1. Was bringing up Starlin Castro in May instead of waiting until June the right move?
I was worried about rushing Castro at the beginning of the season. Now that I've had a chance to watch the kid play, I'm confident that he belongs. He's going to make his mistakes in the field at SS, including one game with 3 errors, but he shows a great ability to make contact and avoid the strikeout. I don't know if he'll be the star that so many predict him to be, but he's going to be a good player in this league.
2. Are Cub fans surprised to find themselves looking up at the Reds? The Dodgers found ourselves in the exact same position before they went on the
I've actually wondered why the Reds haven't been better sooner. They have a real nice core of young talent that I thought would shine a little earlier than it has. Right now our team is playing average baseball primarily due to great starts by guys we weren't expecting to get great play from (Fukudome, Fontenot, Soto, Soriano) and tough play by guys we were expecting more from (Zambrano, Lee, Ramirez). It's a strange year so far and it doesn't surprise me that we're battling with teams like the Reds or Pirates in the standings because of it.
3. Did Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Lee work out together this winter?
I'm not sure what is going on with Carlos Lee, but I believe Ramirez has been hurt of late. He says that his wrist / hand has not been the issue, but when your primary body part that is in charge of holding the bat is hurt you can't possibly swing normally or produce normally. I'd like to see Ramirez take the DL spot if for no other reason than to take a mental break and get away.
4. Seriously, Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have been two of the most consistent hitters in baseball, yet as we approach the end of May both are struggling big time. Injuries? Age?
Derek Lee got off to a terrible start last year and everyone, including me, was calling for Micah Hoffpauir to replace him in the starting lineup. One year later, Hoffpauir is in AAA struggling to hit his weight and Lee is coming off a last 2/3 of a season for the ages. He went from struggling to being absolutely on fire. I keep waiting for that hot streak to happen, but it hasn't. I'm holding out hope that it's just around the corner.
5. Any concerns with the drop in velocity for Ted Lilly since he's come off the DL?
Not at all. Lilly has been one of the best pitchers in terms of consistency and getting guys out since signing here. He's coming back from off-season shoulder cleanup and basically missed all of spring training. His velocity has slowly creeped back up of late and should continue to do so. Keep in mind, though, that Lilly is not a guy that is going to overpower you with his stuff. I can see him fitting into the mold of a Jamie Moyer in that he'll be a lefty that sticks around in this league if he wants to just because of his intelligence and mentality on the mound. He's able to get guys out with far less stuff than so many other pitchers in this league.