By David Schoenfield
Page 2

This is what bugs me about April baseball: Brian Roberts.

Brian Roberts
AP Photo/Chris Gardner
Don't look for Brian to be leading the league come July.

Look, I know you Orioles fans are all excited about Mr. Roberts. I'm tired of hearing of this guy. He's not going to be the AL MVP. He may not even be an All-Star. A guy who hits .273 with four home runs doesn't suddenly become one of baseball's best hitters.

And Shea Hillenbrand, he bugs me too. We've seen hot starts from him before. Just call him Mr. April.

Don't even get me going on Clint Barmes. If he's still hitting .300 at the All-Star break, I'll pay attention

But until then ... enough! Enough of the hype on these guys, enough of how Roberts' turnaround spells big things for the Orioles. Instead of all this positive coverage about meaningless April starts, we need a little dose of reality. Not to rain on everybody's April parade, but we need some truth. And I'm here to deliver it for your favorite team.

NL East
Atlanta Braves: If John Schuerholz is so smart, how come he signed Brian Jordan and Raul Mondesi? This is doomed to be the worst pairing of corner outfielders since high-school pals Darryl Strawberry and Eric Davis reunited with the '92 Dodgers and turned Tommy Lasorda on to a diet of Slim-Fast and Pepto Bismol.

Florida Marlins: Hey, if you actually believe Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett will stay healthy, that Scuffy Moehler will have his first good year since 1998, that Al Leiter still has something left to offer besides his TV career, that the Fish can continue to post a 2.27 team ERA ... then, yes, you've got me.

New York Mets: Jose Reyes is hitting .267. That's nice. Jose Reyes has drawn zero walks. That's uglier than a Kaz Ishii pitching line. Unless Willie Randolph wises up and gets Reyes out of the leadoff spot, this team isn't going anywhere.

Philadelphia Phillies: Jon Lieber is 4-0 and averaging 2.73 K's per nine innings. Smart baseball fans – i.e., those not from Philly – know that's not meant to be read as a good sign.

Washington Nationals: OK, we get the idea; D.C. has a baseball team. Too bad it's one with Cristian Guzman playing shortstop.

NL Central
Chicago Cubs: What's more frightening, LaTroy Hawkins' pitching in the ninth inning with a one-run lead, or hearing the words, "Procedure will clean up tissue around groin"?

Cincinnati Reds: Amazingly, Eric Milton is on pace to top the 43 home runs he allowed last season.

Ben Sheets
The good news is they signed Ben. The bad news? He's still hurt.

Houston Astros: News out of Houston is that Roger Clemens has taken Brandon Backe under his wing, turning him into a Junior Rocket and all that. Seems to be working, other than that little thing about a 6.17 ERA. Please notice that I did not take the easy out and rip Brad Ausmus!

Milwaukee Brewers: In a shocking development, the Brewers once again lack the talent to compete for a division title. Check out Alan Schwarz's great article that shows the Brewers signed just 15 players on Opening Day rosters (only the Devil Rays signed fewer, and at least they have the expansion excuse).

Pittsburgh Pirates: What ails the Pirates? My friend Gerard reports from the Steel City: "The Pirates have been successful in brainwashing the fan base to 'grittiness' and 'hustle' and 'this guy cares' so much so that winning and talent no longer matter." Ahh, yes: a little grit, a little hustle and a little too much Lloyd spells disaster.

St. Louis Cardinals: There is nothing wrong with this team that the Genius won't figure out how to fix.

NL West
Arizona Diamondbacks: On the bright side, Troy Glaus has only missed one game so far. Of course, there are 142 games remaining.

Colorado Rockies: Trying to explain the reasoning behind these black and purple sleeveless uniforms is like trying to explain the popularity of Maroon 5.

Los Angeles Dodgers: I have vowed not to jump on the popular trend among LA's media elite to bash Paul DePodesta. I will not be a hater. But Scott Erickson? That has as much chance of working as Ben and Jen's engagement.

San Diego Padres: All the Pads need to do is transplant a little bit of Jake Peavy's fastball into Sean Burroughs' bat and they'll be just fine.

San Francisco Giants: "Excuse me, does that bottle of fluid belong to Moises?" "No, sorry, that was drained from Barry's knee."

AL East
Baltimore Orioles: And for the seventh straight season all the O's need is for Sidney Ponson to finally harness his "talent," win 24 games, capture the Cy Young Award and they will knock off the Yanks and Sox.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox are the greatest franchise in the history of sports. I have nothing negative to say about a team headed to its second straight World Series title. I'm glad they're finally getting some national exposure after all these years. I love this team!

New York Yankees: Baseball Prospectus keeps track of a statistic called "Defensive Efficiency," which is simply the percentage of batted balls in play that each team turns into outs. The top team through Sunday was the Marlins, who turn 74.75 percent of balls in play into outs. The league averages are 69.3 percent in the AL, 69.8 percent in the NL. No team is below 66.8 percent ... except the Yankees, who have turned just 63.87 percent of balls in play into outs. The Prospectus Web site lists this statistic back to 1972, and the worst team in that span has been the 1999 Devil Rays, at 66.17 percent. In other words, the 2005 Yankees are looking like a historically awful defensive team, one of the worst of all time. And that, Yankee fans, is why your team will miss the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: As's Jayson Stark has pointed out, the Devil Rays have a payroll of about $29 million. Yet they'll bring in about $30 million in revenue redistribution and another $30 million in various national television, radio and licensing deals. So they're $30 million ahead before selling one ticket. And you thought Vince Naimoli was a little cracked.

Toronto Blue Jays: This is your best pitcher right now.

Ozzie Guillen
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Ozzieball won't be so funny come September.

AL Central
Chicago White Sox: Ozzieball is a crazy, wonderful thing when it's working like it is now. But let's interrupt the fun to point out that the Sox have drawn 41 walks in 20 games and have a .300 team on-base percentage. Unless the pitching continues to pitch like the 1906 Sox, Ozzieball will turn ugly by July.

Cleveland Indians: There are bad front-office decisions and then there are decisions like giving Scott Elarton another chance in the rotation. This guy has started 67 games since 2001 and won 11 of them. There have to be 150 guys in Triple-A better than him. Has Gabe Paul been rehired to run the team? Was Neal Heaton unavailable to pitch? Someone please explain this to me.

Detroit Tigers: Let's take a look back over the last decade, shall we? Games out of first place is an important stat ... 20, 47, 39, 25, 16, 27.5, 24, 19, 39, 26, 18.

Kansas City Royals: Here's what you don't do if you're a cash-poor team with no hope, no future and less talent – give $2.5 million to Jose Lima and expect it to provide dividends. But the fountains are still nice.

Minnesota Twins: Ron Gardenhire wasn't much of a big-leaguer player. He lasted a couple years as a utility guy and was back in the bush leagues. Luis Rivas is a lot like Gardenhire. Except he has a regular job! For the love of Harmon Killebrew, can someone please tell Gardenhire that Luis Rivas is a lousy stinking player? He doesn't get on base, he has no power, his fielding range is minimal.

AL West
Los Angeles Angels: The most ridiculous notion of all preseason predictions was the consensus that the Angels would run away with the AL West. Aside from Vlad Guerrero, is there any player on this team guaranteed to produce above-average offensive numbers for his position?

Oakland A's: Boy, Barry Zito's 2002 season sure seems like a long time ago.

Seattle Mariners: Let's see, your 42-year-old "ace" is 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA and you're still under .500?

Texas Rangers: Chan Ho Park and Pedro Astacio together again ... yeah, it worked so well the first time around in L.A. back in 1997.

David Schoenfield is an editor for Page 2 and has nothing nice to say about even his favorite team.

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