WTNYMarch 22, 2004
NL Ponderings
By Bryan Smith

Its been very difficult to post this last week, Im working extremely hard to put out pieces for the Hardball Times. Once the season starts I should get in a groove that will allow me enough time to do proper work for both, but right now Im hard at work over there. Keep checking in here though, as Im inclined to turn this place more blog-like, putting out multiple pieces a day. In the mean time, a run through each National League camp:

San Francisco: Jason Schmidts health is so key to this team, and he was scratched from his last start, as a precaution. San Diego likely didnt make up 30 games on this team, but if Schmidt cant start 30 games than it will be a tight race. Pedro Felix has added the shortstop position to his repertoire, which doesnt look good for you few Neifi Perez supporters. This shouldnt completely prevent Perez from getting the job, though Im praying Felipe Alou has enough common sense to give the job to Cody Ransom, I mean, at least hes Neifis younger

San Diego: Rotoworld is reporting Brian Lawrence is having some velocity problems with that fastball, so watch out, maybe Ismael Valdes will land a spot with this team. With Lawrence and David Wells in the rotation, health could be an issue in So Cal all year long. Khalil Greene won a job by default, which I guess is nice. I think Greene will be an average shortstop, hitting about .275 with 15 home runs annually. If they were considering Rey Ordonez than that must be music to Kevin Towers ears, huh?

Arizona: Luis Gonzalez is a timebomb, with some given amount of time before he lands on the 60-day DL. His offensive contributions are so key that when the bomb goes off, so do the Diamondbacks chances. One interesting Spring Training story is the out of nowhere performance by Casey Daigle, who might now just be the favorite for the fifth spot. Hes finished by the time Edgar Gonzalez is ready, but its a nice human interest Spring Training piece.

Los Angeles: Paul DePodesta simply must make a deal for a hitter this Spring Training, whether its Jay Gibbons or Richard Hidalgo. I mean, Paul Loduca in left field? Who thinks of this stuff? I like Edwin Jackson for the fifth spot, but hes one of the few sure things in this rotation. I mean, I think Jered Weaver is a much safer bet than his brother at this point.

Colorado: So Larry Walker is out indefinitely, leaving Rene Reyes to the outfield job that he deserves. I was a believer in Miles at second, Bellhorn at short, Atkins at third and Reyes in left, but instead the team brought in Damian Jackson, Royce Clayton, Vinny Castilla and Jeremy Burnitz. Walker is a huge piece of this team, and their quest to the NLs worst record (and the #2 pick in the 2005 draft) has already begun.

Chicago: Despite a sore Achilles, everything is going well in Cubdom. I would like it if Juan Cruz looked a little more ready to start the season, but I guess you cant always get what you want. And is anyone else depressed that Jimmy Anderson is going to be on the roster of the team that is Vegas NL favorite? Watching Sergio Mitre pitch last year made me think he would make a good reliever, and now it appears the team is going to give him a chance, as Mitre has probably moved past Todd Wellemeyer in the sixth reliever race, well ahead of Phil Rogers choice of Gary Glover.

Houston: I made a bet today, over/under on Pettites 2004 ERA. 4.20? What does everyone thinkover or under?

St. Louis: Plenty to talk about here. First of all, Tony La Russa is talking, again, about batting the pitcher eighth in the lineup. This makes no sense to me, especially on a team that is going to have a #6 hitter as talented as Reggie Sanders. To put Mike Matheny and Matt Morris behind a good doubles slugger like Sanders is a pity, and Sanders should pay them back with about 60 runs scored.

Ray Lankford, back from the dead, looks to have snagged the left field and leadoff duties, beating out Kerry Robinson. My thinking was that the team should play Pujols in left, start John Gall at first, and give up someone for Jerry Hairston. Instead Lankford has a job, the team gives up something for Tony Womack, and Hairston is out a month. Ouch.

Milwaukee: Yes, I believe it entirely possible for the Brewers to make a run at the fourth place crown this year. Doug Melvin is doing a lousy job of moving Junior Spivey, a player that in this market should have a decent market. I mean, the Cardinals arent in a dire enough situation to give up former Illinois right-hander Jim Journell, are they?

Pittsburgh: Last year Bobby Hill had to try not to land the Cubs 2B job, and remarkably, succeeded. This year, despite still fighting the back problems that have bothered him for more than one year, is likely being handed the 2B and leadoff duties. Also, are the Kris Benson and Jason Kendall rumors possibly getting to this team. Benson will probably be dealt by June 1, while I dont think Kendall is movable at this point.

Cincinnati: I really have nothing good to say here, there is just no optimism in Cincy this season. If they could possibly find a buyer for Ken Griffey, does it matter what they are asking.

Philadelphia: What is this I hear about Chase Utley possibly not making the team? OK, I can deal with Keith Ginter getting snubbed by Junior Spivey, but Utley not getting a job? Chase is a way for the Phillies to have twenty homers from the middle infield. Give Polanco the hot corner, and tell David Bell to swallow his pride and go back to the role he had with both San Francisco and Seattle.

Atlanta: Is Andy Marte this seasons Miguel Cabrera? Quite possibly. Luckily for the Braves there are no injuries to report this Spring Training, something Bobby Cox will have to strive to have all season long. By the way, Im buying Rafael Furcal as the best leadoff man in baseball.

New York: Kaz Matsui has come out swinging this Spring Training, notching three extra-base hits very quickly in his short career. Matsui should be right around the .295/.330/.445 projections that everyone seems to be making, which will make him a decent shortstop. Jose Reyes, currently out with a hamstring injury, is a much superior baseball player. Might the Rangers take Kaz instead?

Florida: What is this I hear about a changed delivery for Dontrelle Willis? That, and the Britney Spears concerts being cancelled, are easily the top two most disappointing things from Spring Training.

Expos: Who?


Over on Pettitte, without a doubt.

definitely Over on Pettitte.

Whats the deal with Ryan Madson? Will he make the team out of preseason? Will he do anything if he stays up?

Seriously where did you get that line? That would be shocking!!! I know the DH adds .5 run per game and going from facing Bos,Tor, and Bal to facing the NLC should be worth close to another half run. Going from the worst to one of the better infields can't hurt. His middle relief will be better this year than last year so that should save him a few inherited runners. The only negative for him is going from a 98PF park to a 104.