Rounding Third: Thoughts on the first month

( – It’s hard to believe a month has already gone by in the
Major League Baseball season. Well, it’s actually not a full month because the
season started on April 4, but the calendar has turned to May.

Never mind, you get the idea.

Anyway, there is more than enough of a sample size to gauge what’s going on.
What I mean is it’s no more than just a knee jerk reaction to say Kansas
City’s Mike Moustakas is the best player in the game.

So with that said, here are some of my thoughts from the first month:


Shawn Clarke went into detail about this the other day (,
but here we are a month into the season (give or take) and the Astros are atop
the AL West standings. Houston was going to take a big step this season, but
nobody thought they’d be this good, this fast.

Can they sustain it? They might be able to. They have a lineup that is going
to hit a lot of home runs. It’s a young team and one that I said at the
beginning of the season would challenge the all-time strikeout record,

But if the Astros are still standing in September, it’s not going to be because
of their lineup. It’s going to be their rotation, specifically left-hander
Dallas Keuchel and righty Colin McHugh. And help could be on the way soon, too,
in the form of former first overall pick Mark Appel.

Either way, for however long it may last, enjoy the ride. Houston is off to
its best start since 1986, which if memory serves me correct, had it two wins
away from reaching the World Series. There is still a lot of time left, but I
will guarantee this. Unlike 29 years ago, the Astros will not lose to the New
York Mets in the NLCS. Write it down. It won’t happen.


There has been an awful lot of talk about Alex Rodriguez’s start. I read
something the other day that said his start is one of the biggest stories of
the early season.

Really? Am I missing something? He’s hitting .232. Yes, he has five home runs
and 13 RBI, but two of those home runs and four of those RBI came in one night
against the Tampa Bay Rays back on April 17.

Since that night, however, A-Rod is hitting .135 with one home run and two RBI.

Now, a lot of this could be the fact that he is just one home run away from
tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list, regardless of what the
Yankees will have you think. If there are two things we know about Rodriguez,
it is, 1, he loves performance-enhancing drugs, and, 2, he gets tight in big
situations. You have to think the Mays milestone is weighing on him.


I have to admit, I did not think the Kansas City Royals were going to be this
good. I was dead wrong. Even without James Shields, they are a better team
than last year’s club that was one win away from a world title.

The Royals had a hard time scoring runs last season. That hasn’t been the case
in the early going. Now that may have something to do with Moustakas taking
his seat at the head of the dinner table in the AL. In case you haven’t
noticed, I am drinking the Moustakas Kool-Aid. It’s not just him, though, the
whole team is hitting.

And that bullpen has shown no signs of dropping off after last year’s magical
run. And that’s been without closer Greg Holland, who is on the disabled list
with a pectoral strain. Dare I say, they’ve been better? With a 1.02 ERA
through 22 games, they may be.

Yordano Ventura, though, needs to calm down. I like the fact that he plays on
the edge, but he has to reel that in. He already has a bad reputation around
the league, and the last thing the Royals need is for one of their players to
get hurt because of his actions.


*For the New York Yankees’ sake, I hope I am wrong, but we may not see
Masahiro Tanaka again until at least next year’s All-Star break. I know
general manager Brian Cashman didn’t seem overly concerned about the forearm
strain, but he also didn’t dismiss the notion that it could be a precursor to
Tommy John surgery. We all know Tanaka is pitching with a partially torn
ligament, so if he is overcompensating for that and injuring himself, that is a
problem. I know it’s crazy to think that teams don’t necessarily tell us the
whole story, but don’t be surprised if there is a news release in the next
month saying Tanaka is getting the surgery.

*Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto are going to get traded soon. Maybe not
imminently, but well before the deadline. Boston’s rotation is in shambles,
and if the Yankees are going to be without Tanaka, they are going to need a

*The Washington Nationals are going to be in first place in the NL East by the
end of May. No team got off to a worst start with higher expectations than the
Nationals. Things are starting to turn their way, though. They just have too
much pitching to fail. And as good as they have looked at times, I just don’t
believe the New York Mets can sustain this start. This weekend in Flushing
seems like as good a time as any for the Nats to turn things around.

*Nothing has taken me off of my St. Louis Cardinals-to-the-World Series
prediction. As for my AL team? Well, let’s just say the Seattle Mariners
better get it going soon.