We have now had baseball for over two weeks and it’s been GLORIOUS. The weather here in New York maybe be a bit gloomy for April, but it still warms my cold, dead heart to be able to watch baseball on a daily basis. The 2018 season has not disappointed in its first week, and while it’s WAY too early to definitive make any predictions as to what’s going to happen down the line… I’m going to make some calls.
What has gone right, wrong and is too early to tell for our MLB teams? Buckle up, I’m going in to find out.
As of publishing time, the New York Mets sit atop the NL East. We’ve done it. Stop the season! We’ve done it.
In all seriousness, the Mets should not be 9-1, if anything they should be 5-5, which is where the Washington Nationals sit. The impressive thing is how the Mets have put together a solid lineup with guys who seemed shaky going into the season.
I mean, in a lineup that features Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez, did you expect the Mets to be atop the NL East? If you answered yes to that question, take a long hard look in the mirror and then come back to reading this.
This incredible start is all because of Mickey Callaway, who has proven that he is going to play to the Mets strengths, not force their weaknesses. For example in Sunday Night’s win against Washington Callaway decided to load the bases and pitch to Michael Taylor with two outs. That meant putting Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner on and praying that this works out. By praying that things work out, I mean that Mickey Calloway put Seth Lugo in a position he knew he could get out of. Other Mets managers would have probably walked Kendrick and tried to get Turner to hit into a double play.
Instead, Mickey puts speed on the bags with the game on the line, and says to Seth Lugo, “do your job and get these two outs.” Mickey Calloway has breathed life into the Mets and I don’t care if it’s just X games into the season.
Andrew called us out for not reporting on the Mets And there’s a reason for that: I’m super superstitious, not just a little-stitious. It’s early, and the Mets are relatively healthy, with only Anthony Swarzak being the exception. The last time the Mets took off early in the year was 2015, capping their first home start off with a long winning streak. Even then, in a year when they would eventually end up in the World Series, the Mets struggled through the dog days of June and July. Lest we forget, John Mayberry, Jr. hit cleanup the day before the Yoenis Cespedes trade went down. For real, when I started writing this piece the Mets had two healthy catchers. Now both of them are out for the next two weeks.
There’s a lot of baseball to play, please for the love of God remember that, but if this Mets team keeps playing up to Callaway’s standards, they’ll be great to watch down the stretch.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are on fire. We all thought they’d be a dumpster fire, but something interesting is happening on the Allegheny. The Pirates a refusing to accept that fate. Currently sitting atop the NL Central at 9-3, the Bucs seem to have remembered that they’re JAM PACKED with young stars, especially that pitching staff. Jameson Tallion was named NL Player of the Week and that’s not a fluke, he was nasty. You pair that with the other young arms like Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasgow and this team begins to look terrifying.
It’s also amazing to think that this team shipped out their two best players this offseason and somehow are competing this well already. I wrote about this early in the offseason, but it looked like a rebuild back then. It now looks like the Bucs front office cleared a logjam, giving way for their youth to flourish.
Welcome to another edition of “Justin Colombo Eating Crow.” The Red Sox have shown up in a way that not too many anticipated: with their arms. Sure Chris Sale has been as advertised in his first starts of the season, but the rest of the pitching staff has come through, specifically Rick Porcello, David Price and Brian Johnson. The only advantage the Sox have over their division rival New York Yankees is their solid pitching staff, with the exception of whatever happens to Price moving forward.
The Red Sox need to create distance between them and the Yankees now, so when they eventually backtrack they can rely on their positioning to get them to the playoffs. It’s what helped them out in 2016 and 2017, and it’ll help them out this year. It’s not a matter of winning every game for the Sox, it’s about winning. More than the Yankees. I know, you guys, this is the in-depth analysis you come to The Turf for.
The Washington Nationals entered this season being favored to win the NL East for the fourth year in a row. Those four years have seen them miss the playoffs and make first-round exits. While the Nationals always look like perennial favorites for a deep run in the playoffs, that future only exists on paper. In practice, the Nationals would have to play on all cylinders for that to happen. Yes, they have a solid three starters in Scherzer, Strasburg, and Gonzalez, but the bullpen remains an issue as does the health of the team as a whole. It’s starting to look like we’ll be discussing the Adam Eaton trade in a few years and using words like “worst trade of all time to describe it.
So what’s the problem in Washington? Well, they have a hefty disabled list.
Let’s take a look at some bullet points:
- Clayton Kershaw started the season 0-2 for the first time since 2009.
- Kenly Jansen looks shaky in the closer spot.
- Cody Bellinger’s sophomore slump has shown up early.
- Corey Seager is struggling to find himself at the plate. Continuing his woes from last year.
- The Dodgers are a game above the Padres, and 4.5 behind the Diamondbacks.
I am a big fan of hometown broadcast booths. I always have been and I always will be. While I do think it’s way too much to bring headphones to listen to a delayed call of the game by your favorite voices, I do think it’s important to have someone with knowledge of the team be able to call the games.
I honestly believe that the #2 reason people hate Joe Buck calling the World Series, right behind he sucks and has a huge forehead, is that he’s not your guy. I will always be for having the two teams broadcast booths calling the game against each other. That’s the dream. Can you imagine how fun that would be?
So we had our first Facebook Live MLB broadcast this week and I’m here to say it sucked and it sucked HARD.
Regardless of your political stances, we can all agree that Facebook is in a bit of hot water right now. The last thing I want them to mess with is baseball. I am fine with a simulcast, but don’t take a Noah Syndergaard start from me because it’s on Facebook. Don’t do that.
And then there’s the question of was it actually worth it? I’d venture to say no, but don’t take my word for it. Here are the stats touted by MLB and Facebook about the broadcast. It has 3.3 million views. Great! Those views are counted as people who watched for at least 3 seconds. Not Great!
When I worked for the Mets they mentioned something very interesting. The reason ballparks want to give you the best experience is that A) you’re a fan of the team giving them money, but also B) you can get the similar product with the comfort of your favorite broadcasters and your own couch and home for less money. The TV product is outstanding, the Facebook product was subpar. Stop the experiment. No one’s gonna watch a Facebook game at 1:05 on a Wednesday. Come on.
Too Early to Call
Okay, I can hear you already, all of these things are way too early to call, but there are teams that need time to mature and revamp in order to succeed. Some teams will settle into their stride and some teams will set unreal expectations. We’re going to explore those teams, starting with…
STOP SCREAMING AT ME. Listen, I’m as a big a fan of this lineup as I can be being a Mets/Red Sox fan, but there’s going to come a time where this lineup stops working the way it should. I mean, we’re already a week in and it seems like the only person really gaining an advantage from this lineup is Didi Gregorius.
So the crux of this lineup is Didi? That’s not gonna last too long for this Yankees squad. The book on how to pitch to Judge has been written, the book on Stanton is being written and Gary Sanchez is a volatile hitter at the plate. This lineup is gonna crack and it’s gonna take Yankee fans by surprise. I mean, Stanton strikes out 5 times on Opening Day and gets booed, so what will happen if he slumps?
The Yankees suffered a devastating loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday, going down 14-1. Some celebrated this as a huge defeat against the narrative that the Yankees are going to run the table with their loud bats. However, their 10-6 win against the Sox on Wednesday halts that celebration entirely. The Yankees are not going to win with the long ball, they’re going to win with extra-base knocks with their feared hitter on base. look forward to more hits like Giancarlo Stanton’s first-inning triple from Wednesday. That’s how this Yankees team will dominate.
MLB moved up its season by one week in 2018, and I don’t hate it. I do hate how much weather has played an issue in these games.
Fernando Rodney was eating snow mid-game in Pittsburgh. Every player looks like they are about to rob a bank. Games are being pushed back and eventually postponed due to seasonal weather that wasn’t an issue in past years. Call it a bad week for baseball, but you can also call it poor scheduling. However, if cold games in March/April translates to warmer games in October, I’m all for it.
I am all about Shohei Ohtani changing the way we think about the game and the way it’s played, however (and we’ll have more on this next week) I don’t think this run of success will last long. I’ll give you a few names to consider: Kenta Maeda, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hirohito Kurosawa, Shigetoshi Hasegawa. All of these guys came in a seemingly flamed out way earlier than expected. We’ll get more into this next week, but history isn’t kind to Japanese pitchers not named Hideo Nomo.