Today I’m going to look around the landscape of baseball and point out a few of the more interesting tidbits as the clock winds down on this Wednesday.
Eric Byrnes went 1-for-4 on Wednesday to “raise” his average to .152. He did steal two bags and appears to be running very well after a lost 2008 because of hamstring issues.
D’backs, please start scoring some runs for Dan Haren. In his four starts this year the club has scored a total of three runs. As a result, instead of being the early favorite for the NL Cy Young, Haren is 1-3 despite a 1.38 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP.
Brandon Phillips is hitting .143 on the young season thanks to an 0-for-21 slump. As a result he has been dropped to sixth in the order. Miscast as a cleanup hitter, Phillips would likely be better served hitting second or fifth, but the Reds really don’t have a better option at the moment than Phillips. Dating back to August first last year, Phillips is hitting a miniscule .183 over 191 ABs. That isn’t a slump, it’s a trend. Oddly his struggles this year have come despite the fact that he has more walks (nine) than strikeouts (seven). You can blame his inordinately low BABIP mark of .147. When things normalize, the average should return to at least the .260 level.
CC Sabathia had another rough outing on Wednesday as he allowed six earned runs in 6.2 innings against the Athletics who entered the game hitting an AL worst .237 with the second worst OBP in the league at .309 (only the Mariners were worse at .305). Just like last season when he started slowly, Sabathia has had a very difficult time throwing strikes as he has struck out just 12 batters while walking 14 leading to a K/BB mark of 0.86 through four starts. Considering he owns a career mark of 2.63 and has posted a mark of at least 3.91 in each of the past three seasons, one has to figure things will turn around quickly. Still, his slow start cannot be leading to too many smiles in the Yankees’ front office or with those people who took Sabathia as their fantasy ace in 2009.
Jose Valverde has struggled a bit to start the year, and now he is dealing with a bruised right ankle and a strained calf muscle that he suffered on Tuesday night. At this point there isn’t necessarily a substantial worry that he will end up on the DL, but that is the LaTroy Hawkins train warming up in the station to take over in case Valverde cannot go. Here is my advise – you had better think long and hard about adding Hawkins in anything other than an NL-only league. Sure LaTroy posted solid numbers last year with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP over 62 innings, including some great work with the Astros (0.43 ERA, 0,73 WHIP, 25 K in 21 IP), but come on now we are talking about LaTroy Hawkins here. Dude has 77 saves and 47 blown saves in his career, and he hasn’t been given even 10 saves chances since the 2005 season when we has six saves and nine blown chances. For whatever reason, and it makes no sense, the man simply cannot come through in the ninth inning. It’s as simple as that. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it will be any different, even if Valverde ends up on the disabled list.
Barry Zito was 3-0 with a 3.21 ERA last year when Pablo Sandoval was behind the plate. On Wednesday Sandoval caught his first games of the year, with Zito on the hill, and he went seven shutout innings though it was against the Padres. The Giants aren’t ready to say it, but we might be getting awfully close to Pablo serving as the personal catcher for Zito, and that would be music to Sandoval’s owner’s ears if he doesn’t qualify as a catcher in your league at the moment (this was his first game behind the dish this season).