Opening Day is officially here. (Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

Starting Lineup: Inaugural Edition

Opening Day is without question one of the greatest days of the year and there are plenty of notable moments that have happened on the day if you look back through the halls of baseball history.

In 1940, Bob Feller threw a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. Hank Aaron swung at the first pitch he saw of the 1974 season, connecting on his 714th career home run. Walter Johnson started 14 Opening Day games for the Washington Senators, throwing nine shutouts. Tom Seaver started 16 (with New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago). George Bell (1988), Tuffy Rhodes (1994), and Dmitri Young (2005) hit three home runs on Opening Day.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Call to the Pen is just one part of a broader network of sites – the FanSided Network. There are some very talented writers across our collection of sites, particularly the other 31 that make up FanSided MLB, so we’ve decided that coinciding with Opening Day it was time to start a new weekly feature here at CttP to bring you to some of that work. Each Monday morning we’ll be bringing your attention to some of the best work from the previous week. Since these will lead off the week for us, we hope it will for all of you. It’s your Starting Lineup of all that’s gone down in the past week, setting us up for the week ahead. It’s just one more way we can be sure we’re bringing you all of the MLB coverage that we possible can. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

One of the many additions to the Cleveland Indians roster is outfielder Drew Stubbs, who’s had as some have called it, a “strikeout problem” over the course of his career. Brian Heise of Wahoo’s on First (click to read the post in full) took a stab at dissection this “problem”, openly wondering (and answering) if the high strikeout rate is really the chief cause for Stubbs’ terrible 2012 season.

From Brian:

The bottom line in here is that while Stubbs was still striking out a lot, it wasn’t significantly more than his career strikeout rate and was only marginally higher than 2011 when he struck out 205 times yet still hit a reasonable .243/.321/.386. In other words, while everyone likes to point at strikeouts for the cause of Stubbs’ problems in 2012, the numbers show that simply wasn’t the case.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the AL Central Brad Swanson of Puckett’s Pond runs through some quick predictions, touching on a couple of subjects, for the upcoming Twins’ season, sort of a good news/bad news type of thing. Here’s more from Brad on part of Minnesota’s bullpen:

As far as late-inning relievers go, I think Glen Perkins and Jared Burton are extremely good values. Both have great talent and both are signed to a reasonable contract.  I am not a huge fan of the “closer role” because I think that certain players are overpaid because they can close games.  However, both of these players can close out games and aren’t overpaid when doing that job.

There are countless questions facing the Boston Red Sox this season, but few have talked about a potential sophomore slump for third baseman Will Middlebrooks. That’s just the subject that Aidan Flynn of BoSox Injection attempted to tackle, examining whether his strikeout rate and BABIP will improve enough.

From Aidan:

For those that haven’t yet figured it out yet, what scares me the most regarding Middlebrooks’ sophomore campaign is that he won’t hit for a high enough average to maintain an even acceptable on base percentage. By now, most understand the importance of on-base percentage in today’s game and even with secondary skills such as power and strong defense, a player can lose a ton of value if he cannot get on base at a decent clip. For some, Middlebrooks is expected to be an all-star and anchor for a lineup that could be without David Ortiz for some time. This year I just don’t see that happening.

Toronto made a number of big moves this winter and made another bold one this past week, sending left-hander Ricky Romero down to the minor leagues to work some things out in his mechanics. The move received some mixed reviews, but Daniel George at Jays Journal thinks that it could ultimately prove to be a good thing for both Romero and the Blue Jays.

More from Daniel:

There are some positives to this news. First off, this means that fans won’t have to see 2012 staff ace Ricky Romero get completely shelled every 5 games for the club. Nothing hurts more than to see an organization keep a guy in the majors to protect his ego while he continues to get smacked around.

Finally, we’ve got one more for you this week. John Burgess at Climbing Tal’s Hill thinks that enough is enough. There’s too much talk about the historically low Opening Day payroll of the Houston Astros (who look like they might be a fun team to watch this year after last night’s win against their new division rivals). So John looks to justify the process as we await the results.

From John:

While losing really sucks, I would rather my team be horrendous for a few years than to go on a 20-year losing streak like the Pirates. Luhnow has decided to go with the “quick band aid removal method” to rebuilding so that we only have to deal with the pain for a short while instead of feeling each hair and piece of scab being ripped off with the slow rebuild.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Cleveland Indians Houston Astros Minnesota Twins Toronto Blue Jays

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