Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Trot Around the Diamond

1st Base:
In some afternoon baseball action on Wednesday, Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier extended his April hitting streak to 24 games. This adds to his major league record for hitting streaks to begin a major league season. Ethier has always been a very nice player, and is performing above and beyond his expectations in 2011. Currently, the 2010-All Star has a batting line of .379/.454/.537 for a ridiculous OPS of .991 and has 1.1 WAR early in the year. Ethier is a career .294/.367/.492 hitter, with a career .859 OPS. This indicates that Ethier is hitting above his actual ability, and should regress to the mean at some point this year. While I don't think he will be able to sustain the ridiculous production he is putting up thus far, I think this could very well be a career year for the 29 year old outfielder. Ethier is in the walk year of his contract, and has indicated he could very well be out of LA next year. He is playing for a big contract, and that usually means bigger production. Ethier is also being protected by Matt Kemp, who is also having a career year. If Kemp can keep his production up, this should mean more pitches for Ethier to see, since no one will want to walk him to see Kemp. Keep an eye out for Ethier around All-Star week.

2nd Base:
Roy Oswalt is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Philadelphia Phillies. Last night, Oswalt, who is a member of the Super-Rotation in Philly, pitched three largely ineffective innings before being yanked by Charlie Manuel. After the game, it was clear that Oswalt could not concentrate on the mound. It turns out that he will be heading to his Mississippi home today to ensure his families safety after the disastrous tornadoes hit the area around his home. I know I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that all of my thoughts and prayers are with Oswalt, his family and anyone who has been affected by these tornadoes. This serves as a reminder that baseball is just a game, and Oswalt exemplified that by putting his family's safety before the game.

3rd Base:
Before this season Major League Baseball instituted a new seven-day disabled list for players who were suffering from concussions. The last year or to have served to remind people across all of sports just how dangerous head injuries can be. During batting practice on Tuesday in Milwaukee, Brewers utility man Erick Almonte was hit in the forehead by a ball thrown by Craig Counsell. Almonte says that he doesn't remember being hit, and was the first player placed on the seven-day DL. It will be interesting to see if his symptoms are indeed cleared up by the time this DL stint is over. It is a Grade 1 concussion, which usually has symptoms lingering for 5-7 days. MLB did a great job with this new ruling, and it is already being utilized less than a month into the season.

Home Plate:
The Twins star catcher and 8 year, $184 million man, Joe Mauer, is eligible to come off of the 15-day DL today. He was originally placed on the disable list because of bilateral leg weakness on April 14th. Twins GM Bill Smith says that a case of the flu held back his rehab a week. Whether or not the sickness had any major affect on his rehab, Joe Mauer would be best served to move to the outfield. He has been a catcher all his life, and I'm sure he would show some resistance to the move at first. However, the catching position is too rigorous of one for such a huge investment. Joe Mauer is the face of the franchise and the Twins hope he can be the focal point of their offense for the better part of the next decade. In order for this to happen, they need to move him to a position that will produce less wear and tear on his body. There is a reason that almost none of the top hitters of all time are catchers, and that is because teams move their best hitters to less stressful positions. The Nationals already did that with 18-year old phenom Bryce Harper, who is projected to be a left fielder. The Twins signed Mauer to the mega-extension for his bat, and should make this move to preserve said bat for as long as possible.

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