April 13, 2008
Every Given Sunday
Last week we looked at the surprise names on Opening Day rosters. This week, let's take a look at 10 players who did not make the final cut in spring training and are not currently on major league rosters who should make an impact at some point this season (listed in descending order of their projected WARP for 2008, according to PECOTA):
No owner was more opposed to the Montreal Expos moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals prior to the 2005 season than the Baltimore Orioles' Peter Angelos. Quite simply, Angelos didn't want a second team in the Washington/Baltimore market. However, Angelos has softened his stance and says he now does not mind if Orioles' fans cross over and catch an occasional National League game at new Nationals Park.
"There's no law against visiting the other franchise," Angelos told the Baltimore Sun. "One's a National League city and one's an American League city. Originally, I said they (Washington and Baltimore) were very close to each other. Nonetheless it is the nation's capital and the team is there and it ought to be supported, and hopefully both franchises will provide successful baseball."
Of course, Angelos has a pretty good reason to want the Nationals to be successful--money. He negotiated with Major League Baseball to gain the television rights to Nationals games before they landed in Washington. Angelos insisted he needed to secure those rights in order for his team to be viable financially over the long haul. The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is owned primarily by the Orioles, with the Nationals holding only a small stake.
"We definitely want them to succeed," Angelos said. "We're partners in the MASN baseball network, and we have an excellent relationship with the Lerner family (who own the Nationals) and with (club president) Stan Kasten, who is an old friend of mine."
Angelos can only hope that more people are watching the Orioles and Nationals on television than in person. The Nationals' second game in their new digs drew an announced crowd of 20,487, while the Orioles had a record-low attendance of 10,505 in their second home game of the season at Camden Yards. Angelos blames the lackluster early-season ticket sales on cold weather.
"We would have had very substantial crowds, the way we've been playing, had it not been for the weather," Angelos said.
Last week, we touched on San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy gambling with the talented young right arm of Tim Lincecum by scratching him from a start when rain threatened to delay a game against the Dodgers, using him in relief, and then bringing him back to pitch after a delay. New York Yankees manager and faithful BP reader Joe Girardi did something similar with a young pitcher of his own this past Wednesday, as he decided to scratch Ian Kennedy from his start at Kansas City.
Just before the playing of the national anthem, Kennedy was told to stop warming up. The rain in the area and an unfavorable forecast convinced Girardi that he wouldn't be able to get five or six innings from Kennedy. Instead, reliever Brian Bruney made his first major-league start and went two innings. Billy Traber pitched the third inning, and Kyle Farnsworth worked the fourth and fifth for his first multi-inning appearance since 2006. Kennedy then came on at the start of the sixth and pitched the final three innings. The plan didn't work, though, as the game went on without interruption and the Yankees lost.
"I didn't get fooled," Girardi insisted after the game. "It said once it started raining, it would be moderate-to-heavy. We knew if we started Ian we could only get two innings, and we might have trouble getting through the game."
Kennedy was less than thrilled by the whole situation.
"The best way I can describe it is just different," Kennedy said. "It was weird. I don't like it."
The Diamondbacks have set Pythagoras on his ear through the first two weeks of the season. Arizona has outscored its opponents 72-32 while getting off to a 9-2 start. Last year, the Diamondbacks bucked the Pythagorean theorem by winning the NL West despite being outscored 732-714 while finishing 14th in the 16-team league in runs scored. The Diamondbacks are averaging 6.55 runs a game so far this season, albeit in a small sample size, after scoring just 4.41 last year.
"We know the team is built on pitching and defense. You put an offense with that, it's a powerful combination," Diamondbacks left fielder Eric Byrnes said after his two-run, game-winning single this past Wednesday against the Dodgers. "We've been playing well, coming up with timely hits. We have a pretty good thing going. We think we are going to win every day. That's the attitude we have. This isn't a shock to anybody in here, especially when you see the offense come alive."
NL Rumors and Rumblings: San Diego is content to go with Colt Morton, called up from Class Double-A San Antonio this past week, as its backup catcher while Michael Barrett recovers from an elbow injury. However, if Barrett winds up missing an extended amount of time, the Padres plan to pursue Damian Miller as a free agent after he failed to land a job in the offseason … San Francisco has asked first baseman/outfielder Daniel Ortmeier to abandon switch hitting and to bat from his natural right side as the Giants continue to look for more power in their lineup … The Giants are going to give Fred Lewis an extended look in left field now that Roberts is on the disabled list … Manny Acosta and Peter Moylan will both likely get save opportunities for Atlanta while closer Rafael Soriano is on the disabled list with a sore elbow, an injury which leaves the Braves bullpen painfully thin … While infielder Felipe Lopez has looked good as a temp in left field, he will go back to the bench once Wily Mo Pena comes off the DL, which will likely happen this week … Geoff Blum will get most of the playing time at third base for Houston with Ty Wigginton on the DL … Astros manager Cecil Cooper plans to break up the long-time battery of pitcher Roy Oswalt and catcher Brad Ausmus, because he wants rookie J.R. Towles to start catching the ace of the staff.
AL Rumors and Rumblings: Detroit is desperate for pitching help, particularly in the bullpen, but has little left in its farm system to offer in trade after dealing a gaggle of prospects to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis last winter. Thus, the Tigers are interested in signing Kyle Snyder, who was designated for assignment by Boston, if he clears waivers, though Philadelphia and Tampa Bay also have interest … Another player designated for assignment, Oakland first baseman Dan Johnson, has the Yankees and Rangers interested … The Athletics are willing to trade right-handers Joe Blanton and Rich Harden, but want a large haul of young players in return … While Boston called up top infield prospect Jed Lowrie when third baseman Mike Lowell went on the DL this past week, first baseman Sean Casey will get most of Lowell's playing time, with Kevin Youkilis moving from first to third … Though Tampa Bay is going with a platoon of Nathan Haynes and Justin Ruggiano in right field with Cliff Floyd on the DL following knee surgery, the Rays are content with their outfield and not looking to make a trade … Sammy Sosa, who spent last season as a part-time designated hitter with Texas, did not receive any interest as a free agent in the offseason but is still holding out hope someone might call if a need arises.
Interesting facts as Week 2 of the regular season winds down: