It's important to make a good first impression
Some teams and players hope that's so, while others hope it isn't everything
The final flurry of Opening Day settings across Major League Baseball have arrived, with the Giants, Phillies, Braves and Mariners all scheduled to play their long-awaited home openers today.
What better time to react -- or overreact? -- to the first earnest week of action?
Here is one first impression of every team:
A's: They didn't have a home game rained out for 15 years, and they suddenly had three postponements in a week.
Angels: It's really hard not to notice the .600 opponents' slugging percentage against Jered Weaver. Weaver's fastball averages in the mid-80s these days, so pinpoint command is a necessity. If he doesn't have it, the Angels have a major problem.
Astros: Scott Feldman has a 0.66 ERA. Other than that, the vagaries of youth reveal themselves here. But they don't look like a 100-loss team again, so that's good.
Blue Jays: Seven games, two quality starts and an injury to Jose Reyes. The same issues that plagued Toronto last year have reared their ugly heads again.
Braves: The good teams overcome adversity, and the Braves, thanks to a strong early showing by their newly revised rotation, look to be good again. The pending debut of Ervin Santana means the strong start could prove to be a lasting one. That said, is it really too soon to fret over B.J. Upton's 11 strikeouts in 25 at-bats, given his 2013 stat line?
Brewers: If you were like me and pegged the Brewers as a sleeper this season, the sweep of the Red Sox over the weekend was a good sign. The optimism, though, is tempered slightly by the news that Ryan Braun's injured thumb hasn't completely healed.
Cardinals: It's early, of course, but Allen Craig really needed that RBI single on Monday. The Cards (and Craig) can't possibly repeat last year's success with runners in scoring position, but they can't afford to go distinctly in the other direction, either.
Cubs: Jeff Samardzija (two runs on 11 hits over 14 innings) is certainly doing his part to ensure that you hear his name ad nauseam in trade rumors come July.
D-backs: There were long stretches last season when the D-backs' offense looked awfully one-dimensional. Now, they look two-dimensional, with Mark Trumbo's absurd start (five homers, 13 RBIs, 27 total bases) pairing nicely with Paul Goldschmidt's usual excellence (1.062 OPS). Alas, lineups still have nine slots, and the D-backs are 2-7.
Dodgers: If you watched the Dodgers closely in the postseason last year, you gained a greater appreciation for what an asset catcher A.J. Ellis is for them. They'll feel his absence the next few weeks as he recovers from knee surgery, adding to the impact of losing Clayton Kershaw.
Giants: Eleven homers in seven games. Only one team, the Marlins, had a worse home-run-per-at-bat rate than the Giants last year, but the arrival of Mike Morse, the emergence of Brandon Hicks and the improvement of Brandon Belt could drastically alter the offensive formula.
Indians: It ain't rocket science: They need more strikes out of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister. The first week was frustrating for the starting pitchers.
Mariners: Perhaps unsurprisingly, Robinson Cano was intentionally walked three times in six games. But that trend will only continue as long as Justin Smoak and the others allow it. Smoak ripped a three-run double after Cano was intentionally passed by the Angels in the second game of the season, and that might have been the most meaningful moment in Seattle's 4-2 start.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton's 484-foot homer on Friday was a marvel, and Jose Fernandez hasn't missed a beat. The Fish could be fun to watch. You don't expect a 1.092 OPS from Casey McGehee the rest of the way, but thus far he's quelled any concern that Stanton won't get pitches to hit.
Mets: They should have been hitting the phones trying to trade Ike Davis while he was still running the bases after his pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam on Saturday.
Nationals: Don't get too caught up in Bryce Harper's early slump. On the other hand, Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder problems -- it turns out he has arthritis, manager Matt Williams revealed Tuesday -- presents an interesting lineup quandary, as the timetable of Zimmerman's transition from third base to first might need to be accelerated.
Orioles: Stop me if you've heard this one, but they really, really, really miss Manny Machado.
Padres: They're still not hitting. Once again, injuries (Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin) are holding back the Friars, but Jedd Gyorko, Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso have all been slow out the chute.
Phillies: Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are both in the lineup and swinging the bat well. We haven't seen that this early since 2010. Can it last for 25 more weeks?
Pirates: General manager Neal Huntington already got one contract extension. If Edinson Volquez turns out to be the 2014 version of Francisco Liriano -- especially in the wake of the Jameson Taillon elbow injury -- give him another.
Rangers: Yu Darvish calmed a lot of frayed nerves in the Rangers universe with his sparkling debut Sunday in St. Petersburg, but then Joe Saunders got hurt on a comebacker. The rotation still has a discernibly unsettled feeling to it, and the Rangers have 13 games looming this month against the American League West-rival A's and Mariners.
Rays: Just when Jake Odorizzi gave them ample reason to feel good about the depth of their rotation, left-hander Matt Moore needs an MRI on his elbow. All you can do is hope he won't be the latest victim of the arm-injury epidemic sweeping the baseball world.
Red Sox: Their leadoff hitters are 4-for-28 in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's departure to the Yankees. Perhaps Grady Sizemore will get more opportunities there in place of Daniel Nava.
Reds: It took Billy Hamilton a week to get his first hit. And what did the Reds do? They bunted him over to third, where he was stranded. Dusty Baker might be gone, but Buntapalooza continues. Stop the madness. (And seriously, it's fair to be concerned about Hamilton starting 1-for-17.)
Rockies: The first week of every season needs at least one inexplicable, unbelievable, I'll-be-darned performance to remind us how unpredictable this great game can be. Thanks for coming through, Charlie Blackmon, who reached base 10 times in 11 plate appearances over the weekend.
Royals: Those of us on the Royals' bandwagon are going to feel a whole lot better about ourselves if Mike Moustakas actually starts seeing hits drop. The king of the Cactus League is 0-for-18. The shift isn't helping.
Tigers: The Tigers might have made some bold changes in personnel, but the early results look familiar, and Miguel Cabrera does not appear to have missed a beat after offseason surgery. If rookie skipper Brad Ausmus has one concern, it's the same one his predecessor knew well -- the bullpen (6.08 ERA).
Twins: Few managers could have survived three consecutive 90-loss seasons the way Ron Gardenhire did, but he's a special case. It was nice to see him get win No. 1,000.
White Sox: With Kershaw on the shelf, is Chris Sale (2-0, 1.76 ERA) the best left-handed starter in the game right now? He's got my vote.
Yankees: The continuing health struggles of Mark Teixeira, whose power is already affected by past wrist issues and is now on the disabled list with a hamstring issue, put even more pressure on a 37-year-old Carlos Beltran to carry the middle of the order.