2009 MLB American League East Notebook
With a season in flux, Baltimore team president Andy MacPhail said earlier in the week that it was time for the organization to bring prized catching prospect Matt Wieters. Wieters is expected to join the team on May 29.
The idea is to bring him up and force the team to do something with one of its two veteran catchers in Chad Moeller or Gregg Zaun. When a team is sinking and realizes that it is not a contender, these moves typically occur.
Wieters has been with Triple A Norfolk and hitting .285 with five home runs. Wieters is a 6-5 switch hitting catcher who is considered to be one of the best catching prospects in all of baseball.
The Orioles are languishing in last place in the AL East but are carrying a little momentum following a three-game sweep of Toronto.
Speaking of the Blue Jays, they are going through an exceptionally rough spell as they have dropped nine consecutive games after being swept in Baltimore.
They went from first place to third place in a week. Their offense has just stopped as they are hitting less than .200 with runners in scoring position during that time and have left 57 runners on base.
Plus, ace Roy Halladay has twice been unable to stop the streak. Actually, his start on May 27 at Baltimore looked good enough because the Blue Jays led 8-3 after seven innings. They lost, 12-10 in 11 innings.
We’ve talked before about the Rays’ penchant to steal bases, but it’s worth re-visiting. With 80 stolen bases through their first 48 games, that leads the majors by 20. The Dodgers are second with 60.
But the stolen base total is exceptional because it’s the most since the 1990 Montreal Expos stole 90 through their first 48. In 1976, the Oakland A’s stole 112 through their first 48 games. But the Rays know how to pick their spots because they are 80-for-89 (89 %) and have stolen 47 of their last 50.
As for Carl Crawford, he is 30-for-30 and has more stolen bases than 17 other major league teams. He’s on a pace to steal 101 bases, which would easily be a career high.
Protection for first baseman Mark Teixeira has come in the form of third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Since A-Rod has returned, Tex has been on fire this month. He’s hitting nearly .400 with 10 home runs. Teixeira, who started with two home runs in early May, is now at 15 for the season. It was probably a matter of time before Teixeira was going to get going following a dismal April.
Teixeira’ rise has corresponded with the Yankees’ rise. New York has won 12 of its last 15 games to get into second place in the division.
Right-hander John Smoltz (shoulder surgery) has been on the disabled list since March 27 but is slowly making progress toward rejoining the team sometime in June.
Following a first rehab start with Class A Greenville, he started earlier in the week for Double A Portland (Me.) and threw 3 1/ 3 innings and allowed one run and struck out two.
Ultimately, Smoltz is trying to rebuild the strength in the shoulder and add stamina. The Red Sox would likely want to see him sustain a couple of starts at either 100 pitches or six innings to see how he can handle it.
Meanwhile, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has the majors longest hitting streak at 22.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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