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2004 Start of the Season Comments
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AL Only: Rays' 3B, Os' SP, MVP/ROY, Damn Yankees

Amazingly few surprise position players took jobs away from expected regulars this spring. Can you think of anyone? Third base in Tampa Bay was up-for-grabs, but the consensus favorite Geoff Blum did not beat out the incumbent experiment there: Damian Rolls. It was more of a surprise to me that a speedy outfielder such as Rolls has adapted so well to a normally sluggers` box type position as third base. Ryne Sandberg seemed to have more skills appropriate for third base than either Blum or Rolls, and he was the youngest of the four candidates. It looks like the Rays had a closed mind about him and he was naive to re-sign with them. The fourth candidate Fernando Tatis easily ``owned`` the most skills of all, but apparently, injuries have taken them away.

 

On the pitching side, it seems the only significant surprise was the late season 2002 Tommy John surgery-repaired prospect Eric Bedard beating out Rodrigo Lopez for a spot in the Orioles` rotation. This kid grew up in a town east of Ottawa, which had no high school baseball team. He walked onto a small community 2-year college`s baseball team (Norwalk, CC, Conn.) and brought them to the Junior College Division III World Series.

 

The Rookie of the Year honour is already just a two-man race. Who`s it going to be Joe Mauer or Bobby Crosby?

 

The American League MVP award, last year, was a close race amongst a large field. Well, I wouldn`t have hesitated to vote for Alex Rodriguez as he clearly was the MVP in my estimation and had deserved to be so recognized many times before. However, Roy Halladay, Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Carlos Beltran, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon, Nomar Garciaparra, Bret Boone, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Keith Foulke had MVP type years as well as nearly did Tim Hudson, Pedro Martinez, Estaban Loaiza, Jamie Moyer, Corey Koskie, Eric Chavez, Hank Blalock, Magglio Ordoņez, Frank Thomas, Dmitri Young, Milton Bradley (if healthier), and Aubrey Huff. Along with ARod, my favorites this year would be Beltran & Blalock. Jorge Posada was my no. 2 choice last year, but he`s not going to get the award batting eighth as he has been placed this year by Joe Torre.

 

ARod and Torre, etc. bring me to talk-of-the-off-season: those damn Yankees. How outrageously unsporting of the Yankees to flaunt their money so! This is what we want, however. We want a team to loathe and cheer against - for positive reasons: they are the arrogant favorites. What`s more, it looks to me, thanks to their arrogance, that they will surely find a way to lose. They are so arrogant; they seemed unconcerned many of their players are too old and hobbly to play their positions: namely Giambi, Williams, Jeter, and even Matsui. They are so arrogant; they acquired another old guy (Kenny Loften) to help them out. They are so arrogant; they acquired a ground ball pitcher (Kevin Brown), who they think will continue to do fine with that hobbly defense behind him. They are so arrogant; they are letting the well deserving gold glove shortstop Alex Rodriguez play third base instead of the worse fielding starting shortstop in baseball: Derek Jeter. They are so arrogant; they are giving the starting second base job to a guy so old and hobbly, he should be retired by now: Enrique Wilson!

John Carter