The Baseball Notebook

April 19, 2010 2:59 PM

Week 3: Early Week Previews

The National League is where the best games are going to be throughout Week 3, and the ESPN programming decisions reflect that. Cubs-Mets will be on national television tonight and Phillies-Braves goes on Wednesday. Chicago and New York feature two teams whose fan bases expect a contender (although the expectation's been mixed with a lot more trepidation in New York). Neither team is playing well out of the gate and the Mets in particular have to show a sense of urgency before the season gets away from them. You have two top third basemen in this series who are a study in contrast. David Wright has been one of New York's bright spots and is hitting everything in sight. Aramais Ramirez, on the other hand, is off to very poor start at the plate. This should be a good competitive series, and the slow starts of both teams make it that much more interesting.

J.A. Happ was supposed to face Tim Hudson in Wednesday's Atlanta-Philadelphia game, but now Happ may miss his start. He would be the latest in what is becoming a stacked Philadelphia disabled list. It already includes Joe Blanton, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero. It shows how much this game can humble you--the Phillies have a lineup that's theoretically unstoppable, but the injury bug has proven itself capable of cutting down anyone in this game. Atlanta, in spite of getting no-hit at home by Ubaldo Jiminez on Saturday night has the talent to take the NL East if Philadelphia is weakened. I won't say this is a big series, with both teams sitting on winning records, but it should be a fun one.

Over in the American League, it's the Yankees and Rays that have run off to fast starts in the AL East. New York is one of only two teams to have won all four of its series to date (St. Louis being the other) and they go to Oakland to start

a west coast swing. The A's have had a nice start, but three members of the infield--Daric Barton, Mark Ellis and Chad Pennington (I'm guessing not the same guy who just got cut by the Dolphins) are questionable with nagging injuries. For New York, Tuesday's starter will be Javier Vazquez, whose performance has been one of this club's few negatives in the first two weeks.

Tampa Bay completed a four-game sweep of Boston in Fenway this afternoon in the annual Patriots' Day game. The Rays now go on to Chicago where two good pitching matchups await us. David Price faces John Danks on Tuesday. Then on Thursday, it's James Shields and Jake Peavy, the latter of which needs to get his own ship righted. Peavy and Vazquez are both imports from the National League. Are their early struggles signs of a deeper symptom--namely, that they aren't nearly as good against American League lineups? I believe that to be the case.

The Notebook will come back

on Wednesday and Thursday, when we put both the Yankees and Dodgers under a closer microscope. In the meantime, there's some football talk over at the College & Pro Football arms of the Notebook Family, with some short spring commentary to help us get our sea legs before August.

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