Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quentin Smacks a Pair, Drives in 5; Martinez Seeks OF Job with Mets

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 6, 2009 American League Following a breakout season in 2008, Carlos Quentin spent more than a third of 2009 on the DL, but was still productive, banging 21 homers and 56 RBI in 99 games. Once again healthy, Quentin is looking forward to leading the Chicago White Sox into the AL Central fray. In Saturday's exhibition with the Cubs, the power was on display as Quentin blasted a two-run homer in the 1st inning and a 3-run shot in the 2nd en route to the White Sox 15-3 pounding of their crosstown rivals. Quentin struck out in his next at-bat, but still ended his day with strong numbers, 2-for-3, 2 home runs, 5 RBI and 2 runs. National League The Washington Nationals are winless in 4 games this Spring, and that's just fine with their division foes, especially the Mets, who destroyed Nationals' pitching in a 14-6 slugfest. Rookie Fernando Martinez, who batted .179 in 29 games with the Mets in 2009, provided a good share of the offense with a 4-for-4 effort which included two singles and two solo homers. A 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Martinez is looking to catch on with the big club as an additional outfielder, and, if 2010 is anything like 2009, the Mets can certainly use all the extra bodies they can find. While Martinez is batting a robust .667 thus far in the Spring, how well he performs over the next month should give some indication of whether or not he's got major league credentials. He'll be battling for a bench job with another highly-touted rookie, Jason Pridie, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins and put together a solid season last year in triple-A Rochester. It's still early, so there's no telling which rookie will eventually wind up in the bigs, but two things for sure emerge from this game: 1, the Mets have lots of outfielders, 2, the Nationals will probably lose 100 or more games again this season. They were the only team in the majors o accomplish the feat in 2009, bowing to defeat 103 times. MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles There's reason for optimism in Baltimore this season, even though the O's lost 98 games and finished 38 games behind the Yankees in the AL East last year. Still, the O's appear to be a year or two away from contention in the AL East, though they will likely improve as the season wears onward. A couple of the reasons for the brighter outlook, other than tossing 2009 in the memory hole, are the hopes surrounding second-year catcher Matt Wieters and the obvious talents of outfielder Adam Jones, one of Baltimore's brightest stars last year. Wieters played in 98 games in 2009, and though his numbers were not especially awe-inspiring (.288, 9, 43), he did show improvement following a very rough start. He's expected to be a solid handler behind the plate and should give the O's 120 or more games this season while upping his power totals. Jones just needs to stay healthy and he'll probably make the all-star team. After belting 19 homers and driving in 70 runs, Jones' season was cut short by injury. His 2009 campaign ended on September 1, but he's back to full strength now and will likely fit into the #2 or #3 slot in the batting order. The top five hitters for the O's are pretty solid, with Brian Roberts leading off, followed by either Jones or Nick Markakis, a perennial 25-90 guy, then Miguels Tejada at cleanup, followed by Luke Scott, who will get most of the DH duties in 2010. Pitching is still an issue, with only Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie as solid, experienced starters. The remainder of the rotation is likely going to be a revolving door, with players coming in and out of the bullpen. The O's won't challenge in their division, but will probably make it out of last place. A .500 season is dependent on staying healthy and the production of some unknown pitching prospects. Future book has the Orioles at 100-1 to win the World Series, which is probably a bad bet. The O's will do better than they did in 2009, but not by that much.

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