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Opening Week Observations

  • One week down and many more to go.  The Marlins won one series and lost another.  All things considered, it was a good, but not great week.  While the Marlins didn't win as many games as one might have hoped, but many things were encouraging, including: Juan Encarnacion's power, the starting pitching, and relative success from the bullpen.
  • The White Sox had a great start to the year - at least relative to expectations.  They won series against both the Indians and Twins - teams that were almost always picked to finish ahead of them by pre-season prognosticators.  The Sox could have even opened the year with a five game win streak if not for a bullpen implosion in the final game of the opening series against the Indians.  Last night's loss - only the second of the year - to the Twins wasn't anything to be proud of, but you're going to run into the likes of a Johan Santana when he's on his game once in awhile.  Still, it would be nice to see the Sox keep their heads in the game for the full nine innings, even when they're down, and it got to be a little sad to see them so badly fooled by Santana's constantly changing speeds and pinpoint control.
  • So far so good with Josh Beckett - to say the least. Two starts and fifteen solid innings into the year and Beckett's ERA is 0.00. Yesterday's complete game was very encouraging - and in many ways similar to Dontrelle Willis's start on Friday, particularly considering how much time both pitchers spent on the basepaths.

  • After the Marlins knocked re-born (as a starter) Braves' ace John Smoltz out of his opening day start early (in the second inning) there was a considerable amount of conjecture that Smoltz might not have it anymore and that his spring training stats might have been something of a fluke.  Sunday's performance likely puts that to rest (15 strikeouts, no walks, and two earned runs in seven plus innings).
  • Speaking of the Braves, I used to respect them for being one of the few teams to stick to their guns (and ignore the marketing and merchandising revenue wisdom) and only use one white jersey at home and one gray jerse for road games.  This year though they've broken from that tradition and issued a red top to be used for hom Sunday-day games.  It's reminiscent of the Twins infamous "Dairy Queen" jerseys from a few years back.  The Braves wear a new cap with the red jerseys too - I find that somewhat more tolerable.  It's essentially a game version of the batting practice hat they've worn for the past few seasons.
  • The Marlins, on the other hand, who have always been particularly fond of various uniform combinations, appear to have scaled things back this year.  At least they have so far.  A new jersey could still emerge.  However, through the first six games of this season (all at home) the Marlins have only worn their pinstriped jerseys with "Marlins" across the chest, as well as their popular black jerseys.  The home tops with a fish covered "F" on the left chest and/or the sleeveless jerseys could still re-emerge, but I'm going to hold out hope that they've been retired.
  • Miguel Cabrera is as fun as anyone in the game to watch - at least while he's at the plate.  Cabrera is still something of a concern in the field. That should work itself out in time though. Keep in mind that Cabrera was signed as a shortstop, which he played for much of his minor league career. Eventually he was moved to third base in the minors, but when it became clear that Mike Lowell was going to be around for awhile Cabrera was moved to the outfield - in hopes that it would speed his path to the majors.  That worked out, but Cabrera simply as seasoned as your standard major league outfielder.  He's not yet 22 though, so he has plenty of time to get comfortable out there. Regardless, he's a monster at the plate. Every time he steps in the box you have to stay in your seat because Cabrera could be about to launch a 500-foot home run - and you wouldn't want to miss that.
  • With yesterday's 8 - 0 win over the Nationals the Marlins finally put to bed all the talk about them needing to score nine runs to win a game.  However, every game they've won has come via shutout.  While it would be nice to shutout the opponent each game, that probably won't happen 90 plus times this year, so the Fish will have to find a way to win when the pitching staff gives up a run or two or three.