Monday, April 2, 2018

ten random thoughts: Week 1: March 26-April 1

This is the first weekly ten random thoughts post that will be published every Monday morning to start your weeks.

1. There are some very big early injury concerns. The big news came prior to opening pitch that Troy Tulowitzki will miss the first 2 months of the season with 2 bilateral bone spurs stemming from that ankle he sprained mid-season last year. Tulo missed all of spring training with the injury. He won't play until at least June. UPDATE: Troy Tulowitzki will undergo surgery on both feet to remove bone spurs. The other major concern was the shoulder of Josh Donaldson. It was revealed after the opening day game that JD has a dead arm. Every throw he made to first base was weak. Two throws bounced and one throw barely stayed in the air. If a fast runner is on the base paths, they would easily beat out all 3 throws. Look for Donaldson to DH as he tries to build up strength.

2. Spring training ended in the most fitting way possible. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a walk off HR. Of course, his dad played at the Big O for years as an Expo until he signed with the then Anaheim Angels (now the LA Angels). The younger Guerrero will start the season in Fisher at the double A level but if he continues to play like he did in spring training, it won't be long before he advances to Buffalo. He may even make his major league debut in September. Guerrero is the 3rd highest ranked prospect in baseball at this time. With him and Bo Bichette, the future looks bright in Toronto.

3. Montreal proved once again that they should be a top contender for relocation or expansion. Since 2015, the Blue Jays have played a pair of exhibition games in Montreal to end spring training. The support of the fans has been phenomenal with all games being sold out and the stadium has been LOUD! Montreal lost its baseball team after the 2004 season when they relocated to Washington. Montreal will have to either build a new stadium or completely revamp the playing surface. Montreal had among the worst field conditions and it's still horrible (turf over concrete).

4. A new stat to keep an eye on is mound visits. Each team is allowed 6 mound visits throughout the game without having to change pitchers and it doesn't matter if it's the pitching coach. manager, catcher or an infielder who initiates the visit. After 6 mound visits, each subsequent mound visit requires a pitching change. The move was made to shave off a few minutes of playing time. Baseball games usually take at least three hours to play. On opening day, the shortest game was the Cleveland Indians/Seattle Mariners game @ 2 hours 35 minutes. The longest game was 4 hours 2 minutes between the A's and Angels. There are multiple factors that influence the pace of play. If a pitcher is injured, the reliever has all the time they need to get ready. The amount of time it takes a team to get three outs (teams batting around), the number of pitches in each at bat, and how many extra innings are played. I think games are played at a good pace currently; three innings generally take an hour to play.

5. How about Kevin Pillar? He stole three bases on Saturday, including home plate as part of the Blue Jays rally. Yankees pitchers were extra cautious with him on Sunday throwing over to first base when he was on base.

6. Blue Jay of the week: Justin Smoak. He saved the Blue Jays first series vs. the Yankees. In the last 2 games of the series he was 6-8 with a double and 2 HR. On Sunday, he drove in 6 of the 7 Blue Jay runs. Smoak is smoking hot!

7. Weird injury of the week: Nelson Cruz spraining his ankle slipping on the dugout steps celebrating a HR. Baseball is notorious for players getting strange injuries. Reliever Ernie Camacho injured his elbow signing autographs. Back in 1924, Red Sox pitcher Clarence Blethen bit himself in the butt with his own dentures when they fell out sliding into 2nd base. Tom Glavine broke a rib vomiting.Check out some more freaky injuries here.

8. Modern day Babe Ruth: Shohei Ohtani. One of the of the most anticipated debuts was that of Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani. The Japanese import is attempting to become a modern day Babe Ruth, pitching every five days and also seeing time at DH. On opening day, Ohtani was 1-5 at the plate, singlling in his first MLB at-bat. He took the mound Sunday, throwing 6 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 runs (all earned), walking 1 and striking out 6. His fastball reached 99MPH. I still think that Angels management will try and convince him to stick to just pitching.

9. Early season weather woes. There have been some rain-outs and snow-outs this week. The White Sox and Royals saw their game cancelled due to snow accumulation on Sunday. The MLB purposefully schedules an off-day on the second day for some games. Of course that does nothing if the weather is perfect that day and it pours the next. Here was the scene at Jacobs Field in Cleveland opening day 2010. With global warming, it is becoming more common to see winter linger into April. Perhaps, baseball might need to start a couple of week later.

10. Bryce Harper is making an early case for that record contract everyone is saying he could be in line for. Harper homered twice and made a great catch in the field on Sunday. Harper is a free agent after this season. His Nationals are 1st in the NL East after sweeping the Cincinnati Reds on opening weekend.

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Happy Easter to all you readers