Apr 01

Storylines of interest, MLB opening day 2014

Trying to glean anything meaningful from one day’s worth of data is a foolish task, so understand that that isn’t what we’re trying to do here. There were however, some interesting occurrences on the first full day of the Major League Baseball season and some which present situations to monitor. Again, no one is running to the waiver wire or pressing the panic button yet, but here are some takeaways from the first day of action which are worth having in mind as we watch the first week or two of the season play out. With that, here is what we noticed on MLB opening day:

  • Ok, maybe one person is pressing the panic button. Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous can’t be pleased with the deja vu feeling he experienced in Tampa on Monday afternoon. In a day that looked like a microcosm of their 2013 season, R.A. Dickey was underwhelming at best, Jose Reyes got hurt and the team couldn’t hit a lefty. From a fantasy perspective, the immediate concern is for Reyes who is headed for an MRI today (Tuesday), according to Jays’ Beat Writer Gregor Chisolm. This was something we talked about pre-season with Reyes and owners who invested a high round pick in him are certainly holding their collective breath. There is nothing to be alarmed about yet, but Reyes owners will want to look to their bench or the waiver wire in an effort to replace him – he has been placed on the 15 day DL.
    • On the note of finding help at short stop, Alex Gonzalez was sharp for the Tigers in his debut. Again, there is no immediate action here as this is just one game and the 37 year old was awful last season but its worth noting that Gonzalez flew completely under the radar this offseason until the injury to Jose Iglesias presented him with the opportunity to start at SS for Detroit on opening day. He came through for the team today, with two hits and two RBI including a late game triple and the game winning single off Greg Holland. File it away.
    • While on the topic of unfortunate day one injuries, Wilson Ramos broke his hand today so fantasy owners are going to be without the Washington backstop for some time. Ramos owners looking for help in deep leagues could do worse than the man coming in behind him, Jose Lobaton. He won’t replace Ramos’ production mind you but hit well enough in 100 games for Tampa last season.
Comeback candidate Grady Sizemore showed well in his first game in Boston (Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press).

Comeback candidate Grady Sizemore showed well in his first game in Boston (Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press).

  • Grady Sizemore started the narrative of his comeback season the right way. After a strong, healthy Spring his first game in 2.5 seasons went about as well as possible. Sizemore picked up a single and a home run in his first two at bats, finishing 2/4 in the opener. With Shane Victorino going on the DL an unexpected situation has arisen with both Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. on the roster but take today as a sign that Sizemore is ready to hit MLB pitching and run with the job. He’s going to need to stay healthy, and you certainly can’t glean anything about his ability to do so from opening day, but a feel good story certainly picked up steam today.
  • Billy Hamilton did not open 2014 well. He struck out just four times in 2013 (ok, that came in 22 plate appearances) and has already matched the total. He was facing Adam Wainright on one of his better days mind you, but there isn’t really a good way to spin an 0/4, Golden Sombrero performance. This is not a big deal, and no one expected Hamilton to hit the lights out… but with that said, it is a stark reminder of his precarious position atop the Reds lineup and on the roster in general. If he struggles for a prolonged period, owners who invested an early pick may wind up with a big hole in their roster should he be sent down.
  • There were some youngsters who had nice days though, Marcell Ozuna among them. Not a buzzy fantasy draft pick, the 23 year old is locked in as Miami’s starting CF and he went yard in his first at bat this season, following it with a double his next time up. His 2013 debut was nothing to be ashamed of from a 22 year old who many suggest was called up too quick, and the start to 2014 is a reminder that Ozuna may force his way to fantasy relevance this season in Miami.
  • Cliff Lee became the third pitcher in six years to allow eight runs and win which is… well, its not good news no matter how you spin it. Nothing to see here, really, but it allows me to vent a bit that I own Lee everywhere.

So, that’s it. One day in the books which saw a lot of great baseball on the field. The 162 game march does not lend itself well to micro level analysis but as fantasy owners being on the look out for moments that could turn to trends is the best way to stay ahead of the curve.

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