Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Halladay On Target for Phils; Ankiel Busting Out for Royals

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 9, 2010 American League Rick Ankiel got shipped from St. Louis to Kansas City in the off-season, but he's likely to thrive in the no-expectations environment surrounding the Royals, who finished last season tied with Cleveland in last place with a record of 65-97. Ankiel delivered an RBI single in the 4th and a three-run homer in the 6th, helping the Royals come back from 5 runs down to defeat the Oakland A's, 11-10. Ankiel, who began his major league career as a starting pitcher, developed a complete aversion for finding the plate in 2004, but re-emerged as a power hitter in 2007. After spending the next two years with the Cards, he finds himself not far from St. Louis, but in another state, another league and another uniform. He's likely to spend time in the outfield and as a DH with the Royals in 2010, and, if they ever need to intentionally walk anyone, Ankiel can still throw it wide and high. National League Roy Halladay was on the mound for the Phillies and the front office brass probably liked what they saw from the off-season's most-celebrated acquisition. Hallady gave up three hits in three innings of work, but fanned 5 as the Phillies downed the Braves, 7-4. The effort was Halladay's second of the Spring. In his initial outing, he worked two innings, allowed no hits and struck out 3. Looks like Mr. Halladay will fit right into the National League without any issues. MLB Preview: Cleveland Indians Here's a team that has self- destructed in just a few short years and looks to be down for the count in an improving AL Central. The Indians won the division in 2007, were competitive in 2008, but finished in a tie with the Royals last season, 21 1/2 games back of Minnesota, the division champion and they've made no moves to improve in the off-season. Possibly the best thing that can be said about what appears to be another bad Indians team is that there's no place to go but up. However, with Grady Sizemore the only potential all-star on the squad (OK, maybe Jake Westbrook), this is a team devoid of quality major league talent. Sinker-baller Fausto Carmona seeks to rebound from a horrible 2nd year in the majors after being a bright star as a rookie. Designated hitter Travis Hafner and 3rd baseman Russell Branyan might combine for more than 50 homers this season, but are a certainty for 300 strikeouts if they both stay healthy. Kerry Wood has made the transition from starter to closer, but he won't have many opportunities to save games as the Indians are a good bet to lose at least 90 times in 2010. Maybe they have some rookies worth a look, though there aren't any great expectations out there. Vegas future book has them down as 200-1 to win the World Series, a bad bet, even if the odds were to go to 2000-1.

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