing on the beach with some other kids around his age Corey was accidentally struck in the throat with a whiffle ball bat. His windpipe was pinched closed and he was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. It hit me hard.

But, I was a kid and couldn’t fully understand what had happened. The Angels organization and all of Major League Baseball have lost a talented young man.

Some quick thoughts on the teams playing tonight ……

  • As one would imagine, the Angels are likely not going to rush into naming who will replace Nick Adenhart in the starting rotation. Taking a quick glance at their upcoming schedule, that turn in the rotation does not come up again until Wednesday in Seattle so they do have time. One could assume that the likely candidate to make the start will be Shane Loux after the battle he put up for the 5th spot in the rotation through Spring Training. Ervin Santana and John Lackey will need to be the veteran anchors for this pitching staff upon their returns – both on the field and in the clubhouse.
  • Lately it seems like everyone associated with the media wants to discuss what a predicament the Red Sox will have when Julio Lugo returns from injury in a few weeks. To be fair, there’s no need to obsess over this just yet. Jed Lowrie needs to cut back on the strikeouts and be a little patient at the plate. He’s been swinging very wildly through the first few games and has looked absolutely awful at the plate. Pitch him low and away and he’ll swing and miss every time. But, Lowrie showed last year that he is capable of hitting at this level and he needs to calm down and just hit the ball. If he can produce at a .265 – .275 clip to start the year with solid defense, Lugo will be forced to assume the utility role. If Lowrie continues having trouble offensively the Sox will have to find a way to platoon the two.
  • Trading Lugo – while being the ideal option if you were to ask anyone living in New England – is simply not an option at this point in time. He has negative trade value. He is owed $18 Million for 2009 and 2010. His defense since arriving in Boston has been shoddy at best. His offensive production has been less than desireable. The problem, however, is that nobody is in such a dire need of a shortstop that they would part with anything in a trade for Lugo. This is perhaps why his injury during Spring Training was one of the worst things that could have happened to the Sox and to Lugo. The team needs him to be healthy so that they can play him so that he can hopefully develop some sort of trade value so the team can unload him elsewhere. Lugo needs to be healthy so that he can play and get out of Boston. I think Lugo is heading down the same path as Edgar Renteria. I don’t think he can handle the pressures of playing in Boston.
  • The Angels have one of the worst logjams of players in one part of the field that I have ever seen. Playing time needs to be shared between Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, Gary Matthews Jr., and Reggie Willits. Any way you configure the outfield you end up with someone sitting on the bench who should be playing. Hunter, however, is probably the only one of the group that deserves to play the field on a daily basis. The purpose behind resigning Rivera I never fully understood. I understand that at the time they had no way of knowing that Abreu would fall into their laps at such a low cost, but they already had four capable outfielders under contract in Hunter, Guerrero, Matthews, and Willits. The money spent on Rivera could have gone to fill a different need.
  • This is the first time in over 60 years that the same manager has been on the bench for the Red Sox for six consecutive season openers. Kind of speaks volumes to the work that Terry Francona has done since arriving in Boston doesn’t it? He is one manager that doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Quick Thoughts on an Opening

Tonight officially marked the opening to the 2009 baseball season. It also marks the official beginnings of my new blog. Who I am and why I’m writing this blog I will get into in due time. For now, this is just a brief post to mark the beginning and share some quick thoughts on the game tonight.

Atlanta’s offense looked great early on. The power display was coming from all parts of the lineup and they weren’t swinging at poor pitches at the plate. Simply put, Brett Myers was awful early and they took advantage of the opportunity which is ultimately something that team will have to continue to do to win in that division. For his credit, Myers did settle down well enough to give them six innings of work.

Derek Lowe looked great. Eight innings of two hit shutout baseball is a pretty good way to introduce yourself to a new fan base – even if you’re first game is on the road.

Jordan Schafer had a very nice MLB debut. His first at bat allowed him to become the 99th player in MLB history to hit a home run his first trip to the plate. He singled his next time at bat. And followed that with an intentional walk before getting blown away by a Brad Lidge slider. Not bad for a debut – 2 for 3, HR, BB.

The Braves won by a final score of 4-1. As I mentioned, Derek Lowe looked great but the Atlanta bullpen – or more specifically, Mike Gonzalez – didn’t look so hot. He was a little wild and put himself in a pressure situation that could have been avoided. That team is going to be looking for someone to step up at the back end of the bullpen. If not, they might have to go outside the organization to fill that hole.

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