I am thankful that we are back to baseball...although I am still trying to get over the Giants beating the Rangers in the World Series last year. :-) Still, the Rangers are off to such a terrific start, they may very well end up back there again this year...which would be just fine with me. Nelson Cruz has hit four home runs in his first four games to tie a major league record. And it's not like he is the only Ranger hitting the cover off the ball...the Rangers had 9 home runs, feasting on Red Sox starters this past weekend. Meanwhile, the Red Sox started the season, 0-3, for the first time in 15 years. Their once-prized pitching staff struggled mightily last year. Aside from Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz having good years, former World Series winners Josh Beckett and John Lackey struggled.
The Orioles finished 2010 strong under new manager Buck Showalter, which is not surprising in one sense -- Showalter has had significant success as a manager in the past. If there is something surprising about their start, it is that the Orioles have been so bad for so long...their last winning season was 1997. Yet, they have picked up some good pieces in the off season in Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero to go along with Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, and others. They also have a good young pitching staff, Matusz, Guthrie, Bergeson, Arrieta, etc., reminiscent of the Rays a few years ago. Those Rays, who have been so good in recent years...minus Matt Garza, Carl Crawford and others...are winless. It's almost as if the Rays and Orioles have swapped teams...such is life in the MLB fast lane.
In the NL, the Phillies, Braves and Reds are off to good starts, predicatably. Yet, the defending champion Giants...who are 1-4...are having a hard time finding their chemistry just yet. The Milwaukee Brewers, who many predicted would win the Central, have been bit by the injury bug and have started the season 0-4. It is still very early, so no one should be writing off teams like the Brewers, Red Sox, Rays and Giants just yet. And I will say this for Bud Black, manager of the Padres -- I don't know how he does it, but he has San Diego at the top of their division early on. They led the NL West most of the way last year, much to nearly everyone's surprise. Before this season started, though, he lost his best player, Adrain Gonzalez, to the Red Sox and his best pitcher, Mat Latos, has been on the DL. So, I don't know if it's Black magic or a bud-ding genius...whatever it is...it is working for him. Stay tuned...