On an in and out week, that saw several changes and sadly several injuries, some minor, some hopefully not too awful, the star *pupil* and the highest mark goes to an unlikely source:
Shane Reynolds: Certainly a lot better than expected in his first start, pitching five shurtout innings to a no-decision, Shane earns the highest mark given yet for a starter in his second performance and/or a combo of both starts for the Atlanta Braves.
A+ YES and he deserves it. With a bit of support, he could easily be 2-0 in two starts. Sunday, he got that support and breezed to an easy win. The only question mark was, "Would there be a no-hitter for the new arrival?" Stay in shock, Ladies and Gentlemen, too much expectations *could* provide a fall, but so far, it looks like the steal of the year (any year for that matter)
Gregg Maddux earns a B+. Not vintage Maddux, but good enough, we'll take it for the rest of the season.
OTOH, Russ Ortiz does not improve his C. While not ready to be banished, we want more strikes, less pitches and some improvement before he really insinuates himself into what has been one of the best rotations in history.
Mike Hampton earns a B+ in his first start back. I toyed between that and an A-. making allowances for the long layoff, but decided to leave some room for improvement. He should get it.
Horacio Ramirez earns an A with probably his best and longest performance to date. Seven brilliant innings that left him tiring slightly at the end. He's the real thing and should earn A's throughout the year.
Paul Byrd - We've yet to see a sighting and nothing says that will change. How much of a magnet is the Atlanta pitching mound? Byrd goes down at $ 10 million and along comes Shane Reynolds to pick up the pieces at $ 300,000.00. Go figure.
Jason Marquis Gone- too sad a story in this writer's opinion. I look to the future for Jason. Probably in another uniform.
Smoltzie-lights out in all his *key* performances. Surely, he is establishing himself as the game's best closer or at least one of them. He earns his usual A.
Hodges B+ Good as a filler, maybe too good to go back to the bench, but Reynolds sent him there and so far, no one can complain.
BULLPEN: Let's keep them grouped together. They all come in and out so quickly. But, they have been at least adequate. So, they earn their respectable B once again.
0 runs one day, non-stop hits the next. It averages out to a decent amount of runs per game, but there is nothing average about it. What to expect each time they take the field? No one knows.
Also, lots of tweaks, groin pulls, shoulder aches have kept some of the premier hitters out of the lineup starting with
Chipper Jones I think out of fairness to Chipper, an inconclusive is the proper mark for this week.
Furcal tough decision for me. This in and outer earns a B-
Giles, OTOH, steadily rises, although maybe should have earned the A he gets this week from the beginning. He's doing it all, hitting, hustling and fielding. Maybe there is something to that gene pool, after all.
Fick, inconclusive as he rides the pine due to an injury. Hurry back, IMO, you're a good fit on this team. Meanwhile in his absence, the unlikely *brother* duo of
The Francos hold steady at a B. They deliver, hold their ground and have more than earned their pay and our respect.
Javy won our hearts and then broke them as he approached first base. Can this guy catch a break?. From the penthouse to the outhouse with an inconclusive as he sits on a day to day basis. Let's hope it's not more as I expect little from
Blanco C or D or in between. You make the call. OTOH, the *total package*
Johnny Estrada earns an inconclusive with a fairly invisible performance. It cold have been worse.
Andruw - another inconsistent emerging superstar. How many years are we going to say that about the *loveable* Andruw who's still young enough to be one of the impact players in baseball on a yearly basis? Let's compromise on a B and look forward to that A.
Sheffield, B+ The man can hit. I look for more power and more consistency here, too. He certainly walks enough for the most picky of statmen, but this writer wants more power and more RBI's to bump him up to his potential. Heck, he's the guy, you need that from. Let Furcal walk!!!!!!!
Vinnie, B A great start to the season and his detractors yell, "There's the real Vinnie" everytime he starts to fall off, but then he rebounds with hits and power and we all wonder, "Was he really injured last year?" A pleasant surprise. Keep it up, Vinster.
The Bench Kind of invisible, haven't hurt, haven't killed. No heroic opportunities. Until something happens, I rate them *still* an inconclusive.
Cox remains an inconclusive. Some wanted him to leave Hodges in to get the W, but the game was won, so Cox can't be faulted, Horacio was handled well. He was allowed to start the 8th, faltered and was pulled at the right time. Cox is not the sore thumb, I've seen him to be in the past Oh, what the heck, let's reconsider.
Leo retains his B+. His work is certainly cut out for him. Rein in Ortiz, Bring Hampton along, keep Shane Reynolds a *superstar.* We have faith that Leo will do the job. No reason to doubt him, now.
Again, if I've forgotten anyone, it might be because they were forgettable, or I need your help.
Any comments, good or bad welcome to email@example.com. Campaign for your man and call me an *insensitive idiot* if you have to. I'm listening and I will respond. I promise. :>)