- Extensions for Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler. Both of these talented 2nd basemen will now play for their respective teams until 2017. Kinsler is getting $82 million from Texas and has an option for 2018 as well. He has been a plus defender, possessing a strong arm and excellent range. Kinsler also has excellent power and speed, especially for a 2nd baseman, twice hitting more than 30 homers and stealing more than 30 bases. Phillips is getting $72.5 million from Cincinnati, and like Kinsler, he is also good with the bat and the glove. He’s a 3-time Gold Glove winner, with 20 homer power and a .272/.322/.433 career slash. Phillips will be 36 when his contract finishes, so it may run past his prime, but he is still an excellent 2-way player. Both of these players are in the top-5 at 2nd base, and their contracts should play out nicely for Texas and Cincinnati.
- Cardinal’s offense sans Pujols. Quick name the highest scoring team in baseball? Could it be Detroit, with their fearsome heart-of-the-order. Nah, the best offense so far resides down by the river in St. Louis. (Although Detroit is 1st in average runs per game, St. Louis has played 2 more games.) 6 regulars are hitting over .300, led by the impressive David Freese. Freese has continued his hot hitting from the 2011 playoffs, currently leading baseball in RBIs and is hitting .444/.464/.778 with 3 dingers. Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman, and the newly acquired Carlos Beltran have been excellent around Freese, combining for 5 doubles, a triple, and 5 homers. This offense hasn’t missed Pujols one bit and is easing the burden on a rotation that is missing Chris Carpenter.
- Fun Around the League. Houston pulled out some fantastic looking Colt .45 throwback jerseys yesterday against Atlanta. I think they should scratch the Astros name and go back to Colt .45’s, with these jerseys, when they move to the AL in 2013. They are the sharpest-looking throwbacks in baseball. Elsewhere, the Kansas City Royal’s Jeff Francoeur had some fun with the fans out in Oakland during a rain delay last night. It was the 2nd Annual Bacon Tuesday in Oakland, and Francoeur, being a lover of bacon, took action. He tossed a ball, wrapped with a C-note, to some A’s fans and instructed them to get him some bacon. They came back with said bacon, gave him a t-shirt, and dedicated the celebration to him. Francoeur is a fun player, who really enjoys baseball, and always keeps things lively.
- Mark Trumbo’s Transition to 3rd Base. With the signing of Albert Pujols and the return of Kendry Morales, many wondered what the Angels would do to get the talented Trumbo playing time. He was the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up last year, and has solid homerun power, so it is important to get his bat in the lineup. In Spring Training, LA worked Trout at 3rd and has given him 2 starts at the position so far. Trumbo has looked horribly out of sorts, making 3 errors in 18 innings of playing time. Most of Trumbo’s talent is tied up in his ability to drive the ball, because he doesn’t hit for a high average, draw a good number of walks, or play good defense. He may find himself stuck on the bench, because the Angels have Alberto Callaspo, who is an above-average defender with a league-average bat.
- Minnesota’s offense. On the opposite end of the spectrum from St. Louis, we have the Minnesota Twins. The offense has been completely anemic, preventing the team from winning even one of their 1st four games. The team is hitting a collective .165/.252/.240 which all rank in the bottom 3 in baseball. Six regular players, including Joe Mauer, are hitting under .200 and the team has scored 6 total runs in 4 games. Minnesota does not have a strong enough pitching staff to support such an anemic offense, and if things continue along this path, it will be a long season in the Twin Cities. One positive in the lineup is Justin Morneau, who doesn’t appear to be having any ill-effects from his concussion syndrome, hitting .308/.400/.462. Hopefully he can keep that production up, because Morneau is an MVP candidate if healthy.
- Ozzie Guillen’s Mouth. When the Marlins hired Guillen in the offseason, it wasn’t a question of if he would say something stupid, but when. Well, one week into his 1st season in South Beach he has already been suspended for 5 games for comments about respecting Fidel Castro. Well I don’t think he should have been fired, the suspension seems just a little too light. The Marlins should have expected this kind of nonsense when they made the hire. Guillen has always said anything and everything when talking to the media, and he has finally topped himself with his latest idiotic comments.