Home MLB'Weekly' Hit Ground Ball 2007 – Week 21

2007 – Week 21

by Matt Smith

The laws of the universe dictate that some people will have a good week, and some will have a bad one. Here’s a review of this week’s winners and losers.

The good news first – Wednesday was a big day for Dave Trembley. After twenty years in the Minor Leagues, he finally became a Big League manager on a full-time basis. The Orioles announced that the “interim” part of his title could be thrown away as Trembley received a contract to manage the Orioles for the 2008 season, with an option for 2009. You will remember that Joe Giradi was initially offered the job virtually days after previous manager Sam Perlozzo was shown the door at the end of June. Giradi turned it down and maybe that will be a blessing in disguise for the Orioles. It has certainly been a big break for Trembley, but few would deny him his chance. He made a favourable impression during his two-month period as interim manager and he has certainly earned his shot.

Then the bad news – How have things gone so far for Trembley? “Room for improvement” would probably be the nicest way to put it. His reign could hardly have started any worse. Mere hours after the press conference, Trembley could only sit and watch as his team were pounded for 30 runs by the Texas Rangers. Their 3-30 defeat (during which the Orioles actually jumped out to a 3-0 lead) was the worst in franchise history and was the first time a team has conceded thirty runs in over 110 years. The Orioles then lost to the Rangers again in the second game of the doubleheader and have followed that two-loss day with three more defeats. So, five games in and Trembley has a 0-5 record, with his team being outscored 17-59. No one said it would be easy.

Teixeira doing his share – The Orioles know that it will take time to turn things around and, while managers are important, the best way to improve your team is by bringing in quality players. That’s why Atlanta were prepared to part with several prospects to acquire Mark Teixeira. The first baseman has lived up to his billing since joining the Braves on deadline day. He’s hitting .303/.406/.697 with Atlanta and had a particularly impressive week. It began with two homers last Sunday, followed by another pair on Monday. Overall he was 12 for 28 on the week, with seven walks, five homers and fifteen RBIs. Unfortunately for the Braves, Tex hasn’t been able to carry the team on his own. Atlanta have lost seven of their last ten and have slipped to seven games behind the Mets in the NL East.

Hamels hits the DL – While additions to a team can play a major part in deciding a pennant race, so can losses through injury. The Phillies have followed Atlanta’s lead recently and let the Mets surge ahead. They’ve just about been able to cope with the untimely loss of Chase Utley over the past few weeks, but seeing Cole Hamels head to the disabled list is a real blow to their post-season aspirations. Losing a starter is slightly different to losing an everyday position player: Hamels will hopefully only miss two starts. Those two games could end up being decisive though. The Phills have now lost six of their last seven games and are in danger of seeing another season slip away.

The DL hokey-cokey – The Braves have also had some bad luck with injuries. Edgar Renteria came off the 15 day DL on Wednesday, faced one pitch and then went straight back on it again. The Braves’ shortstop had been hobbled by an injury to his right ankle, yet he returned to the lineup having completed various fielding drills and batting practice without any side effects. The one thing Renteria hadn’t practised was checking his swing and it was this action that somehow set the injury off again.

Seven seasons and counting – A former team mate of Renteria’s from his days in St Louis is continuing to play through injuries. Albert Pujols is dealing with a hamstring problem, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting him at the plate too much. Pujols homered in five straight games this week and became the first player in Major League history to hit at least thirty home runs in each of his first seven seasons. That Pujols has performed at such a level despite rarely taking to the field completely healthy is remarkable.

10 RBIs for Anderson – Sticking to the injury theme, Garret Anderson has battled through more than his fair share of injuries over the past few seasons, but he tried to make up for lost time with his performance against the Yankees on Tuesday. Anderson went 4 for 6, hitting two homers and two doubles while racking up ten RBIs. A-Rod went deep twice for the Yankees and, strangely enough, he was the last player to get ten RBIs in a game against the Angels back in 2005.

Santana’s seventeen strikeouts – While Anderson certainly had a great night, the Yankees pitchers he was facing were not making things too difficult (Mussina in particular had a second poor start in a row). Had he been facing Johan Santana, maybe things would have been a bit different. The Twins ace recorded a career-high seventeen strikeouts last Sunday, striking out each Rangers hitter at least once in the process. Santana came out of the game after eight innings, but the Rangers didn’t receive any respite as Joe Nathan took to the mound and retired all three batters (2 on strikeouts) to close out the game. The Rangers’ offense may have been feeling sorry for itself, but spare a thought for their starting pitcher Kevin Millwood. He gave up just four hits and one run and still came out of the game with a loss to his name.

Pass the pitcher – Another pitcher having a tough time at the moment is Byung-Hyun Kim. He was placed on waivers by the Marlins at the start of the month and was claimed by Arizona. In his first start for the D-Backs, he lasted just 2.1 innings while giving up five runs. In his second start, against Florida, he recorded just one out before getting the hook. The D-Backs released Kim this week, the Marlins re-signed him and added him to their bullpen. Kim was called into action on his first day back and promptly gave up a three-run homer to Adam Dunn. Maybe Kim shouldn’t unpack his bags just yet.

Bonds reveals all – Finally, Friday was another day of celebration in the life of Barry Bonds as he was honoured by the city of San Francisco. During his speech, Bonds lifted the lid on the secret of his success, claiming that “Love has given me the strength”. Unconfirmed reports stated that a startled Bud Selig has demanded an investigation into whether love counts as a performance-enhancing drug and he is considering using Roxy Music’s “Love is the drug” as vital evidence in throwing the book at the all-time home run leader.

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