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April 4, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

For Openers

by Joe Sheehan

The season so nice, they opened it twice....

The biggest and best news of the day came out of Atlanta, where Andres Galarraga completed his comeback from cancer by popping a tie-breaking home run to help the Braves beat the Rockies, 2-0. The Big Cat is rapidly becoming one of my favorite players, in part because he keeps proving me wrong. I wrote him off after his brutal 1992 with the Cardinals, after his poor 1995 with the Rockies and after he moved to the Braves after the 1997 season. Each time, he followed my predictions of doom with a big year.

Galarraga is, by most accounts, one of the game's nice guys. It's great to see that he has his health back, and while another 1998 is probably out of his reach, it will be nice to see him get another chance to play his way into a World Series with an Atlanta team certain to get into the postseason.

As expected, the St. Louis first baseman put on a power display...of course, it wasn't Mark McGwire, but last-minute sub Craig Paquette, whose three-run homer keyed the Cardinals' 7-1 win over the Cubs. Tony LaRussa's taste in bench players is a bit suspect, but Paquette isn't a bad guy to have around. He hits for some power and can play on every corner, plus be an emergency middle infielder. On a bench sporting Mike Matheny and Placido Polanco, he's one of the better options.

The Kansas Mafia--you know who you are--got an unpleasant kick in the head when import retread Jerry Spradlin conjured up the ghosts of 1999, serving up a game-winning bomb to the Blue Jays' Tony Batista. Spradlin's tateriffic performance followed three shutout innings by Chris Fussell and a four-run comeback by the Royals.

Kansas City has cleared out some of the dead weight on their roster, but there is still work to be done. As long as Spradlin, Brian Johnson, Ricky Bottalico and their ilk are cashing paychecks, this team will go nowhere. And inflict a lot of pain on its supporters in the process.

And the Yankee magic number is 162.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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