Monday, April 14, 2008

Jason Kendall for MVP

It was the first Red Sox/Yankees series of the year featuring the two statistically worst hitters in baseball, Jason Giambi and David Ortiz. Pedro goes to the DL, Randy comes back, and Doug Davis makes a courages 6-inning start two days before having his thyroid gland removed. The Cardinals are still raking, the young D-Backs are going yard at a record pace, and so far it looks like AL East MIGHT be more than a 2-horse race this year for a change. Much like Stephen Drew coming onto the scene last year and rivaling his much-hyped-never-quite-delivered bro J.D., "J-Up" looks poised to be even better than his older brother, B.J. Upton. Dice-K came back down to earth with a typical all-over-the-place start on Sunday Night.

I attended one game last week, a battle between the Reds and Brewers at Miller Park, the only game of the series the Crew won and their only lost series to date so far. Jeff Suppan gave a solid performance, and despite blowing another save, Gagne looked pretty stellar (he's never shaking off Jason Kendall again). Bill Hall continued his dominance of Reds pitching, and Ryan Braun still refuses to take a walk. The story of that night though was the amazing pitching of rookie Johnny Cueto. This kid has kind of come in under the radar (except to the die-hard Reds fan), particularly with the expectations surrounding Homer Bailey. Although he struggled a bit in his start yesterday, in his previous two he had pitched 13 innings, gave up no walks and struck out 18. It's gonna be fun to watch this kid and Yovani Gallardo develop this year.

At this point I should probably write something about Kendall since he's in the subject of this post. Jason Kendall has probably single-handedly gotten us at least 3 wins and has vastly improved the morale, defense, and hitting approach of the entire team. He has thrown out every runner attempting to steal 2nd this year, he is a superb caller of the game, and did I mention he is DESTROYING all opposing pitchers!?!? The man is still leading the majors with a .406 average, which was brought down slightly this weekend, as he only could muster a measely 3 hits against the Mets. This is what I love most about the game - guys like Gabe Kapler and Mark Reynolds have just as much chance to go yard on any given day as Big Papi, guys like Jason Kendall can out hit guys like Ichiro - as Jason says, "see the ball hit the ball" - and in the ultimate parody, teams like the Royals and White Sox can come storming out of the gates. Any team can win on any given day with any payroll, and any team is perfectly capable of winning 80 games in any given season. Not even the most devout and informed fan could have predicted that the Brewers would get embarrassed by a guy who hadn't started a game in 3 years (Nelson Figeroua), but that we would beat arguably the best pitcher in baseball Johan Santana and that we would dominate Oliver Perez the next day, who hadn't given up a run all year up to that point.

A couple things in closing:
(1) Evan Longoria got called up this week by the Rays - keep an eye on this kid.
(2) Watch as the Cards and Brewers make history this week, as they may very well be the first two teams ever to meet that both batted their pitcher in the #8 spot.

Brewers 8-4 (3 @ Cardinals, 3 @ Reds)
Reds 6-7 (3 @ Cubs, 3 v. Brewers)
Twins 6-6 (2 @ Tigers, 2 v. Rays, 3 v. Indians)

Erik - 7
Peter - 4

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