Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Season Opener Means Good Times Ahead

The first pitch of the 2003 season will be thrown Sunday night by John Lackey in Anaheim. Come to think of it, Lackey opened the Angels last game, the pivotal seventh game of the world series last October. Tonight’s opponent on the hill is somewhat familiar to Lackey’s last opposite number, that is the totally forgettable Livan Hernandez. Of course, the Rangers are Sunday’s team and Ismael Valdes, a fourth starter at best draws the opening nod for Buck Showalter’s team.

Lackey versus Valdes, you gotta love the Angels. The Angels will run Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival and the rest of the bull pen out there tonight, sadly for the Rangers they too will trot out their pen as well.

The result: a high scoring game with the Seraphs ultimately the winner in the first game of 2003.

For more opening day insight click “Read More”The A’s will trail somebody for first place in the West after Sunday’s game, but not for long.

Jumping through the league:

The Blue Jays are my pick to make a huge jump in 2003. They are way better than the Orioles and the Devil Rays and can play the Red Sox and Yankees tough. Cliff Politte is one of the top eighth inning men in the game today, Mark Hendrickson, lefty starter gets better every outing. Roy Halladay is the real deal, so they can be 5 games over .500 which ain’t half bad.

The Phillies have some serious offense. Jim Thome won’t suffer change of league blues. Jimmy Rollins will have a good year, and Kevin Millwood has a chance to win 20 games. The Philadelphia offense will carry it a long way despite their spring training slump.

Houston will have a dynamite 3-4-5 with Bagwell, Kent, and Berkman, in any order. This trio will carry the Astros over St. Louis. A little more pitching would make me feel a whole lot better about Houston.

Speaking of the Cardinals. why don’t they just leave Rich Ankiel alone and let the young man pitch his way back to the majors from AAA or below. He is a lefty and still young, don’t mess with his head by threatening to change him into a position player.

I like Detroit’s approach. Get rid of every veteran and start all over again. If they draft well and develop smart players they can come back by 2007. Don’t mention Jeremy Bonderman around Oakland. The A’s gladly threw the best long term pitching prospect they had into the Lilly deal and now after one year in the Cal League, Bonderman will be part of the Detroit rotation.

Everyone is picking the White Sox to beat the Twins. I don’t see it. Minnesota has trouble with lefties and Chicago has Mark Buerhle, but lefty Josh Stewart isn’t the answer this season in their rotation. Esteban Loiaza will give Chicago 10 plus wins, but they still don’t play the game as well as Minnesota does. Jerry Manuel may be the first to go in the manager’s pool even with Bartolo Colon on the team.

The Red Sox didn’t meet Pedro’s spring training deadline to pick up his 17 million dollar 2004 option. Now Pedro says he will not sign another deal with Boston after his 2004 contract expires (assuming the Sox pick up his option before next November). We’ll see, talk is cheap, I still say if Pedro is healthy the Sox pick up the option before too long, Pedro can’t stop it and will be a Red Sock in 2004.

Yankees will absolutely struggle in the late innings with Juan Acevedo the closer until Rivera gets well. Don’t worry when all 162 are played the Yankees will be where they usually are, in first place, but not without some anxious moments.

Hideki Matsui? I haven’t seen enough of him, but the pressure doesn’t seem to be on him on a daily basis, so I say he hits 30 homers while he adjusts to AL pitching.

Dodgers are dreaming if they think Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort will make the difference for them this year. Dreifort will be lucky to pitch 120 innings and Brown no longer has the dominating stuff he once had. Hitters can hit and these two will be limited contributors. I’d worry more about Eric Gagne if I was LA after his 50 plus saves last season.

I wish Art Howe all the luck in the world, but the Mets look more like the 97 A’s than the team Art left behind in Oakland. With an over 30 pitching staff, defense is key and for Art it’s not there.

Watch Juan Cruz for the Cubs, power arm, and Nelson Cruz for Colorado, a classic underachiever.

I can’t wait to see the Reds new ball park. Ken Griffey, Jr is already saying the power alley in right isn’t a gimme. With smoke stacks and a roller coaster effect in the stands in right field it will be some sight. I say it will be a hitters park because if it wasn’t it would be going against everything baseball stands for: offense offense offense.

With the Reds pitching so weak, the games will be very entertaining for the fans, that is if you like 8-5 contests.

The Expos and Marlins will be off to slow starts because of pitching injuries, but both teams have a shot at .500 this year.

The Braves don’t seem too concerned coming out of Florida, but with Hampton and Byrd already on the DL and a new bull pen, I think this is the year someone else wins the NL East, but who? Try the Phillies until further notice.

The Giants are Felipe Alou’s team. The last manager to begin a tenure with a team who was as old as Alou was Casey Stengel in 1962 when the Perfesser was 72. Alou will manage as he always does, a quick hook and moving runners around. Just don’t mess with Bonds because he’s the ticket for SF.

By the way, is the Cub bull pen in Mike Remlinger’s hands, I hope so because Kyle Farnsworth makes me nervous.

This week Dusty Baker manages against Art Howe, Cubs versus Mets, what’s wrong with this picture?

Have a good opening night. I hope John Miller and Joe Morgan just let us enjoy the game on ESPN without constantly referring to Joe’s career.


1 Dave { 03.31.03 at 12:16 am }

Jeremy Bonderman as the A’s best pitching prospect? Is Rich Harden that bad, or is Bonderman that good? I don’t know if Detroit’s decision to have Bonderman start #2 after Mike Maroth is an ingenious one or a foolish one. Bonderman has not pitched above A-Ball in Lakeland, and it seems like Detroit is desperate. Only the Devil Rays seem to be that rebellious, only paying about $14 million after Greg Vaughn’s release and the $4 million from the Mets for Rey Ordoñez.

Don’t mention Esteban Loaiza — the A’s just can’t figure him out. He needs to go to an NL team. The Blue Jays should have traded him to an AL West team. And of course they’ll only be good because half their team are either ex-A’s farmhands or have previously on the team. I count eight of twenty-five. If Justin Miller makes the team… Then Toronto should become Oakland’s Quadruple-A team.

2 Anonymous { 03.31.03 at 3:27 am }

strange how texas’ pen pitched 4 shutout innings tonight. do you think that’s any indication of the season ahead? I knew the Rangers would be better this year, but this is ridiculous. They looked MUCH improved against the Angels tonight, especially their pen.

You must log in to post a comment.