First week won't make or break season
Around the baseball universe, you can't tell by the rising euphoria in Flushing, N.Y., or the threat of panic throughout Atlanta, that this is just the first week of the season.
Thus a public-service announcement: In the name of Joe Charboneau (and don't feel badly if you don't know the name), it is wise to refrain from making sweeping statements about teams, players and trends at least until April showers bring May flowers.
That said, we're a long way from June swoons, but the offensively challenged Braves already are in trouble.
Not only that, given what we've seen after just a few games, the Detroit Tigers will continue to roar through the American League Central, and who's to say that Barry Zito didn't spend his first start on Monday returning to his Cy Young Award-winning days of a decade ago?
Well, let's not get carried away with Zito.
A year ago, there was Super Sam.
OK, Sam Fuld. Ever hear of him? During the opening weeks of the 2011 season, Fuld was the most electric person wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform. He was a combination of Al Kaline in the outfield, Ted Williams at the plate and Ty Cobb on the bases.
Here's the rest of the story: Fuld finished the season with a .240 batting average and 20 stolen bases -- compared to the 49 of Coco Crisp and Brett Gardner, who were AL co-leaders.
While Fuld soared early and often during the 2011 season, the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates operated as first-half terrors in their respective leagues. In the AL, the Indians tied a franchise record by winning 21 of their first 30 games. In the National League, the Pirates did enough to reach first place in their division during mid-July.
It was the deepest into any season that the Pirates had been at the top of their division in 15 years.
Here's the rest of the story: The Pirates extended their streak of losing seasons to 19, and the Indians finished 15 games behind the division-leading Tigers.
Back to the present, where the D-backs are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. Prior to their latest victory, they joined their 2000 predecessors as the only Arizona team to start a season 3-0. In fact, with visions of October glory dancing in their heads, the '00 D-backs eventually improved to 6-1 and 12-4.
They didn't make the playoffs.
Even so, the 2012 D-backs are more of a real thing than a mirage. They have one of the game's most complete players in Justin Upton, and they have decent pitching led by Ian Kennedy, who was the owner of 21 victories last season. They also have Kirk Gibson, who is among those managers who squeezes everything possible out of his players.
The Rays are legit, too. They began the season by sweeping the New York Yankees at home, and this is much of the same Rays team that has made the playoffs three of the past five years.
You also have to believe all of the preseason hype surrounding the 4-0 Tigers, especially since holdovers Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and others already have combined with newly acquired slugger Prince Fielder to show how scary they can be -- and will continue to be.
Then there are the 4-1 New York Mets, the surprise leaders of the rugged NL East. If standout players Johan Santana and David Wright stay healthy, New York will be better than advertised. It's just that Wright is already hurt again (fractured right pinkie), and the Mets don't have the long-term firepower of the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins or even the Braves team they just swept out of New York.
The bottom line: The Mets still will finish last in the division, and if the Braves aren't careful, they will be closer to the Mets at the end than to the Phillies, Marlins and possibly the rising Washington Nationals.
That's because the Braves' suddenly cloudy future -- with much help from their first 0-4 start since 1988 -- is courtesy of offensive woes.
They had 11 hits Tuesday night while beating the Houston Astros, 6-4, for their first victory this season. Still, as a whole, the Braves have issues at the plate with runners in scoring position. Which means, regarding wins and losses, the Braves could struggle as much down the road this season as they are right now.
The Boston Red Sox and the Yankees finally won this week after both starting 0-3 during the same season for the first time since 1966. But they both have too much talent -- including hitting, unlike the Braves -- to suffer through long stretches.
In contrast, the Minnesota Twins are as shaky as their 0-4 start indicates, and it goes back to nobody knowing if star players Justin Morneau (concussion) and Joe Mauer (knee) can stay healthy.
But there was Zito, throwing with splendor for nine innings against the Rockies. He managed his first shutout in nine years.
Then again, Zito always beats the Rockies. He hasn't lost to them in nine starts, going back to Sept. 25, 2008.
Let's check Zito -- and the rest -- in July.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.