Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1
April 4, 2005
Opening Day Thoughts
8:50 a.m. PDT: One down, 2,429 to go.
I'm not ashamed to say that I've had some trouble sleeping these past few days. I'm just so excited about the new baseball season, excited in a way that is hard to explain to people who don't get the game, who don't love it, who don't have it in their blood. I was around many of those people, those...civilians...the last couple of days, celebrating milestones in the lives of two beautiful little girls, and it was hard to keep my excitement from spilling over.
If you're reading this, maybe you don't quite have the sleeplessness, but you certainly feel the tingle, right? There was a meaningful baseball game played last night. More are being played today, on the not-made-for-TV Opening Day of the '05 season. It's the first real day of a journey that, with rare exception, manages to surprise us each and every time we take it.
An hour from now, two pitchers at opposite ends of their careers will square off in Detroit, in a game that will have virtually no impact on the championship season. However, it will have so much impact on millions and millions of people who have waited for five months for the return of baseball. When
Our game is back. Let's watch.
10:31 a.m. PDT: I love Bonderman. I've said this a number of times, but I think he's on the
The Tigers made a poor long-term decision by starting his clock back in 2003. However, they've done very well keeping him healthy, keeping his workload low at 20 and 21. He could use another year of reasonably careful handling, although his improved command will do more than anything to keep his pitch counts down.
10:49 a.m. PDT: It doesn't matter what the rationale is; if you have
Tike Redman. That's just awful.
11:26 a.m. PDT: I'm a little surprised that Ned Yost is letting the
Hitch aside, Perez is a lot of fun to watch, all arms and legs on the mound, throwing in the high 90s most of the time. I still contend that his workload--not just in '04, but in winter ball the previous two years--combined with his inefficiency--is going to come a'cropper this year in the form of reduced performance and missed time.
There are ifs attached to almost every player in the Reds' top five. Their upside is something to behold, though. I'm comfortable with the idea that they'll get over .500 this year.
12:00 p.m. PDT: I think it's odd that the only game not available on satellite today is the third first-ever game for a Washington team. I know the reasons why--neither local network is part of the package--but it's a game I would have liked to have seen.
(The 17-year-old version of myself--the one who used to listen to WFAN overnight to hear Jody MacDonald read box scores line by line--thinks the 3[mumble]-year-old version is an ingrate.)
12:18 p.m. PDT: Interesting. After striking out--and looking bad in doing so--
Clay Davenport's Stuff statistic is a very good indicator of pitching ability, as it measures the things largely under a pitcher's control: walks, strikeouts and home runs. Zero is neutral, higher numbers are better. In his first three MLB seasons, Buehrle posted Stuff scores of 9, 7 and 4, unimpressive figures. (Just to pull a name, Ben Sheets was at 2, 15 and 14 over the same three seasons.) Last year, Buehrle jumped to 14, on the back of a higher--but still below average--strikeout rate and a big drop in walk rate. He set career highs in both categories.
If 2004 represented a new level of performance, Buehrle is better than a "mid-rotation innings guy." I don't see it. Moreover, he strikes me as the kind of pitcher--left-handed, polished, generally working at the outer edges of his ability--who's better in his 20s than in his 30s. (I need to look deeper into that concept.)
12:30 p.m. PDT: Will Carroll passes this along:
Am I jaded or does it just seem like there's better pitching this year than ever? We've got some great matchups like Sheets vs. Perez. I think the pendulum is swinging back to pitching after years of hitters having the advantage.
I agree with Will. These things are cyclical, and while they are affected by any number of outside factors, there's an ebb and flow to the game's talent distribution. Offense peaked in 1999-2000, and has since fallen back a bit.
The trend back towards 4.5 R/G would continue if teams would just push a bit more of their innings to the top half of their staffs, especially good relief pitchers, while dropping one pitching slot per team.
I've been corrected...Dunn's home run was headed for Lexington, Ky., not Cleveland.
Neither player ended up having a good season. Bell had a .304 OBP and .446 SLG in 1988, horrible for a corner outfielder even in that low-scoring season. Rhodes famously lost his job not long after the big day, eventually moving on to a wildly successful career in the Japanese League.
1:16 p.m. PDT: This is about how it's supposed to go for the Mets:
Of the three outs the Mets made in the top of the seventh--when they scored three runs to take a 6-3 lead--two were self-inflicted, a no-out, runner-on-second sacrifice by
1:43 p.m. PDT: Mmmm...Boar's Head.
1:56 p.m. PDT: As the Mets and Reds went to the bottom of the ninth, I was thinking that maybe leaving
And as I'm keying this in,
Here's the way I see it: Either platoon advantages are important and should be chased, or they're not and you should just use your best available pitcher. It shouldn't be "chase platoon advantages" through the eighth inning, and then "use the closer regardless of matchups" in the ninth. There's significant dissonance to the way bullpens are run these days, and while the Mets didn't necessarily lose because of it, that they did lose puts the problem into stark relief.
2:02 p.m. PDT: Terrific game in Chicago, where Mark Buehrle and
A day that began a bit slowly, with two blowouts, has really picked up some steam in the last few minutes.
2:45 p.m. PDT: Maybe it wasn't Larry Bowa. The Phillies seem determined to re-enact their bullpen disasters from the second half of '05.
It's been a lot of fun...I may pop in again later, but this is likely the end of the diary. Hope you all enjoyed it.