TWIB Week One - Non Dodger Edition

Eric covers the Dodgers in detail, Brandon does the Dodger minor league beat, Chad is the prospect profile guru, along with his great gi's. so I'm searching for my own niche here.  At the moment I'll concentrate on baseball not related to the Dodgers.

The unconventional week one is in the book, and after 3/4 games depending on your team plenty of interesting tidbits to be found.

American League:

The Angels bullpen was out pitched by the KC bullpen enabling the Royals to take three of four games including a marathon 13 inning affair yesterday.  With the infusion of new talent many expect the Royals to field a competitive team in a few years but they may be shortening that schedule.  The rotation has a ways to go but adding Jeff Francis was a good start.  The bullpen added two new arms this spring that might be the envy of baseball. Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are night and day. Crow was a 2009 1st round pick while Collins was a 2007 undrafted free agent. If anyone caught Collins act this weekend they saw a diminutive left hander with electric stuff who finished the weekend with 6 K's in four innings. Watching Collins pitch is like watching a little leaguer until the ball leaves his hand, then the 92 MPH fastball has some wicked movement, combined with his change, the hitters have yet to figure him out. The number of undrafted major leaguers is small enough but to be only 21 is kind of un heard off to be pitching in the major leagues. In fact if any one wants to do the research who was the last un-drafted, draft eligible player to make it to the major leagues at the age of 21? At the moment Collins is generating the attention but dont' forget about Crow, he's getting his feet wet in the bullpen but expect him to eventually progress to the rotation. He's been lost under the radar of the more ballyhooed KC prospects but for most teams he'd be the talk of the system.

For the Angels they have to be scared about the lack of progress by Scott Kazmir who continues to be an anchor(bad kind) to their rotation. Along with the troubled Rodney as their closer this team might need to reconfigure their staff if they hope to hang with the Rangers. The good news for the Halos is that Abreu has taken to the DH role like a duck to water. Lost in the marathon game yesterday was Bobby Abreu getting on base seven times, via five hits, two walks.

Texas doesn't have a rotation to frighten anyone but they have more bats then they know what to do with. I look at the roster and see thee bona fide MVP candidates in Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz. Kinsler  became the first player in baseball history to hit lead off home runs the first two games of the season. He was not up to the task of doing that in game three, so he simply hit his 3rd home run in three games. Nelson Cruz didn't get to lead off but he also pounded three home runs in three games. In all the Rangers destroyed the vaunted Red Sox rotation en route to their three game sweep.  I heard that Kinsler and Cruz were the first duo to hit home runs in the first three games of a season on the same team but not sure if that is accurate.

Joining the Red Sox at the bottom of the East with a 0-3 start are the Rays, courtesy of being swept by the young pitching of the Orioles.  The Rays had nothing to show with their bats against the likes of Guthrie,  Chris Tillman (23), and Zach Britton (23). In 20 innings the threesome allowed only one earned run.   Add in the Rays have lost Evan Longoria for three weeks and April could be a killer month for them. Manny had only one single in 12 at bats over the weekend, he was busted in and seemed unable to defend himself. For the Orioles they are in 1st place, take a picture it won't last long but for Oriole fans they can take solace that the winning ways from the 2nd half of 2010 have spilled over into 2011.

National League:

The Astros already figured to be the worst team in baseball this year so it wasn't fair they had to face the vaunted big three of Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt to start the season. In predictable fashion the Phillies swept the Astros into last place where they will probably remain for the remainder of the season.

The other team to start the season 3 - 0 was the Cincinnati Reds who did it by pummeling the Brewer pitching staff to the tune of a 1.053 OPS. The offense was not led by Jay Bruce or Scott Rolen but the dynamic catching duo of Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan. Hernandez got things rolling for the Reds by hitting a dramatic three run walk off home run against Brewer closer Axford to win game one. Combined the two catchers went 9 for 12 with three home runs and seven runs batted in. That will probably be a months worth of production from the Dodger catchers.

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