Mark Teixeira- ATL- Stats- A good part of Teixeira’s slow start can be placed at the foot of an uncharacteristically horrid .136 batting average against lefties. Normally, the switch hitter does far better against them than against righties (splits of .357/.282 last year, .302/.275 in 2006, .292/.304 in 2005, .313/.267 in 2004 and .295/.242 in his rookie year of 2003). That’s actually good news because the Braves are in a division loaded with lefthanded pitching and so far lead the majors on facing southpaw starters and will have gone against 9 of them in their first 14 games after they see Scott Olsen and Mark Hendrickson of Florida. Expect Teixeira to pick up his average against lefties and turn his early season woes around in a big way by the time all is said and done.
Dave Bush- MIL- FYI- Bush is probably pitching for his rotation spot today. Yovani Gallardo returns this weekend and a starter has to go to make room. If it’s Bush, the likelihood is that he will end up in the bullpen and a reliever will be squeezed out of a roster spot. Bush had some closing experience in college (although he would not be challenging for that role with the Brewers) and has seemed to wear out as games went along this year. In his 2 starts he has gone 5-1/3 innings in each one. In the “5” part (covering 10 total innings), Bush has allowed 5 earned runs (6 total). In the “1/3” part (totaling 2/3IP) he has also allowed 5 earned runs (and no unearned). The theory is that he either gets tired or batters catch up with him after seeing him multiple times. That is why Bush is being looked at as a strong bullpen candidate. If he repeats his past two performances his exit from the rotation will be all but certain.
Alfonso Soriano- CHN- Cold- Prior to joining the Cubs, Soriano was typically a fast starter. For the second year in a row, though, he has gotten off to a poor beginning to the season. Soriano’s .175 average 12 games into this year is worse than the .245 mark he posted at the same point in 2007. On the plus side he does have 2 homers, 5 RBI and 4 walks. Last year Soriano had just 1 RBI and 2 walks at this point and didn’t hit his first homer until May 1st. It looks like Soriano still has not adjusted to a home park that should be tailor-made to his strengths. Last year he hit .274 in the Friendly Confines and .325 on the road. This season his splits are even more extreme with just a .077 average at Wrigley Field and .258 outside of Chicago. Soriano is not going to remain a .175 hitter and will not maintain a .077 average at home. This was about the time last season that he started turning it on. His average was never as low as .245 for the rest of the year. Depending on how he hits at home, though, he may end up being a player who you will have to adjust his playing time depending on location and opponent, if you have an alternative.
Sean Burnett- PIT- FYI- If you are looking for a bullpen sleeper, Burnett could be your guy. After being Pittsburgh’s last cut out of Spring Training, Burnett has proven just about all he can at AAA Indianapolis. In 5 appearances covering 8 innings he has earned 3 saves, allowed no runs on 2 hits and 5 walks and struck out 8. Right now, Burnett’s future is on hold until the Pirates decide what they want to do with Rule V draftee Evan Meek or another reliever goes down with injury. Something has to give and when it does it looks like Burnett is ready to assume a significant bullpen role.
Edwin Encarnacion- CIN- FYI- Things are starting to turn around ever so slowly for Encarnacion. Going 3-for-12 in Pittsburgh over the weekend doesn’t qualify him for a campfire, but if you add in his 2-for-3 game last Thursday, that makes Encarnacion 5-for-15 in his last 4 games, a respectable performance in a microscopically small sample size. It was enough to more than double his batting average, from an absolutely putrid .083 to a merely stupefyingly horrendous .179. An extremely low .172 BHIP% certainly hasn’t helped his numbers. At this point it looks like Encarnacion will avoid a trip to the minors to regroup, but he has to continue to show progress.