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Thursday, March 31, 2011
Opening Day observations, part 2

By David Schoenfield

1. Should the Brewers panic about John Axford? I think they should be nervous. He was legit last season, with 11.8 K's per nine, but he may have been a little lucky by allowing just one home run. His career minor league BB/9 rate was 6.0, which he cut to 4.2 in the majors. If some of that wildness returns, then hitters can sit on the fastball, like Ramon Hernandez did.

2. I really don't like when managers use their No. 4 or 5 reliever in the bottom of the ninth (or extra innings) and save their closer if they take the lead. What if Chad Qualls or Pat Neshek blows that game and you never get to Heath Bell? Use Bell first and then the other guys.

3. Ryan Franklin has skirted a fine line for years as a closer without dominating stuff. The flyballs stayed in the park in 2009 when he allowed two home runs and posted a 1.92 ERA. They flew out more frequently in 2008 (10 home runs) and 2010 (seven home runs) and his ERA was a run-and-a-half higher. I'd be a little nervous about him.

4. The Angels' bullpen had some shaky moments as well. Definitely worth keeping an eye on. Fernando Rodney is hardly a dominant closer and on paper there isn't much depth beyond Kevin Jepsen and Hisanori Takahashi.

5. Albert Pujols. Three GIDP. He's now worth only $299,999,999.

6. Lots of empty seats in Yankee Stadium Thursday, especially behind home plate. No surprise. Padres-Cardinals in the 11th inning ... and the stadium is half empty. Surprising.

7. Jon Jay: Welcome to TLR's doghouse.

Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter at @dschoenfield. Follow the SweetSpot blog at @espn_sweet_spot.