Is Smoltz ready for big innings again?

There's very little that we can learn after one week, and someday it'd be fun to go back through old issues of The Sporting News and episodes of "Baseball Tonight" to see how many silly conclusions were drawn after the first six or seven days of a season (Tim Kurkjian made this point last night, but less obnoxiously). So instead what follows are a few observations that might or might not seem ridiculous a month or a year from now:

  • Hey, here's an idea: Let's wait until Mariano Rivera blows another couple of saves before recommending that he learn a new pitch. Rivera's low-90s cutter, which might rank as the greatest pitch ever thrown by a relief pitcher, led to 53 saves and a 1.94 ERA last season, and we need a bit more time before we conclude that something magical happened to that pitch between last September and this April. Also, learning to throw an effective curveball or changeup isn't as easy as you might have guessed from reading all those recent columns.

  • Manny Ramirez says he's retiring after three more seasons. I'll make you a deal: If I'm lucky enough to still be writing about baseball in 2008 – the first year of Ramirez's supposed retirement – and he's not playing, I will write an entire column enumerating the greatness of either the Yankees in general or Derek Jeter in particular (you choose). Maybe Ramirez was just having some fun with the scribes, but it's not unusual for a player to enjoy the thought of retirement until the day actually arrives. The money and the competition and the cheers are awfully hard to part with.