Thursday, March 01, 2007

5 Feeling the Most Pressure

Yesterday, I gave you 5 individuals who will be feeling the heat of the respective situations they're stepping into this season. Today, here are the 5 individuals or groupings that will be under the gun more than anyone:

5. Gil Meche - Starting Pitcher, Kansas City Royals
The poster boy for free agency gone amok with his $55 million contract, Meche is going to be scrutinized like no other Kansas City player has been in years. He has the potential to actually live up to his contract because of his undeniably great stuff. But if that never translated into him blossoming into an ace in Seattle (another smaller market where the pressure isn't intense), then why should it here? I think on this Royals team, he'll be hard-pressed to collect more than 12 wins.

4. John Maine and Oliver Perez - Starting Pitchers, New York Mets
These two could be the difference between another near-miss for the Mets and a championship. Both were forced into prominent roles in the playoffs last year, and both performed admirably. Now the expectations have been raised, and these two won't be treated with kid gloves any more. On a staff where the top two pitchers are the ancient Tom Glavine and El Duque Hernandez, the young arms need to rack up quality innings. They could both easily blossom into 15 game winners with their potential and the run support they'll likely receive.

3. Daisuke Matsuzaka - Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox
A roll of the Dice-K. The Dice is Right. Boston headline writers are going to have a field day with Matsuzaka, and not just for his pun-able name. Enormous expectations accompany him into the pressure cooker of Fenway Park. A lot of experts said that if he were on the free agent market this offseason, instead of the complex bidding system that the Red Sox utilized to sign him, he would have been the clear #1 starting pitcher on the market, a notch above Barry Zito. With so much that's been said about him, it seems that he's got the stuff to succeed. But the first time he gives up 5 runs in an inning, the Boston media is going to be out in full force.

2. Alex Rodriguez - 3B, New York Yankees
There haven't been many players in recent history who've had their every move scrutinized the way A-Rod has been since he's donned the Yankee pinstripes. The problem though, is that he seems to be feeding the situation to greater heights than it probably deserves to be. He's clearly insecure about his status as a Yankee and it shows in his comments. He could hit .330 with 50 HR this season, but nobody is going to be satisfied until he shows it in the playoffs. Until he makes a conscious decision to disregard the criticism (easier said than done, I understand), I have to believe that his woes will continue.

1. Barry Bonds - OF, San Francisco Giants/Bud Selig - MLB Commissioner
There's no escaping it. These two will be inextricably linked in history. The man who broke the all-time home run record due in part to performance-enhancing drugs, and the man who allowed it to happen, even if indirectly so. Most likely, Bonds will break the record this year, and God help him if it's not in San Francisco. Wow. The reception he would get would be mind-boggling. And Selig isn't helping himself with his noncommittal response to the question of whether he'll attend the possible record-breaking game. When it does happen, it will be an incredibly important moment for baseball, for better or for worse, and to not have the commissioner there is unfathomable to me. If he's not there, it really appears like he's ducking the game purposely. Selig probably can't do anything about the Bonds situation now - his time to act came and went. But as baseball's spokesman, he needs to be there.








1 comment:

Mini Me said...

I agree with the list except for Gil Meche. I mean he is in Kansas City.

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