Everyone's buzzing about Ozzie Guillen's controversial Fidel Castro remarks (and we'll get to that), but the big storyline on the field today is two former relievers making their first starts of 2012: Neftali Feliz and Daniel Bard. Can either hack it in the rotation?
Our analysts discuss the two converted relievers, plus Ozzie and the Philadelphia Phillies' anemic offense in today's Triple Play.
1. Daniel Bard and Neftali Feliz both take the hill Tuesday. Will either stick in the rotation?
Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes), ESPN Boston
They'll both stick unless their teams get absolutely stuck for a closer. Starting pitching is a scare commodity and it becomes exponentially more expensive when you don't grow your own. They'll both get a long look.
Susan Petrone (@SusanPetrone), "It's Pronounced Lajaway"
Feliz will not. I'm not sure he's mature enough physically and emotionally to make a sustained quality start and do so consistently. He will have one great start, but long-term, he's not wired for it.
I think Bard can make the transition to starter. He used the offseason to work on the transition, so the stamina should be there. The bigger question is whether he has enough pitches in his arsenal to keep batters off-guard more than twice through the lineup. He needs to perfect his changeup and use it a bit more often than he did last season.
Michael Baumann (@atomicruckus), Crashburn Alley
Maybe, but while each has his issues, I'd take Feliz over Bard. Feliz walked more than four batters per nine innings last year, but the imploding bullpen narrative in Boston might make it untenable -- from a PR perspective -- to keep Bard in the rotation if he's anything less than stellar. Plus he hasn't started full-time since 2007, when he was in the minors.
2. The Phillies have scored 8 runs in 4 games. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being "extremely concerned"), how concerned should their fans be?
Edes: 34. That's the number worn by Roy Halladay. He's the Phillies' ace. He's also their second-leading hitter (.333) four games into the season. That qualifies as a cause for concern. Paging Dr. Howard and Dr. Utley.
Four games into the regular season, the level of concern should be about a 5. If after 10 or so games the team batting average is still under .200, the level of concern can reasonably rise to an 8. Carlos Ruiz is off to a hot start; Shane Victorino, John Mayberry and Hunter Pence are all hitting above .250, and Freddy Galvis finally got his first career hit (for extra bases), so there are signs of hope. Despite the gaping hole in the lineup caused by the absence of Howard and Utley, the Phillies' offense will come around.
Baumann: Maybe a 2. First of all, it's four games -- far too small a sample to draw any conclusions. Second, the Phillies won one of those games and were in a position to win the other two in the late innings. Finally, this vintage of the Phillies is a pitching-and-defense team. They won't score many runs, but they'll score enough to win quite a few games.
3. If you were commissioner, would you suspend Ozzie for his Castro comments?
Edes: If I were commissioner, I would require Ozzie to set up a card table on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, put up a sign that says "Apologies: Free" and personally tell everyone who stops how sorry he is.
Petrone: No. The First Amendment protects the right of the citizen to voice his or her opinion, no matter no matter how ill-chosen the words or how unpalatable those words may be to others. If everybody were suspended for saying something stupid in public, we'd be a nation of empty workplaces.
Baumann: No, and I can't believe anyone cares what Ozzie Guillen thinks about a foreign dictator. Baseball should not want to be in a place where it restricts political speech.