Hey, baseball fans. Coming at you now with Part 2 of my discussion of the impending baseball season with your friend and mine, Tripp. Last time, we talked about Timmy and trades. This time, we cover promising youngsters, injured veterans, and a secret caveat to my Yankee fandom. Let’s get started…
You correctly predicted at this time last year that Joey Votto was a new face to watch. Any such predictions yet for 2011’s most impressive rookies?
Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, though not a rookie, is someone to keep an eye on. He won the batting title last year; but because he plays with Colorado, he continues to fly under the national radar. Mike Stanton of the Marlins is another guy who, though not a rookie, seems poised to do big things. From what I have read, he is a monster of a human being. Domonic Brown, with the Phillies, is another player with a lot of buzz. He is having a rough spring (1 for 16 at the plate), but with the departure of Jayson Werth, Brown is talked of as the heir apparent to the Phillies’ right field spot.
As a Mariner fan, I’ve been hearing a lot about two guys: Dustin Ackley, an infielder, and Michael Pineda, a right-handed pitcher who throws the ball very fast. We’ll see if either of those guys makes the club coming out of spring training.
And, last but not least, I would be remiss to omit catcher (supposedly now outfielder) Bryce Harper from this list.
You mentioned Harper briefly in the first part of our discussion. Care to educate me further?
Touted as the LeBron James of baseball, Harper chose to forego the final two years of his high school career to earn his GED and enroll at a junior college in what would have been his junior year. What was he able to do there, swinging a wood bat at the collegiate level at the age of 17? He hit a meager .443, with 31 home runs and 98 RBI… in 66 GAMES. It wouldn’t be fair to place too much expectation on Harper’s shoulders, but it will be exciting to see what he is able to do in the years to come. (Note: Harper hit .389 this spring for the Nationals. Last week, he was assigned to the Nationals’ Class A minor league team. Harper’s rumored last words to Nationals’ manager Jim Riggleman before leaving for the minor league squad: “I’ll see you in July.”)
A few players are notably struggling to get back in the game after significant injuries; guys like Justin Morneau and Carlos Beltran. Do you think these guys, or any others in their situation, are going to make or break their teams this season?
I know the Mets are a sensitive subject with you, considering your soft spot for Mr. Wright.
Yes, it’s true. Forgive me for interrupting, but I have to clarify that statement for my readers, especially if that small group just so happens to include a certain New York Yankee: David Wright is my second favorite third baseman. I mean, look at that All-American punim. How could you not love him?
I’m sorry. Continue.
I don’t think Carlos Beltran’s struggle to return will make or break the Mets’ chances this year. Similarly, the absence of Johan Santana at the beginning of the year will hurt the Mets; but it’s not as if a healthy Santana would put the Mets atop the NL East.
So you’re saying…
In other words, I don’t think there will be anything to make or break in Queens.
To prove that I’m not a New York hater, I’ll say the same about the Mariners, my hometown team. Year Two of the Milton Bradley experiment, and the renewed return campaign of the very talented left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard, won’t matter because the Mariners’ disorder has rendered them irrelevant before the season has even started.
The Mariners have a disorder?
Officially diagnosed as Haven’tbeentotheplayoffssince2001itis.
So is there anyone who will be making an impact by being absent?
Justin Morneau. The Twins need all the offensive production Morneau can provide, especially since their move to the cavernous, open-air Target Field. Chase Utley’s nagging injury will impact the Phillies’ start, but the strength of Philadelphia’s lineup will likely insulate them from any significant drop-off.
Another offensive producer who has been sidelined is Grady Sizemore. What do you suppose was, or will be, more of a hindrance to him: his injury, or the publication of artfully posed near-nude photographs he sent to a female admirer?
Oh goodness. I hadn’t even heard of this until you mentioned it. I will say this: he’s from Washington, so he has to be a decent guy. I’ll give him a pass.