Saturday, March 20, 2010

KC's Anderson Goes for Cycle; Mora Adds Value to Rockies

Players of the Day for Friday, March 19, 2010 American League Brian Anderson will probably never forget the first four innings of Friday's exhibition game against Arizona. Diamondbacks pitchers are already trying to forget it. Anderson, a right fielder who spent the last four seasons with the White Sox, went to the plate in each of the first four innings and by the end of the 4th, he had hit for the cycle. The Royals led 17-0 after 4 and won the game by the footballish score of 24-9. Anderson drove in two runs with a triple in his first at-bat, then added another RBI with a double in the second. His single in the third inning, he singled home two more and then belted a two-run homer in the 4th, completing the cycle in his first four at-bats. Anderson singled once more, finishing 5-for-5, with 7 RBI and 3 runs. A few of his teammates also had banner days. Mike Aviles went 4-for-5 and scored 4 times. 3rd baseman Josh Fields doubled and singled twice, driving in five runs. The Royals banged out 27 hits against Arizona, which used 7 pitchers to little avail. National League At 38, Melvin Mora still has value, especially as a utility infielder with a potent bat. In Friday's 10-4 win over the A's, Mora was manning second base, a position to which he'll become well-acquainted in his new Colorado home, driving in two runs and scoring twice with a double and single in 3 at-bats. Mora will be a backup to multiple players in the Rockies' system, but his versatility and experience add some nice dimensions to a team seeking to win the NL West. After ten years with the Orioles, Mora came over to the Rockies as a free agent. MLB Preview: Florida Marlins In 2009, the Marlins chased the Phillies almost all the way to the wire, but, finishing with a record of 87-75, they, like the Rangers in the AL with the same record, were the best team in the league that didn't make the playoffs, finishing 6 games behind the Phillies and 5 behind Colorado in the wild card race. Florida comes back in 2010 prepared to do battle in the rough NL East, with the Phillies once again the favorite to capture the division flag, counting on youth, pitching and Hanley Ramirez to get them into the post-season. Shortstop Ramirez, easily the best player on the Marlins lineup, had an excellent year at the plate in 2009, batting .342 with 24 homers and 106 RBi. Though his home run total was down a bit, the RBI and average wer both career highs. Ramirez also swiped 27 bases, though he's running far less-often than he did in his first few seasons. Joining him in the infield are Dan Uggla at second, who's been steady and solid at the plate, averaging 30 homers and 90 RBI in four seasons with Florida. Jorge Cantu and Emilio Bonifacio are at the corners. Bonifacio had a fair season as a rookie in 2009, and has earned the starting job. Chris Coughlan, Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross will be the likely starting outfielders. None of them has significant upside, but all can cover ground and occasionally be productive at the plate. The lack of a power hitter in the outfield may be a bit of an issue for the Marlins, though, with their power coming from short and second, they are built a little differently than most major league clubs. The pitching staff of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sánchez, Chris Volstad and Rick VandenHurk has plenty of potential and could be the surprise of the National League. Nolasco, who spent years between starting and relieving, came on late in 2009, posted a 15-9 record and struck out 195 batters. Johnson, considered by many to be among the best young arms in the business, went 15-5 with a 3.23 ERA and 191 Ks. If Johnson and Nolasco prove to be true horses, the rest of the rotation has to be just a little better than average for the Marlins to flourish. Leo Nunez took over the closer job in 2009, and will probably open as the Florida closer, though he blew 7 saves in 33 chances last season. The middle relievers are nothing special, but may be able to work with plenty of rest if the starters stay healthy. Florida doesn't overwhelm with power hitters or all-star pitching, but they manage to be in contention just about every year and 2010 will be no different. with solid pitching and strong seasons from Ramirez and Uggla, they could unseat the Phillies in the division. At 30-1 odds to win the World Series, the Marlins may be worth the wager.

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