After a dismal start to the season, losing 3 of 4 to arguably the worst team in the MLB when we could have easily won all four games, I need a healthy dose of optimism. I was so excited for baseball to get started again and that excitement is quickly morphing into a sense of dread. To fend off that foul pit in my stomach, I wanted to do a post on what I believe to be are some positive signs we could take from an otherwise awful series.
Without further adieu, reasons to be optimistic:
Izturis, Callaspo and Kendrick look great (offensively): HK went 7-19 with 3 dingers (wind aided, maybe) and (I know, small sample size) Howie saw 4.10 pitchers per plate appearance vs. his career average of 3.54. Could be an indication of him being more patient/selective at the plate. A man can dream. As for Izturis and Callaspo, the pair combined to go 12-29, each with a homerun. In 58 games with the Angels last year, Callaspo hit two homeruns.
Our starting pitching looks as good as we hoped: Yes, it was the Royals not exactly striking fear into the hearts of men lineup. At the same time, while Lackey was giving up 9 runs in 3 2/3 to the Rangers, Lester gave up 5, and various other top starters didn't exactly set the world afire; Weaver, Haren and Santana were impressive in their first starts of the year. Weaver and Haren did what we would expect against a Royals team, but what was especially nice to see was Weaver and Santana each strike out 6 in 6+ innings of work each.
The bullpen is going through a filtering stage: Michael Kohn's fastball is MLB ready, but the slider looks like it needs some work. Is Kevin Jepsen a set-up man or made more for middle relief? Is Rodney even serviceable? We had some questions to answer going in and they are being answered relatively quickly. Walden looks great. Kohn should probably get some more time in the minors. Rich Thompson looks good. Bulger looks terrible (not for the homerun. I don't expect him to pitch three innings and give up 0 runs all that often. The early walks are why he looked so bad. He was lucky the game didn't end sooner). We still have Downs waiting to come back. If we have solid four relievers (Thompson, Takahashi, Downs, Walden) plus one OK reliever (Jepsen) plus a guy who can maybe put it together (Rodney or Kohn), we should be OK. In the KC series, too much was on the shoulders of Kohn, Jepsen, and Rodney.
Other notables: Torii Hunter can hit the ball really far. Abreu's 5 for 5 performance. Trumbo appears to be getting more comfortable. Jeff Mathis has been terrible since opening day (wait, that's a bad thing) and our outfield defense look good except for one botched play by Vernon on a windy day.
NOTE: I posted this after a similar HalosHeaven post, that went live on the site as I was writing this. My fault. I didn't mean to copy/duplicate. For the other post (which is well done and focuses on different points) go here.