It's been a depressing 24 hours for Bernie Brewer, don't you know. He watches Ryan Braun go deep three times in Tuesday's road game and thinks, "You couldn't do this at Miller Park?"
Braun's collection of homers didn't come off the meat of the Philly staff – Kyle Kendrick served up the first two taters, Brad Lincoln the last one. But let's also give credit where due – Braun's first homer came off a decent 1-2 pitch from Kendrick, and the second one was an opposite-field shot. Only the third home run could be termed a true mistake, a fat Lincoln pitch that was screaming out "crush me" before Braun did just that.
Generally we don't spend much time in this space examining the major achievements of universally-owned players – there's nothing actionable there. But given Braun's much-discussed thumb problem, we have to view the Tuesday breakthrough in a different light. If you wanted a good time to consider an outgoing Braun deal, you now have a selling point, a window, an opportunity.
This doesn't mean you holler from the rooftops "Braun must go." Be more subtle than that. Tell your opponents you want to move an outfielder, or a power hitter. See if they come to Braun, see how they value him after Tuesday's heroics. See where they draw the line.
I don't own Braun anywhere, so this isn't a decision tied to any of my teams. Obviously it's not my thumb, either. But I suspect Braun will be battling this physical issue all year, and just because the thumb didn't hold him back Tuesday doesn't mean it won't be a problem again soon. If I did own Braun, I'd be trying to time the market now, seeing if I could cash in on this loud and visible breakthrough. Thumb injuries linger and at their worst, they sap power. Don't let one big afternoon cloud your full-season plan.
Are you buying, selling, or holding Braun today? Share your game plan in the comments.
• Welcome to the new season, Yordano Ventura. Maybe all that spring training helium was on the mark after all.
Ventura missed his scheduled turn last week (blame the rain or simply say #boomyosted), but his 2014 debut was worth the wait. The highly-regarded righty was brilliant in six scoreless innings against the Rays, allowing just two baserunners and striking out six. Ventura topped 100 mph on a few throws and hit the zone in 62 of 95 pitches. Have a look at the scouting video, see what you make of it. Future ace, Ventura.
Of course, Ventura didn't get a win. The Royals offense doesn't score for anyone this year, so it seems. KC still doesn't have a homer (every other club has a minimum of three) and it's the lowest-scoring team in the AL. A .250 average is middle of the pack (ditto the .327 OBP), but a slugging percentage of .307 is downright embarrassing. Mike Moustakas should be renamed Mr. March.
The Royals were 18th in scoring last year, 20th the previous season. It's been a long wait on this offense. Maybe Alex Gordon and Billy Butler have hit their top levels. Maybe it's never going to happen for Moustakas. No one wants to make any major conclusions based on a week of games, but my gut tells me a bunch of strong KC starts are going to be wasted this year. (Maybe this is why I had two unsolicited James Shields offers in my mailbox this morning.) If you have something optimistic to share about this lineup, let's hear it.
Support concerns to the side, Ventura sure looks ownable in all formats, even the thinner ones. He's also an intriguing two-start option for next week, drawing the unthreatening Astros and Twins. Unfortunately, he'll never get to throw against his own team, not in a game that counts. But if you're going to own any AL pitcher, the Central Division is a good place to set up shop.
• Coors Field has already shown its teeth in the early going, so I don't blame anyone who shielded Jose Quintana away from Tuesday's thin-air assignment. I know I benched him in at least one format, and thus didn't get the rewards from his snappy seven-inning performance (5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, easy victory). But most of all, it's refreshing to see Quintana in fine form after a messy spring. His bullpen cost him a victory in the prior start (6 IP, 5 R, 2 ER, 8 K against Minnesota).
We're not going to get too crazy over a 13-inning bank of data, but it's intriguing to see Quintana pushing his strikeout and ground-ball rates forward. The White Sox have liked The Q all along; they signed the 25-year-old to a meaty five-year extension (26.5 million) just before the season. He's one of the more underrated pitchers in the American League, and he's only owned in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues. Give him a look against Cleveland this weekend.
The White Sox clubbed six home runs in support of Quintana, with Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu each connecting twice. Garcia hadn't done a thing before Tuesday, but given his tool set and pedigree, his ownership tag is surprisingly low (29 percent).
Speed Round: Although X-rays on Josh Hamilton's thumb came back fine, he'll still have an MRI for Wednesday. It would be a shame if Hamilton needed significant time off, as he's off to a sizzling start . . Back up the return timetable on Mat Latos (elbow); he was scratched from his Tuesday rehab turn . . . Grady Sizemore collected three hits in Tuesday's loss to Texas, but he's getting a matinee rest for Wednesday, something we might see regularly during the year . . . The Rockies center field situation was partially cleared Tuesday, with Corey Dickerson demoted to Triple-A. Charlie Blackmon figures to play most of the time, the heavier side of a platoon (journeyman Drew Stubbs started, and took a collar, against the lefty Quintana) . . . Coco Crisp (wrist) is always a high-maintenance player, and he won't be back until Friday at the earliest . . . Matt Moore (elbow) is visiting Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, and you know what that means . . . Tyson Ross allowed seven runs at Cleveland, though just two of them were earned. His next two starts are back at the forgiving Petco sandbox (Tigers, Giants) . . . Sergio Santos recorded his third save, and he's already struck out eight men over 3.1 innings. Melky Cabrera is another YYZ baller in fine form – he's up to four homers, presumably healthy again.