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Roundtable: Season Opener Roundtable

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday April 05, 2010 12:30 PM ET Season Opener Roundtable roundtable.
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Roundtable Administrator (9:04:00 AM PT): Welcome to the Season Opener Roundtable roundtable, where BP authors engage in a live chat during the event and answer our readers questions. This roundtable does not start until 12:30 PM ET on April 5, but you can submit questions for our authors any time before or during the roundtable by submitting them using this roundtable chat interface.

Colin Wyers (9:37:51 AM PT): Okay, let's see if I know what I'm doing here.

Colin Wyers (9:43:38 AM PT): Okay, let's Radio Shack this - you've got questions, we've got answers. First one comes from dtwhite: "Is there any reason some guys seem to be 'slow starters' - I'm thinking CC Sabathia struggling the last two springs - or is it just a sample size illusion?"

This is one of those things where having more data doesn't really mean more information. In other words, given what we know about baseball, we should expect some players to appear to be "slow starters" over a period of years, simply due to random chance, even if there are no slow starters. But there's little to no evidence that some players really are "slow starters" compared to their peers.

Colin Wyers (9:49:08 AM PT): Next is from Matt from Chicago: "One question each about the Chicago teams... What are your thoughts on Alex Rios? Is he ever going to return to his form of a few years ago or are his best days already behind him? Given the Cubs weak bullpen as currently constituted, what are a few names you believe they should target and that might be available via trade over the coming few months? Happy Opening Day to all!!"

PECOTA sees Rios as a useful player this season, with a weighted mean WARP of 2.4. That doesn't mean his best days aren't behind him (it also doesn't mean they are), but you can be a very productive ballplayer while still not being as good as Rios was '06-'08.

As for the Cubs - there really are very few pitchers who are tremendous difference makers as relievers, and they are typically unavailable. Most of the time you're trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and the Cubs don't have a shortage of bottles. They have plenty of live arms around, so they're not lacking for depth.

Colin Wyers (9:50:53 AM PT): By the way, this gives me as good a chance as any to point out the debut of the new combined player cards - you can click on Rios's name above for an example.

Kevin Goldstein (9:52:06 AM PT): Hi everyone! I'll be here pretty much all day.

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell, Iowa): Sitting here in my 1959 Nellie Fox jersey. This is my favorite holiday of the year! According to my TV book, we're going to get the Cubs-Braves game later today when they could have shown us the best pitching matchup of the day: Greinke-Verlander. What kind of defective reasoning might have led to that decision?

Ratings. We might be more intrigued by the pitching matchup, and with good reason, but Cubs/Braves fans will tune in more than Tigers/Royals.

Kevin Goldstein (9:55:18 AM PT): I've just learned that beginning at 2pm ET, I'll also being able to update all of our readers on my kid's band practice in the basement. Getting my first taste of John Smoltz as an analyst on MLB Network -- not as bad as expected.

Colin Wyers (9:56:48 AM PT): GrinnellSteve asks, "Sitting here in my 1959 Nellie Fox jersey. This is my favorite holiday of the year! According to my TV book, we're going to get the Cubs-Braves game later today when they could have shown us the best pitching matchup of the day: Greinke-Verlander. What kind of defective reasoning might have led to that decision?"

I shouldn't have to tell you that the Cubs are more popular nationally than either the Royals or Tigers. (Grinnell is solidly in Cubs territory, isn't it? The Iowa Cubs aren't too far from you...) And the Braves have a pretty large national fanbase as well. Blame the superstations.

Also, this is one of the rare WCIU games for the Cubs (which means Chicago-area only, unlike WGN or CSN Chicago), which means that large parts of the country would be blacked out for the game unless ESPN picked it up. I don't know how much this played into ESPN's decision-making.

Kevin Goldstein (9:58:38 AM PT): Eric (Mpls): Any BP-ers planning to hit Target Field this year? I went to one of the exhibition games, and it's stunning. It would be fun to have a BP event here.

I believe Christina had some plans to be there. As for an event, we're working to have more this year, but nothing official for Minnesota at this time.

Kevin Goldstein (10:03:05 AM PT): kcboomer (KC): The BP prognosticators were not very high on Greinke's CYA chances as they were those that trailed him in the balloting (Verlander, Hernandez, and Sabathia). Is this because they expect Greinke to regress more than the others or that Royals too much to permit another CYA caliber season from him?

For me, it's just a stuff bet, but Verlander has burned me on that before.

Steven Goldman (10:04:14 AM PT): Hey, Pilgrims. I'll be in and out as I prepare Dead Player of the Day #6 and today's Pinstriped Bible, both touching on last night's awesome bullpen work by the Yankees, but I'll be increasingly in the flow of this here chat as the day goes on. Hey Reader Eric what went to Target Field - any thoughts on park effects?

Colin Wyers (10:08:42 AM PT): "OfficeDespot (NorCal): What do you think happened to dim Delmon Young's star, and will he rebound this year?"

I think his lack of performance at the major league level is what's dimmed his star. At some point you actually have to apply potential to actually winning ballgames.

Which isn't to say he can't. He's still young (no pun intended). But I don't know that it's the most likely scenario.

Kevin Goldstein (10:09:00 AM PT): Ok, Obama breaking out the Sox cap is pretty classic. That said, over the top mechanics really lack leg drive, I like the high arm angle, and while it lacked velocity and location, he did get some break on the pitch.

Steven Goldman (10:10:45 AM PT): He also had a reputation in Tampa for having an unearned star attitude. Don't know if that has changed in Minnesota or not.

Kevin Goldstein (10:10:47 AM PT): For the record, I really like Young for this year.

Dan (Chicago): Who is up first this year, Wallace or Alvarez?

Gonna be close, I'll switch it around and just say that Alvarez will be much more productive.

Steven Goldman (10:11:22 AM PT): That, of course, refers to Delmon, not Obama, or maybe it works in both cases, I don't know.

Kevin Goldstein (10:12:27 AM PT): William D-Fens Foster (Los Angeles): Does Cust end up with a new club this week, or earning a cool $3 mil in Sacramento?

Is there an AL team that needs a DH, and not a good one?

Kevin Goldstein (10:15:25 AM PT): jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): An opening day lineup that features both Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews Jr. has to be a joke, right?

You see me laughing?

Colin Wyers (10:16:20 AM PT): "rawagman (Toronto): In lieu of having percentiles for the various division races, what would a scenario where the Jays playing to their collective 75th percentile look like? For some of us, it will be a long season, and hope to cling to is always appreciated. Happy baseball!"

The root mean square error of these sort of projected standings is somewhere around 9 games, typically. What that means is about 68% of the time, we see team win totals within about nine games of where they're projected.

That means that the upside of the Jays is something like 81 wins. At two standard deviations, that's something like a 90 win team. That still requires three very good teams ahead of them to have things go wrong in order to see contention.

So it's unlikely. But you gotta have hope (spoken like a true Cubs fan here). Man's reach must ever exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?

Jay Jaffe (10:17:09 AM PT): Happy Opening Day. I got onto MLB.tv just in time to see Albert Pujols launch a solo homer off Aaron Harang in Cincy. If that doesn't say BASEBALL IS HERE I don't know what will.

Kevin Goldstein (10:17:37 AM PT): Well, I'm feeling pretty good about my Albert Pujols MVP pick right now. I know, I went out on a limb there. He just mashed one to center for the first run of the year. My inside information and highly advanced analysis has him as the best hitter in baseball -- you heard it here first.

Colin Wyers (10:18:45 AM PT): The White Sox could use a DH that's a better hitter than Andruw Jones. That doesn't mean much of anything, though - if you're willing to pass on Thome's bat, you're probably not interested in Cust.

Everyone's Favorite Intern (San Diego) (10:18:51 AM PT): Reviews on Joe Morgan's work in the booth last night?

Kevin Goldstein (10:20:11 AM PT): Hokieball (DC): I know that the Cardinals have a bit of a Stars-and-Scrubs problem in the batting order, but isn't putting Schumaker and Ryan at the top of the order a recipe for about 35 Pujols solo shots? Tell me that Rasmus and Freese are ticketed for those spots with a bit more seasoning?

I think Rasmus could end up their ideal No. 2 hitter, but Freese doesn't fit well ahead of the big boppers.

clay (10:21:39 AM PT): Hi gang, I'm in. Been switching back and forth between the game and "It Happens Every Spring".

As to Delmon Young - he posted translated EQAs of .265 in the minors in 2004-2006, and he's still posting EQAs of .260ish now. The hype on him was about someone that good at that age and expecting him to get better - and he hasn't gotten any better.

We talk about an age 27 peak - but that's only for players who have the capacity to learn and improve, which is true of most major leaguers. An awful lot of baseball players don't have that skill, but very few of them have the raw skill to make it to the majors without it, and wash out in the minors.

Steven Goldman (10:22:00 AM PT): DPOTD #6 (featuring twice-busted prospect Paul Strand) is up, now loading up MLB.tv. "Congratulations! Our records indicate that you reside within the continental United States! This game is blacked out, as are all other games! You're probably wondering what isn't blacked out. So are we."

Nice sequence in the Phillies-Nats game, E6 on Ian Desmond, Jimmy Rollins tries to score from second on the misplay, out at the plate.

Kevin Goldstein (10:22:18 AM PT): Musberger informs me that Orlando Cabrera gives the Reds a little more offense than they had at shortstop last year. Um, so does Colin.

Colin Wyers (10:23:54 AM PT): I was doing the math last night, and I figured out that I'm probably blacked out on at least a quarter of all games on MLB.tv (or EI), maybe a third. Iowa and Vegas really get the short end of the stick there.

Kevin Goldstein (10:24:02 AM PT): I picked the Reds to finish second in the NL Central this year. If they keep playing Dickerson over Stubbs in center, I'm lowering that number.

Colin Wyers (10:24:25 AM PT): ...are you calling me offensive?

Steven Goldman (10:24:51 AM PT): Same game, Nyjer Morgan leads off with an infield single, a "butcher boy" grounder to third. Stole 2B on the next pitch.

clay (10:27:44 AM PT): And after a called strike 3 with a pitch in the opposite batters box, Ryan Zimmerman doubles Morgan home.

Steven Goldman, Blossoming Nats Fan (10:28:05 AM PT): After Halladay struck out Willie Harris on a pitch a foot outside, Ryan Zimmerman launches one that just misses going out, chases Morgan home with a double. This is exciting stuff.

Jay Jaffe (10:31:30 AM PT): At least leading off with Chris Dickerson is an acceptable idea. Leading off with Drew Stubbs is not. If the Reds have Stubbs and Orlando Cabrera atop their lineup, you can guarantee they'll finish below .500.

Jay Jaffe (10:36:20 AM PT): Jake (California): How can I find statistics on multiple-home run games? I would like to find out who had the most multiple-home run games over the past few years.

That's a job for the awesome Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, which is well worth the subscription price if you lie awake at nights wondering such things.

Here's a list of multi-homer games since 2000: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/b2ezk

Alex Rodriguez leads with 42 of them since then, followed by Manny Ramirez at 36 and Vlad Guerrero at 35.

Steven Goldman (10:45:47 AM PT): Obama: "The nice thing about the Sox is that it's real blue-collar baseball." What does that mean?

Jay Jaffe (10:48:09 AM PT): Steve, perhaps the President was referring to these collars?

Steven Goldman, Political Commentator (10:49:39 AM PT): You may be right, Jay... My first thought was, "What, White Sox ballplayers aren't millionaires?"

Steven Goldman (10:51:24 AM PT): I really ought to send Obama a copy of BP 2010. He seems to know this stuff pretty well. Wouldn't you want to relax with a nice baseball book between position papers?

Colin Wyers (10:51:32 AM PT): I think he's referring to the fans, not necessarily the ballplayers. Sox fans like to brag about how they're real fans, unlike the Cubs fans that don't even know what baseball is.

I don't know why they don't just brag about, well, winning things instead. Because they do have that advantage.

Colin Wyers (10:54:06 AM PT): "Yatchisin (Dreamsville): David Wright homers in his first at bat of 2010. The power is back! And don't talk to me about small sample sizes...it's Opening Day."

"jesse hoff (Swarthmore): David Wright, 5 homers in spring, hit one today (already as many as he had in april last year). The powers back? Heading for 30 hr?"

Wake me when Francoeur takes a walk.

Kevin Goldstein (10:59:15 AM PT): Swingingbunts (NY): So who gets "The Call" first Drabek, Hellickson or Strasburg?

I'll go in reverse order there, but these kind of questions are impossible to answer. You have to remember that callups are rarely for talent, and mostly for need. Talent we can predict, need we can not.

Jay Jaffe (11:00:28 AM PT): And there's Vicente Padilla, Dodgers' Opening Day starter, giving up a game-tying two-run homer to Garrett Jones. That went about 738 feet.

Russell A. Carleton (11:01:01 AM PT): Is this thing on? Hey everyone, it's Russell A. Carleton, and I'm attempting to triple-task, watching the Cards-Reds (you're reading it here first, Albert Pujols WILL hit 700 HR this year... he's already on pace), this chat, and... my daughter who just discovered the joys of crawling... so if you don't hear from me for a while... hey Narlie... get away from that...

Kevin Goldstein (11:02:14 AM PT): I know this isn't a big shock or anything, but Carpenter is crazy sharp today.

Jay Jaffe (11:02:24 AM PT): And there's Vicente Padilla, Dodgers' Opening Day starter, giving up a game-tying two-run homer to Garrett Jones. That went about 738 feet.

Colin Wyers (11:03:57 AM PT): That's a dangerous age, Russell. Next, she'll learn to walk. Then she'll figure out that it's easier just to tell YOU to go do it, and she'll learn to talk...

Kevin Goldstein (11:04:32 AM PT): Excellent shot on Comcast Chicago of Freddy Garcia putting his dip in. Yup, it's baseball season.

Steven Goldman (11:07:37 AM PT): And Ryan Howard launches one. I think in our eagerness to poke holes in his game, we sometimes forget how much fun he is.

Clay Davenport (11:08:12 AM PT): Mark McGwire sure looks strange with a gray goatee.

David Laurila (11:09:07 AM PT): I do believe that Mr. Colby Rasmus has gone deep. He will do that many more times this season.

Colin Wyers (11:09:53 AM PT): "J.P. (Hartford): I think the president was referring to the dreaded 'smallball' that the Sox supposedly play."

Very possible.

I do want to just note briefly that there's a lot of white collar workers in the early history of baseball. (Warning: PDF.) If you want to know why baseball has such an obsession with counting things, it's because a lot of the early ballplayers were clerks and accountants.

Kevin Goldstein (11:11:12 AM PT): I'm switching to White Sox/Indians. Jake Westbrook as an opening day guy? That's Dodgers/Pirates territory.

Jay Jaffe (11:11:21 AM PT): This spate of early season home runs has me thinking the ball must be juiced.

Jay Jaffe (11:12:10 AM PT): Westbrook and the Blue Jays' Shaun Marcum are both making opening day starts as their first major league outings since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Colin Wyers (11:12:42 AM PT): "Mark Smith (Lexington, KY): I wish I could watch the Reds-Cards game on ESPN. Instead, I'm blacked out. Thoughts on blackout restrictions or what to do about them?"

There's a great tension here between doing what's best for the fans (and in the long run the product) and doing what makes the people who give you money happy. The broadcasting rights are big moneymakers for teams, and the blackout restrictions preserve some of the value of those rights.

Colin Wyers (11:13:38 AM PT): "This spate of early season home runs has me thinking the ball must be juiced."

...you mean more than it has been the past two decades or so?

Christina Kahrl (11:15:13 AM PT): Howdy gang, just checking in from the Cell. Glorious April day in Chicago, and the Cell's never looked prettier

Clay Davenport (11:16:15 AM PT): John Lannan went three strong against the Phils, but can barely get anyone out the second time through. Highlighted by that massive Howard homer. Halladay with a swinging bunt to deliver career RBI #2.

Steven Goldman (11:18:37 AM PT): The Nats booth has been visited by both President Obama and Commish Selig. I believe that former Secretary of the Treasury/Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase is up next.

Kevin Goldstein (11:18:43 AM PT): White Sox announcers and staff's pick to click today: Teahan, Rios, Kotsay. Um, I'll take the field.

That said, Carlos Quentin laces a double in the first and while it might be opening day optimism, that's as comfortable and free as I've seen his swing since 08.

Colin Wyers (11:18:58 AM PT): For those wondering what I mean by the juiced ball comment, here's a quick graph of home runs per contact from '74 to '09.

Kevin Goldstein (11:19:57 AM PT): Konerko follows with a 2-run blast, thus proving the hugely statistically proven juiced ball theory as it certainly couldn't have been the upper-80s straight fastball up in the zone.

Christina Kahrl (11:20:04 AM PT): Quentin's double to right followed by Konerko's first-pitch homer to right doesn't bode well for what I'd thought was a pair of fast-working starters.

Colin Wyers (11:22:25 AM PT): "Scott (Greenville, SC): How effective are blackout restrictions?I'm blacked out from the Reds/Cards game in South Carolina. Even on MLB.tv, this year I'm blacked out from every Reds game. That seems a bit paranoid."

What I do want to note about these kinds of blackout restrictions is that they simply prohibit the retransmission of that game via MLB.tv or EI. You can in theory still get the game, if you can find a cable or satellite provider that carries the game.

This is likely a bit more useful to those with sat, as they will typically carry most RSNs on their sports tier, and if you aren't blacked out for those RSNs you can still watch the games. (Normally it's an inverse thing - if you're blacked out for EI/MLB.tv then you get the RSN.)

Clay Davenport (11:25:22 AM PT): After facing 10 batters in the fourth and still only two out, Lannan's finally pulled in DC. Jesse English makes his major league debut against Ryan Howard with the bases loaded - and gets him to ground out. Nats down 5-1.

Clay Davenport (11:27:52 AM PT): After facing 10 batters in the fourth and still only two out, Lannan's finally pulled in DC. Jesse English makes his major league debut against Ryan Howard with the bases loaded - and gets him to ground out. Nats down 5-1.

Kevin Goldstein (11:31:20 AM PT): I actually think the Astros might finish last this year in the NL Central, even behind the Pirates. Check out this opening day lineup.

Bourn CF
Matsui 2B
Pence RF
Lee LF
Blum 1B
Feliz 3B
Towles C
Manzella SS
Oswalt P

Kevin Goldstein (11:33:50 AM PT): So I flipped the the ESPN game and it's the Tigers Wood press conference. Are you kidding me? Don't you have 2,483 networks to distribute stuff like this?

Colin Wyers (11:33:56 AM PT): "Jesse Hoff (Swarthmore): Wyers are you awake?"

Um... yes?

Colin Wyers (11:35:16 AM PT): Although now I'm starting to worry that I need to up my caffeine dosage.

Jay Jaffe (11:35:37 AM PT): Colin, that juiced comment was tongue in cheek. I'm well aware of home run trends.

Kevin Goldstein (11:36:03 AM PT): Ah, the Woods presser in on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews. Yeah, that makes sense. As if I needed any more reasons to hate golf in anything other than Japanese video game form. In other news, my kid's band is in the basement, butchering The Sweater Song, which I taught them, because it's so damn easy.

Steven Goldman (11:36:42 AM PT): Kevin, if that happens, it will be interesting to see what happens to Ed Wade's reputation. In the wake of the Phillies' recent success, there has been a spate of "Ed got a raw deal/he really built this wonderful team" revisionist coverage.

Clay Davenport (11:36:50 AM PT): Colin- Francouer walked.

Colin Wyers (11:37:46 AM PT): "jesse hoff (Swarthmore): Well Jeff Francouer just took a walk. Matching his total for april last year. Will he make 30 this year?"

Probably about 50/50 there.

Steven Goldman (11:41:38 AM PT): Relax, Jay, Colin. One of you is clairvoyant, the other omniscient. There's bound to be some overlap.

Kevin Goldstein (11:42:31 AM PT): Michael Brantley up for the Indians. So our readers know, his agent is Josh Kusnick, who had been writing some highly entertaining stuff for us this year. Kusnick also reps Phillie Rule 5 pick David Herndon, who made the Phillies roster out of spring training.

Colin Wyers (11:42:31 AM PT): I figured Jay was kidding, but I've had that graph sitting around for the past week or so and was waiting for some excuse to use it.

Kevin Goldstein (11:48:16 AM PT): I feel really smart for being on the Pirates pre-game show today and saying that Garrett Jones' 2009 showing was a fluke.

Kevin Goldstein (11:55:54 AM PT): A quick glance at the scoreboard generated 12 home runs in approximately 31 innings so far.

Colin Wyers (11:58:12 AM PT): The little line scores on MLB.com's front page seem to be a bit wonky. They seem to be showing the scores for the Cardinals-Reds game for some of the innings in the other games. Is anyone else having this problem?

Christina Kahrl (11:58:44 AM PT): After hitting a first-pitch homer in the bottom of the first, Konerko works a nine-pitch at-bat to load the bases in the third. I'd be curious to see who has the widest variability in their at-bats, in terms of having really short PAs and longer ones, as opposed to guys who reliably get around their average, time and again.

Jay Jaffe (12:02:10 PM PT): 12 homers in 31 innings? That's an 8466 home run pace for the season, a 68 percent increase on last year.

I stand by my juiced ball allegations.

Colin Wyers (12:03:20 PM PT): Need to account for the cold weather, Jay. Once the ball gets livelier in the summer, you're probably looking at over 9,000 home runs for the season.

Christina Kahrl (12:04:51 PM PT): OTOH, the Ozzie number just went from 100 percent of Sox runs scored on homers to just 50 percent, proving that... well, proving nothing.

David Laurila (12:06:34 PM PT): For those of you not watching Cards-Reds, Orlando Cabrera just showed an alarming lack of range not getting to a ball hit toward the middle.

Steven Goldman (12:08:31 PM PT): Shawn Marcum no-hitter through four? Truly anything can happen on this wondrous day.

Steven Goldman (12:09:20 PM PT): David, reminds me of Dorothy Parker's review of an early Katherine Hepburn stage performance: "She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B."

Kevin Goldstein (12:10:35 PM PT): The vaunted Rangers offense, at home, against Shaun Marcum, has zero hits through four innings.

Steven Goldman (12:11:23 PM PT): It just occurred to me that because I was busy watching the Yankees game last night I forgot to watch "The Pacific" on HBO. Damn.

Christina Kahrl (12:14:20 PM PT): Clearly, Ian Kinsler's the straw that stirs the whatever it is that Texans drink. Margaritas?

Clay Davenport (12:16:22 PM PT): Opening Day last year had 30 home runs total, but was a lot colder. 37 in Cincy, 42 in St Louis, 49 in Texas, 56 in Baltimore.

This year, the coldest start (so far) is in Chicago, at 62. New York gets a 66, Milwaukee a 68, Pitt and Texas at 76, Washington and Cincinnati at 78. Top of my head guess says those are closer to May averages than April.

Kevin Goldstein (12:16:38 PM PT): If the president is still at the Nats game (highly doubtful), he's probably calling from some humanitarian aid to come in. It's the ugliest game of the day so far.

Colin Wyers (12:17:24 PM PT): I am reliably informed that in the South one must have two pina coladas. (They've got to have one for each hand.)

Colin Wyers (12:19:55 PM PT): Can Clay run a quick PECOTA projection for humanitarian aid?

Kevin Goldstein (12:19:59 PM PT): Alain (Paris (TX)): Chances Garrett Jones is legit?

Despite today's showing, I still think those chances are low.

David Laurila (12:21:13 PM PT): With a 4-run lead in the 7th inning, Tony LaRussa brings in a lefty to face a lefty to start the inning. The batter K's. LaRussa then brings in a righthander.

Baseball games last much longer than they used to.

Christina Kahrl (12:22:14 PM PT): I was going to say, it ain't 62 here in Chicago. Currently says 73 on the scoreboard. Maybe it's translated warmth? :)

Steven Goldman (12:22:38 PM PT): Colin, I don't think PECOTA is equipped to account for the possibility of a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Steven Goldman (12:24:24 PM PT): The guy who parachuted onto the field at Arlington before the game just said, "I also sky dive into elementary schools and corporate events." Somehow that just made me uncomfortable.

Steven Goldman (12:26:02 PM PT): After this break, Marcum takes his no-hitter into inning #6.

David Laurila (12:26:33 PM PT): Mark Buehrle just made the nicest defensive play of the season. Not the season thus far, the season.

Only slight hyperbole here. Wow.

Russell A. Carleton (12:27:32 PM PT): It's all the hot air coming from the Blizzard of Ozz.

Jay Jaffe (12:28:03 PM PT): Enough of Vicente Padilla and company. I've got to see what's going on with Shaun Marcum.

Kevin Goldstein (12:29:08 PM PT): They'll be showing that Buehrle 1-3 between the legs toss all day . . . maybe all year.

Christina Kahrl (12:29:33 PM PT): As if there weren't enough reasons to enjoy a Buehrle start, he makes an incredible play: liner that deflected off of his own foot, ricochets towards foul ground, but he gets to the ball, nearly colliding with Marson, and flips it behind his back, shoveling it with his glove, to get Marson.

Kevin Goldstein (12:30:12 PM PT): Carl (Boston): 2 questions: 1) What is the story with Elijah Dukes, anyway? Why was he released and why hasn't anyone picked him up? 2) David Wright - is the power back? Or is it just opening day?

1. He's a bad human being.
2. Impossible to say, but I'm optimistic.

Russell A. Carleton (12:32:11 PM PT): As an Indians fan, may I express my hope that Mark Buehrle decides to join an international humanitarian aid organization in the next five minutes?

Russell A. Carleton (12:33:33 PM PT): Dukes is Barry Bonds Jr. There's no doubt that he has talent, but do you really want the PR nightmare?

Steven "Spoilers" Goldman (12:34:05 PM PT): Six in the books for Marcum...

Colin Wyers (12:34:13 PM PT): If he could hit like Bonds I certainly would.

Steven Goldman (12:36:54 PM PT): It seems like a non-sequitur, but John McGraw would have taken Dukes. He lived to try to get value out of players who had personality problems. Sometimes this worked out really well (Turkey Mike Donlin) other times no so much (Hal Chase) and the practice helped kill him at 60, but this was of great value to the Giants over the years. I don't know if there is a manager who has the same desire and ability that McGraw had to play with fire that way, but if there is such a man he could have a similar impact... Dukes may be beyond that kind of intervention, even if McGraw were alive today, but there's no way to know until you try.

Steven Goldman (12:39:20 PM PT): When pitcher Bugs Raymond was stomped to death in a bar brawl, McGraw's only comment was, "That man took seven years off of my life." He was probably right, the prostate cancer notwithstanding.

Colin Wyers (12:39:32 PM PT): Just got a press release from the Cardinals affiliate here that top prospect Shelby Miller is their opening-day starter. I think I have my weekend planned out now.

Kevin Goldstein (12:40:34 PM PT): Colin: Scouts were raving this spring.

Clay Davenport (12:41:31 PM PT): tvwilkins (princeton): What are the odds that the 3 good AL East teams (with the some help from the non-horrible Orioles and Blue Jays) beat each other enough that the wild card comes out of the Central or West?

About 1 in 3. I'm giving the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays about a 20% chance apiece of making the WC, with another 7.5% going to the Os and Jays.

Steven Goldman (12:47:43 PM PT): The Rangers home broadcast: spectacularly annoying. They have a no-hitter going on and they keep interrupting the action for all kinds of man-in-the-stands superfluous crap. A very, very bad job by the producer, whoever he is.

...And as I type that, Vlad Guerrero singles. No-no over.

Jay Jaffe (12:48:39 PM PT): and there goes Marcum's bid for a no-hitter, as Vlad dunks one into right field. 6.1 innings of no-no ball in a return from Tommy John surgery is pretty impressive nonetheless.

David Laurila (12:50:13 PM PT): Brandon Phillips just stole third with a left-handed hitter up. There were two on in the 8th with the hitter representing the tying run. He was safe on a close play, but the question must be asked: WHY?

Steven Goldman (12:50:52 PM PT): Three-run homer, Nelson Cruz, game tied. You could just smell that coming.

David Laurila (12:54:08 PM PT): Drew Stubbs with a base hit to drive in a Cinci run. He is now 2 for 2 since coming into the game. Hey Dusty, are you watching/paying attention?

Jay Jaffe (12:57:15 PM PT): Enough of Vicente Padilla and company. I've got to see what's going on with Shaun Marcum.

Jay Jaffe (12:58:15 PM PT): Wow, that was unexpected. I had an answer to a question about Yogi Berra and instead my Padilla answer comes through.

David Laurila (1:03:24 PM PT): Albert Pujols is a good baseball player. Four hits today, two of them leaving the yard.

Jay Jaffe (1:06:31 PM PT): Jquinton82 (NY): Heres a few topics: 1) Madison Bumgarner's missing velocity 2) First top 25 prospect to get called up, who & when? 3) The next Jimmy Rollins is...? 4) Word association - Yogi Berra ...discuss amongst yourselves

1) Either he's hurt, or he left it in his other pants. Like lost car keys, missing velocity is always in the last place you look.

2) Well, with Jason Heyward, Neftali Feliz, Brian Matusz and Alcides Escobar breaking camp, this doesn't seem like that big a deal, but I'll go with Buster Posey, May 9, after Bengie Molina sprains some fat.

3) ...taller than Rollins and hopefully blessed with a better OBP.

4) Provider of great book titles by cool people, including our own It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over and friend Emma Span's 90% of The Game Is Half Mental, which is one of this spring's funniest baseball books.

Speaking of Yogi, I read a quote the other day that was attributed to him: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." Alas, that quote has also been attributed to one Johannes "Jan" L. A. van de Snepscheut, a Dutch computer scientist who taught at Caltech before bludgeoning his wife to death with an axe in 1994.

So there's a happy tale.

David Laurila (1:09:05 PM PT): Yadier Molina with a granny in the ninth and Reds fans are not happy.

Russell A. Carleton (1:14:22 PM PT): Philosophical question: It isn't looking good for my beloved Indians (5-0 going into the 8th)... should I watch until the bitter end or turn to another game?

Colin Wyers (1:14:37 PM PT): Speaking of the local Cards affiliate - the mascot just walked through my office. I'm not even kidding about this.

Steven Goldman (1:18:43 PM PT): When Tiger Woods denies using performance-enhancing drugs, which of his performances is he referring to?

Steven Goldman (1:19:21 PM PT): When Tiger Woods denies using performance-enhancing drugs, which of his performances is he referring to?

Steven Goldman (1:19:45 PM PT): I, um... I didn't do that.

Steven Goldman (1:21:03 PM PT): Marlon Byrd puts one in the seats, Jason Heyward about to make his hitting debut in Atlanta...

Christina Kahrl (1:24:26 PM PT): Seems like enhanced performance, Mr. Goldman. ;)

David Laurila (1:25:35 PM PT): I've heard of this Heyward guy.

Russell A. Carleton (1:25:59 PM PT): redsoxin2004 (Columbia, CT): Twenty years from now I'm going to tell my son (currently 2) that I was lucky to see Pujols play. Not really a question just a commentary how scary good he is.

I'll tell my daughter the same thing. Last year, BP did an event in Pittsburgh and the Pirates were hosting the Cardinals, although Pujols did not start the game. He pinch hit in the 10th inning and hit a home run to put the Cards up 2-1, which was the eventual final score. I can tell her I not only saw him play, but I saw one of his HR... and it's a good thing he did, because otherwise, my only story from that day would be "I met Eric Seidman."

Christina Kahrl (1:28:53 PM PT): I was just musing to myself about how Alex Rios' stance reminds me of Von Hayes--spread low, slightly knock-kneed, and will he, like Hayes, always just be that slightly less than expected but still-good player--and before I complete the thought, he's jacked a 407-foot shot over the center-field fence.

Steven Goldman (1:28:58 PM PT): Given how efficiently Carlos Zambrano is not getting outs in this inning, Heyward may actually hit here in the bottom of the first.

David Laurila (1:31:51 PM PT): The Cubs would be out of the inning already had they been utilizing a short fielder. Where is that softball strategy when you need it?

Christina Kahrl (1:33:46 PM PT): Hafner fouls off Thornton's ninth consecutive strike of the inning; the 10th is a diving snag by Rios to end the game.

Marc Nomandin (1:34:11 PM PT): I just got back from my first day at the local gym, which, to my surprise, had televisions on the exercise bikes. A few innings of White Sox/Indians in the books, and now I'm back home to my sedentary lifestyle. So happy that baseball is back.

Steven Goldman (1:34:46 PM PT): Three-run homer for Heyward!!!

David Laurila (1:34:52 PM PT): Baseball, much like life, is all about possibilities. Perhaps that might have been the first MLB at bat of a Hall of Famer.

Russell A. Carleton (1:35:13 PM PT): Could you have written that any better for Jason Heyward?

Colin Wyers (1:35:17 PM PT): Zambrano's 162.00 ERA has nowhere to go but down, right?

...right?

Kevin Goldstein (1:35:28 PM PT): Jason Heyward is good at baseball.

Marc Nomandin (1:36:40 PM PT): Jason Heyward versus Justin Upton is one of the arguments I'm looking forward to the most over the next decade. So. Good.

Steven Goldman (1:41:32 PM PT): I look forward to all those people having "Justin Heyward or your girlfriend" arguments WITH their girlfriends.

David Laurila (1:46:41 PM PT): The Rangers with two in the 9th to beat Toronto 5-4. Marcum seems like a long time ago.

Steven Goldman (1:46:56 PM PT): redsoxin2004 (Columbia, CT): Twenty years from now I'm going to tell my son (currently 2) that I was lucky to see Pujols play. Not really a question just a commentary how scary good he is.

And I'm going to tell my son that I saw Bobby Meacham.

Also, that no matter how many people tell him he was named after Roger Clemens, I had bigger game in mind.

Russell A. Carleton (1:49:03 PM PT): I'm worried that my wife might pick Jason Heyward over me. Then again, last night, while we were watching the Yankees/Red Sox game, she said "So is it better to have a DH or to have the pitcher hit?" I encouraged her to re-phrase the question as "Is there a God?" Much less contentious.

Russell A. Carleton (1:51:03 PM PT): Also, the Yankees are in last place. The world seems a little brighter.

Marc Normandin (1:51:15 PM PT): Normally allowing a run to score on something other than a homer is a team effort, but Carlos Zambrano did a pretty good job making that Prado run his own fault.

Marc Normandin (2:04:56 PM PT): Switching to the most important game of today: Jon Garland's opening day start.

Marc Normandin (2:16:18 PM PT): Dear Padres,

I can deal with Tony Gwynn leading off, but David Eckstein in the #2 spot is just not acceptable. Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Blanks need people to drive in.

Love,

Marc

Steven Goldman (2:16:28 PM PT): nghunter (Austin): Steven, I take it that his name is Clemens and it's a Mark Twain reference...

Ding! And what a heavy (and mixed) legacy to give to a child.

Steven Goldman (2:17:57 PM PT): I see that Heyward made an out while I was greeting an unexpected guest. We may have to revise our expectations downwards.

Steven Goldman (2:20:45 PM PT): I want to upgrade my TV. I have one science-fiction TV (LCD, I mean, a JVC) that's pretty good, but it's not in my main viewing area. I want a really good-sized, modern TV, but don't want to go broke doing it. Any suggestions?

Marc Normandin (2:20:53 PM PT): Jon Garland's first attempt at a no-hitter, broken up in the first inning.

I actually like the Garland signing a lot, given the NL and Petco, but it's still fun to tease.

Steven Goldman, fashion police (2:28:39 PM PT): The Royals look oddly mismatched, top throwback powder blue, bottom white. It looks like someone mixed up the laundry.

Christina Kahrl (2:30:36 PM PT): Back from the bowels of the ballpark, that Rios blast kept the Guillen number at 50 percent, time to take a look at the scoreboard... I'm surprised KG isn't talking smack about the Mets.

Marc Normandin (2:31:37 PM PT): Garland is throwing a lot of challenge fastballs in the early goings. I mean, they are going 91, but he's taunting hitters with high heat, and they are biting.

Marc Normandin (2:35:33 PM PT): Bad things happen when you force Jon Garland to earn four outs in an inning. 2-0 D'backs, thanks to Miggy Montero driving in two with a single.

Now Chris Young is up--will be finally hit like we've all been waiting for, or is he another D'backs prospect that doesn't put it together?

Christina Kahrl (2:36:44 PM PT): Just caught up on the fact of the Heyward homer... well, that's up there with Will Clark's homering off of Nolan Ryan his first time up in terms of fulfilling expectations from his first live-game introduction.

Dan Wade (2:39:26 PM PT): Heyward's home run might have been the most important bomb of the day, but I'm torn between Yuniesky Betancourt's and Carlos Gomez's for the most surprising.

Christina Kahrl (2:41:43 PM PT): Is more evidence of a rabbit ball required, than facts such as those?

Marc Normandin (2:41:49 PM PT): I wish Chase Headley's middle name was Lamar.

David Laurila (2:43:12 PM PT): Notable on the long-ball front is the fact that Scott Rolen nearly went deep twice. Colby Rasmus went above the wall to steal what what would have been his second earlier today.

Marc Normandin (2:46:43 PM PT): One of two things: great catch by Nate McLouth, or great act of wizardy to fire the ball back in to the infield before the infield umps could see the ball come loose.

David Laurila (2:46:47 PM PT): Nate McLouth did not catch that ball IMO.

Dan Wade (2:47:58 PM PT): Agreed, David. That ball was clearly on the ground.

Ken Funck (2:48:01 PM PT): kcboomer (kc): I want to hear some more about BP's projection for the Royals to win 72+ games. I just watched Bloomquist circle the wagons and drop a pop up to allow an unearned run and then in the bottom of the first the Royals sac bunt with one on and no outs. Needless to say that was the end of that "rally".

Sure, but maybe they're due for a karmic readjustment. David DeJesus broke out the ugliest slide this side of "Major League" stealing second, and got up laughing. For the old Royals, he would have injured his shoulder on that play and missed a month.

Marc Normandin (2:49:05 PM PT): McLouth did *not* catch that ball, but I'm willing to give it to him solely because he picked it up threw it back as quick as he did. Points for style and deceit.

Ken Funck (2:57:32 PM PT): Bernie (Brewer): Anyone optimistic about Carlos Gomez?

Doug Melvin, probably.

Marc Normandin (2:59:09 PM PT): Both games I'm watching in picture-in-picture are on a commercial break. I'm not mentally prepared for this.

David Laurila (3:00:21 PM PT): Billy Butler is 1 for 3, and unless my math skills are askew, that means he is hitting .333. Would it be false to assume his average will be close to that on October 1st?

Ken Funck (3:01:35 PM PT): Me, not so much, despite Gomez looking so good on opening day. He'll probably play enough defense and steal enough bases to make him a worthwhile player at the bottom of the order, but sticking him in the 2-hole ahead of the Fidler/Braun thumping machine is not a bright idea.

Ken Funck (3:03:21 PM PT): I'd take the under on .333 for Butler, but not by a lot.

Jay Jaffe (3:03:31 PM PT): Yatchisin (Realityville): Not to bust anyone's Heyward excitement, but Jordan Schafer hit a home run opening day last year.

Heyward came into the year ranked as the #2 prospect on our Top 101 list. He controls the strike zone better, has much more power, and is much more advanced at 20 years old than Schafer was at 22 last year, when he came into the year as our #50 prospect (down from #17 the year before).

Marc Normandin (3:05:05 PM PT): Mark Reynolds picking up where he left off from 2009, taking Jon Garland deep despite not getting all of the pitch.

David Laurila (3:15:38 PM PT): Greinke is out after six and it is up to the Royals bullpen to hold off the Tigers. Fours batters later, a 4-2 lead is a 5-4 deficit.

David Laurila (3:17:20 PM PT): Austin Jackson with his first MLB hit in the inning BTW.

Dan Wade (3:18:41 PM PT): The Cubs' bullpen was doing a pretty good job after Zambrano's meltdown, but Jeff Samardzija just lost the plot. Should have played football.

David Laurila (3:21:41 PM PT): Jeff Samardzija is getting shelled in Atlanta.

Ken Funck (3:24:58 PM PT): In Serbian, Samardzija is defined as "the indigestion you feel after eating an embarrassingly overpriced yet wholly unsatisfying meal."

Steven Goldman (3:25:37 PM PT): According to WXRL, the 1999 Royals had the worst bullpen in modern history. The 2010 Royals have gotten an excellent jump on their record today, and they haven't even used Kyle Farnsworth yet.

Russell A. Carleton (3:32:11 PM PT): TedSox9 (Bristol, England.): Just watched Franklin Morales close out the Brewers - Rockies game, he was throwing 96 consistently from the start (even though he was pretty erratic). Could Morales potentially take over from Fuentes on a full-time basis in your opinion?

I have to say that I didn't watch that particular game, but this sounds like a good candidate for "Just because you throw 96, it does not make you a good closer" the same way that being fast doesn't make you a good leadoff hitter.

Jay Jaffe (3:35:17 PM PT): So, mid-meltdown, the viewers of the Royals game have been polled as to which newcomer will help the most:

Rick Ankiel 28%
Chris Getz 28%
Jason Kendall 17%
Scott Podsednik 27%

Clearly, "None of the above, they're all godawful, now please let me start my 162 games of suffering in peace" wasn't accepted as a valid answer.

Russell A. Carleton (3:36:13 PM PT): Vote for the best commentary today: Reds radio announcer Chris Welsh made a comment regarding Reds rookie RHP Logan Ondrusek. Welsh commented that part of what makes Ondrusek so effective is that he has an incredible stride towards home plate. Ondrusek, who is about 6'8" has a huge stride towards the plate, thereby increasing his perceived velocity from 96 mph to close to 99 mph. Very reminiscent of the research shown by Eric Seidman last season.

And people said that Sabermetrics would never catch on. Hey wait a minute, has anyone ever seen Eric and Chris Welsh in the same room?

Marc Normandin (3:37:55 PM PT): Jon Garland's out of the game, down 6-0. His curveball wasn't sharp (he gave up a two-run single to Montero with it, as well as the crushed homer by Mark Reynolds) but the defense cost him, too.

Stephen Drew hit a ball off of an outcropping in deep center, bounced into left field away from Tony Gwynn and turned into an inside-the-park homer. Tough day, but he wasn't six runs through four innings bad.

Ken Funck (3:40:09 PM PT): airlifting (chicago): please talk about matt thornton....he has to be one of the three best relievers in baseball, right?

Well, with Nathan hurt, thereís Rivera, and probably Broxton, and Ö yeah, I guess youíre right. Thereís nobody else Iím absolutely certain is better than him, though maybe a half-dozen more guys could be in the conversation. Anyone else want to nominate someone? And unlike most of those other guys, Ozzie can use Thornton to get out of a jam in the 7th if thatís whatís needed.

Russell A. Carleton (3:42:59 PM PT): Papelbon? Brad Lidge in even-numbered years?

Colin Wyers (3:46:04 PM PT): ...can I retract my earlier comments about the Cubs bullpen?

Matt Swartz (3:46:13 PM PT): Hi, everyone! I just got back from the Phillies/Nationals game in DC. LOTS of Phillies fans showed up at the stadium. Even with the Nationals giving away free hats, it seemed like there were more Phillies hats than Nationals hats there. I think this Halladay guy might have some fun in the NL.

Ken Funck (3:49:34 PM PT): Papelbon has put up surprisingly similar numbers to Thornton the last couple years; I'm not absolutely certain he's better.

Christina Kahrl (3:53:36 PM PT): And, just filing my game story from the Cell, in time to go dive into rush-hour traffic, so just popping back in here to see... oof, how 'bout them Cubs. < / desultory >

Matt Swartz (4:01:26 PM PT): Just saw the replay of the Mark Buehrle play on ESPN2-- wow, I am so excited baseball is back!

David Laurila (4:05:28 PM PT): Kyle Fansworth with a prefect inning, including a K.

Ken Funck (4:06:49 PM PT): Buehrle's play was terrific, though I felt bad for Lou Marson, who not only got robbed on that play but was complicit in four Jake Westbrook wild pitches, all of which were balls Marson probably could have stopped.

Christina Kahrl (4:07:02 PM PT): Speaking of desultory, I forgot to check in with ESPN earlier today to see if my five most loathsome Opening Day roster decisions had run, but it did; just tossed that up on to the site. Now I'm ready for traffic.

Matt Swartz (4:10:36 PM PT): Looking at the pitching match-up and the lineups in the Giants/Astros game, I'm guessing this game lasts about an hour and a half.

Christina Kahrl (4:14:02 PM PT): Kevin's point earlier today about the Astros' lineup is the big reason why I decided to be all bold and exciting and peg the Pirates for fifth place in the staff picks on Sunday.

Matt Swartz (4:21:01 PM PT): Christina, I think yours might have been a good pick there. I thought about it but ultimately decided that there was a good chance would make win now moves in July if the Astros were close to .500, and wimped out of picking the Pirates ahead of them.

David Laurila (4:21:49 PM PT): The Tigers, who will go on to win the AL Central, close out the Trey Hillmans 8-4.

Meanwhile, Tim Lincecum is really fun to watch pitch.

Ken Funck (4:23:29 PM PT): Lincecum/Oswalt against those lineups has the feel of a game from 1967.

Steven Goldman (4:37:18 PM PT): Judging by some of the crowd shots, far from a sellout in Houston.

David Laurila (4:38:09 PM PT): I can see the three AL races bearing a similarity to the 1967 AL pennant race.

Matt Swartz (4:40:44 PM PT): Pedro Feliz slings a single off through the hole against Tim Lincecum. It is beautiful the kind of random events that happen in small sample sizes.

Steven Goldman (4:41:25 PM PT): How is it that Bill Madlock doesn't show up on Pablo Sandoval's list of PECOTA comps? They're the same guy. Same chunky build (official heights and weights are identical) similar batting results, same position(s)...

David Laurila (4:44:27 PM PT): The Pujols/Rasmus storm that hit Cincinnati this afternoon has been replaced by a thunderstorm and tornado watch.

All in all, pretty decent weather to begin the season in most locales last night and today.

Matt Swartz (4:44:50 PM PT): "JoshC77 (Columbus): Is Joe Morgan on crack? The Giants are lucky to have Molina back? Posey may not be ready???"

Yeah, I enjoyed that comment too. The fact that he thinks it though means that millions of other people will hear him say it and think it too.

Steven Goldman (4:46:59 PM PT): A few years ago, if you tell someone that the Mets spent a winter obsessively trying to sign Bengie Molina, they won't believe you.

Colin Wyers (4:48:15 PM PT): "redsoxin2004 (Columbia): Do you know of any teams, or individual players, that are using Pitch F/x or similar data in scouting and game preparation?"

Brian Bannister is probably the most prominent player using Pitch F/X and other sorts of data. There are several teams using Pitch F/X at least to some extent - most teams had reps in San Francisco for Sportvision's Pitch F/X Summit.

Matt Swartz (5:16:21 PM PT): Oswalt is now starting the third time through the lineup and just got his first K.

Steven Goldman (5:16:56 PM PT): There are four ex-Navy Frogs in the GM's box with Ed Wade right now. If any Astros fans are planning to storm the box and remove Ed by force, this is NOT the time. You are going to get your asses kicked, so stand down NOW.

Steph Bee (5:34:16 PM PT): PhillyFriar (Boston): Worse idea: tabbing Vicente Padilla as your Opening Day starter? Or the entire Giants lineup?

Easy: Padilla is your Opening Day starter for only one day and takes the ball only once every five days. The Giants' lineup is for the entire year.

Steven Goldman (5:34:24 PM PT): For those of us who remember Hensley Meulens as a player, the idea of him as a hitting coach is both wonderful and terrifying.

Steven Goldman (5:37:43 PM PT): Steph Bee (5:34:16 PM PT): PhillyFriar (Boston): Worse idea: tabbing Vicente Padilla as your Opening Day starter? Or the entire Giants lineup?

Neither is as bad as this woman my friend Bruce married. I just don't understand the attraction between some people. They have nothing in common, she's loud and abrasive and hates baseball, and belittles him constantly. Bruce would definitely have been better off with Padilla.

Steph Bee (5:41:39 PM PT): Are you sure about that? Even if Padilla showed off his excellent marksmanship?

Colin Wyers (5:45:04 PM PT): The thing about the Padilla-as-opening-day-starter routine isn't (or wasn't, I s'pose) about how bad it was but about how pointless it was. Literally, there was no cost to using anyone BUT Padilla as the opening starter.

Steven Goldman (5:45:35 PM PT): The limits of imagination: baseball looks at Tim Lincecum's unorthodox delivery and says, "We're still right about everything we know about pitching mechanics; he's just a fluke, an outlier, and not-to-be-repeated freak" instead of wondering if he can teach us anything.

Steven Goldman (5:45:48 PM PT): Steph: what's he wearing? My friend is particular.

Steven Goldman (5:47:28 PM PT): Also, can he cook?

Steph Bee (5:47:57 PM PT): Steve: White leather and red stitching, of course

Steven Goldman (5:51:51 PM PT): Andy (Madison): Worse opening day starting lineup; Royals, Astros, or Giants?

There's a certain amount of sadism evident in today's chat... Which is what makes Steph's last answer so appropriate.

Steph Bee (5:56:57 PM PT): Andy (Madison): Worse opening day starting lineup; Royals, Astros, or Giants?

Oof. Talk about punchless playing the punchless. I haven't run the numbers, but I'd probably put the worst in that order (with the Royals being the worst). Anemic offense...at least it looks like the Giants tried.

Sven Goldmanson (5:59:14 PM PT): I would take the Astros as worst, given the absence of Ingrid Bergman.

Colin Wyers (5:59:15 PM PT): Worst opening day lineup - well, I can tell what Excel and I will spend the next hour or so doing.

Steph Bee (6:00:12 PM PT): And with a name like Kung Fu Panda on their team, the name alone makes the Giants' lineup a wee bit better.

Colin Wyers (6:00:44 PM PT): And I'm pretty sure the outfit Steph mentioned is part of the Touch by Alyssa Milano collection.

Dan Wade (6:04:00 PM PT): Colin, which makes it all the more disturbing that it was mentioned in connection with Vicente Padilla.

Colin Wyers (6:05:00 PM PT): I have so far succeeded in not putting 2+2 together there. Sometimes it's a failure of imagination, and sometimes it's a failSAFE of imagination.

Christina Kahrl (6:06:03 PM PT): Too true, Colin, but the question is, who would wear it paying list price? Times like this make me wonder if the spouses of the MLB.com staff rue the existence of the annual merchandise sale.

Colin Wyers (6:09:17 PM PT): I got the MLB.com catalogue in the mail the other day. Some nice things in there - some I would even wear. (Not, I should add, from the Touch collection - I don't think they had my, ahem, physique in mind when designing it.) But they seem to have two kinds of markup - a bit high but not outlandish, and... well, outlandish.

Christina Kahrl (6:10:36 PM PT): So Sven, in the film TBNL, you're thinking Max von Sydow adds Ed Wade to a body of work that includes Jeebus and Ming the Merciless?

Steven Goldman (6:11:56 PM PT): Not to mention the bad guy in the "Black Hole" and (more credibly) the really overstimulated German counsel for the defense in "Judgment at Nuremberg."

Christina Kahrl (6:12:10 PM PT): MLB.com pricing clothing is... well, a matter of timing, I guess, and capitalizing on it. Or fulfilling other angles beyond seasonal fandom. "No, really honey, Wonder Woman was a Giants fan too."

Christina Kahrl (6:15:04 PM PT): Wrong Teuton, Mr. Goldman, that was Maximilian Schell, who would probably have done fine cast as somebody excitable when he was younger. Or shaving. Leo Durocher? ;-)

Steph Bee (6:15:12 PM PT): MLB.com pricing is crazy, and some of their types and styles of clothes are...ahem, slightly more so.

Dan Wade (6:17:22 PM PT): Did you guys see the St. Patrick's Day caps? They were...festive?

Christina Kahrl (6:21:43 PM PT): I'm an A's fan; green is for every day.

Steph Bee (6:22:09 PM PT): I think I'm rather happy I missed out on those styles...though they've more than made up for it with some of their other style hats.

Steven Goldman (6:23:10 PM PT): Dang. I've confused my Germans. That could be dangerous.

My disappointment with MLB.com apparel is that they're content to mostly bypass the Senators, Browns, etc.

Steven Goldman (6:30:31 PM PT): And Von Sydow was born in Sweden and Schell in Austria, so we're just way off base here. ...How does Samuel Gervacio just not fly apart on every pitch?

Dan Wade (6:39:06 PM PT): The Astros' consolation run has once again left Cleveland as the only team not to score in their opener. Bet the Indians are rooting for a shutout in one of the West Coast games.

Steph Bee (6:39:52 PM PT): The Astros are doing a nice job of stretching this game out so that we can segway nicely into the Twins/Angels Mariners/A's with uninterrupted baseball...though there is that one college basketball game going on...

Christina Kahrl (6:49:48 PM PT): What is this thing called "college basketball" of which you speak?

In point of fact, BasketballProspectus.com columnist Bradford Doolittle was sitting right in front of me at the Sox game today. I had to ask him who won the title, only to learn the thing's being played tonight. Which goes to show something.

Steph Bee (6:53:36 PM PT): After watching UCLA get crushed this season, I think I'm still attempting to recover. But I've heard whispers that there are two other teams out there still playing.

Only 15 minutes or so away from seeing Ben Sheets make his first mound appearance since the 08 season. This should be good.

Christina Kahrl (6:56:49 PM PT): As I noted in today's Sox game story, it's an interesting feature of today's Opening Day that so many people who missed 2009 were on the diamond today. You'd think the Federal League had just folded up or something...

Steph Bee (6:59:48 PM PT): tomhauck (New jersey): Westbrook? Does he bounce back better than this? His stuff looks OK, but his command is terrible. What comes back first for most Pitchers, stuff or command?

I'm certainly no injury expert, but I believe it is the velocity that comes back first, then the command. That said, I do think that Westbrook will improve as the season progresses.

Chr (7:01:40 PM PT): And in a few minutes, the Ben Sheets Moment begins...

Christina Kahrl (7:02:02 PM PT): Wait, I was going to say that.

Steph Bee (7:08:42 PM PT): And after a rainy morning in Southern California, the evening is nice and cool. Perfect for the Twins-Angels tilt.

Christina Kahrl (7:11:03 PM PT): Ben Sheets has retired his first opponent wearing the proud garb of the heffalumps.

Colin Wyers (7:14:55 PM PT): ...did my local cable provider preempt ESPN2 for ESPNEWS so we could watch Tiger's press conference? I am upset.

Steph Bee (7:15:01 PM PT): Nice inning for Jered Weaver, including a broken bat grounder. And perhaps a bit unhappily for Christina, the first inning is not quite so nice for Mr. Sheets.

Christina Kahrl (7:15:32 PM PT): And walked his first batter (Chone Figgins), and allowed his first run, on a Casey Kotchman double of all things. Not that such a thing is impossible, but it's Casey Kotchman.

Christina Kahrl (7:18:07 PM PT): Dan (Chicago): Christina, I am not an A's fan.... but green IS for every day. Speaking of which, how does MLB justify the discrepancies between testing for the major vs. the minor leagues? Is my man Jeremy Jeffress ever going to make it up where he can't be suspended?

He'd still be at risk for getting caught doing some things in the majors. What, you think this is the NBA or something?

Steph Bee (7:19:35 PM PT): Well, Milton Bradley is trying to help the cause. Carl Crawford, he is not.

Colin Wyers (7:22:34 PM PT): Oh, right, blackout. Can someone explain to me where the money is in keeping Twins games out of Iowa?

Christina Kahrl (7:23:38 PM PT): Lucy (Rochester): What are the chances Blanks comes close to matching Heyward's production this year and then the following 2 years?

I might be one of the few who thinks it's remotely possible, as long as we're just talking about what he does at the plate, and if you're making adjustments for the fact that Blanks will have to hit in Petco. But that's because I like Blanks a lot, not because I'm down on Heyward for reasons that would defy rational explanation.

Dan Wade (7:27:07 PM PT): Poor start for Baker, two walks and a wild pitch already in the first after giving up just three in 22 spring innings.

Steph Bee (7:27:23 PM PT): It is so odd to see Matsui wearing red...pops out in his first AB as an Angel.

Steph Bee (7:28:31 PM PT): Is this another one of those "proximity calls" by umpires? The player doesn't have to have the ball touch you, but as long as it was in your general vicinity...?

Christina Kahrl (7:37:09 PM PT): A Rob Johnson homer? Ah, the fun and the indignities of any day at the ballpark. I had to witness Randy Knorr's best game ever, so I've had worse as fan experiences go.

Steph Bee (7:39:39 PM PT): I'm either blind or I just noticed the new Twinkie uniforms. They do look rather snazzy.

Christina Kahrl (7:44:15 PM PT): Bacon and mushrooms are grilled up for tonight's buffalo burgers (hey, it may not be dogs at the ballpark, but it'll do), so I have to go lay out a late dinner here on the home front.

Steph Bee (7:45:53 PM PT): For all those Delmon Young believers, he just went yard for the Twins. Two-run drive into the home bullpen. So is this the year he fulfills the promise?

Dan Wade (7:47:00 PM PT): Well, Delmon Young begins the process of proving that Kevin Goldstein's trust in him was well placed.

Steph Bee (7:49:13 PM PT): Ichiro gets greedy and tried to steal third after swiping second. Very nice throw by Kurt Suzuki to nail him.

Steph Bee (7:49:56 PM PT): Now if only Lastings Milledge could do the same for all of his believers...hey, you never know.

Colin Wyers (7:53:24 PM PT): Willie Bloomquist, class act.

Steph Bee (7:54:55 PM PT): Considering that he is coming off of shoulder surgery and hasn't pitched against major-league hitters in a year, I'd say that Sheets is pitching better than I thought he would. The Mariners are certainly taking advantage of their speed factor against him, though.

Steph Bee (7:56:37 PM PT): Um...blame it on Betancourt? Unless we're still coming down from that homer he hit today...

Steph Bee (8:20:50 PM PT): Anybody out there? Sheets is showing better command than he did in the early going, but King Felix has him beat with some pristine pitches, the Angels and Twins are holding steady at 3-2, and there's about 3:20 in that other game.

Colin Wyers (8:22:38 PM PT): Just got the kid to bed, so I guess I'm out there now.

Colin Wyers (8:23:49 PM PT): ...that probably came out wrong.

Steph Bee (8:24:12 PM PT): A task more difficult than catching the Royals on a good day. Congrats!

Colin Wyers (8:25:33 PM PT): Eh, it turns out the kid goes to bed every night. So do the Royals, I suppose.

Colin Wyers (8:26:56 PM PT): "Scoresheetwiz (Connecticut Detroiter in Toronto): Can we start a class action suit against Capitol One for their annoying pop-up software busting pop-ups?"

I'm guessing the answer is no. You seeing those here or somewhere else?

Steph Bee (8:27:21 PM PT): But the Royals' bats do so more quietly. The bullpen, on the other hand, has some fireworks. Paging Kyle Farnsworth...

Okay, okay, I won't dig on the Royals anymore.

Colin Wyers (8:28:30 PM PT): "PhillyFriar (Boston): Not sure if there are any fans of 24 among the BP writers, but as I watch the show as it comes to the series conclusion, I think I've finally figured it out: Dayton Moore moonlights as the director of CTU."

You think someone is trying to sabotage them from inside? Makes some kind of sense, I guess.

Colin Wyers (8:33:04 PM PT): For those who haven't seen it yet, the Buehrle play.

Steph Bee (8:37:40 PM PT): A little birdie told me the butler didn't do it. Or something like that.

Now can the sports world concentrate on baseball?

Ken Funck (8:40:50 PM PT): Twins tie it on a Delmon Young single and SB, JJ Hardy groundout and Nick Punto Sac Fly. Announcers proclaim yet another example of Twins "doing the little things" and "playing winning baseball." Who had 10:32 p.m. CDT in the "First Sighting Of The AL Central's Most Overly Sentimental And Inaccurate Cliche" pool?

Steph Bee (8:42:17 PM PT): Who let Chip Caray back in the broadcast booth?

Colin Wyers (8:43:43 PM PT): I don't know that anyone ever got Chip out of the booth.

Colin Wyers (8:45:58 PM PT): It actually amazes me how many announcers the people I talk about baseball with absolutely loathe. I wonder if it's us or them who's missing the point, really.

Steph Bee (8:46:08 PM PT): Should we go back to the Metrodome to see...? The Vikings don't start up for a while.

Ken Funck (8:46:18 PM PT): Once your booth gets a Chip in it, it's value goes down substantially.

Colin Wyers (8:49:03 PM PT): Or maybe what we need is value over replacement announcer. First step - define replacement level.

Steven Goldman (8:50:13 PM PT): I would have to say that Joe Morgan is above replacement level. We had Joe Angel doing radio work here for a couple of years.

Steph Bee (8:51:34 PM PT): Matsui breaks the tie with a single to make a single to make it 4-3 Angels.

As for Caray... "Line drive! Base hit! Caught out there!" ...and you know the story.

Colin Wyers (8:54:31 PM PT): I'm going with Dan Plesac as replacement level. Just a hunch. I need to work on this a bit more.

Dan Wade (8:54:33 PM PT): Oakland breaks their duck, leaving Cleveland as the only team not to score in their opener.

Steph Bee (8:57:01 PM PT): You have to admit that VORA does have a nice ring to it.

Steven Goldman (8:57:43 PM PT): Joe Angel was not like watching paint dry... He was like listening to paint scream.

Colin Wyers (8:59:08 PM PT): I think the worst announcing I've heard was Farmer and Stone doing the White Sox on radio. You cannot pause for dramatic effect doing radio play-by-play, guys.

Steven Goldman (9:01:15 PM PT): I used to quite like the late Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn on Phillies TV broadcasts, where they were dryly humorous. But they would rotate over to the radio side and just... not talk. You would hear about two minutes of crowd noise, then a faint "pop" sound and Kalas would say "Ball," then go back to maintaining radio silence.

Steph Bee (9:03:29 PM PT): I'm still waiting for the glorious day when they make a channel with just natural game sounds, uninterrupted by broadcasters. I get lucky living in the Scully market, but that ship will be docking at the end of the season, so it is about to get a lot worse.

Ken Funck (9:04:43 PM PT): All personal taste, of course, but I rather enjoyed Farmer and Stone. Farmio's frequently indifferent, monotone call grew on me (like a fungus maybe).

Colin Wyers (9:05:37 PM PT): "noahbraun (San Diego): not a great start for my Pad's, but with good pitching and a new offensive strategy, what are the chances of them being around .500 at the end of the year?"

Just eyeballing this, but... maybe about 20%? I'm quite prepared to be wrong about this, though.

Colin Wyers (9:06:20 PM PT): "Scoresheetwiz (Toronto): Those Capitol One adds were popping up in Rotoworld - perhaps, in other places, too, but BP has been very clean, thank you. I can't seem to wean myself off of Rotoworld for their well selected and sourced up-to-the-minute news items. Any suggestions?"

I've heard good things about Rotowire.

Colin Wyers (9:08:26 PM PT): "Mary (Chicago): Hawk Harrelson definitely has a negative VORA. He's by far the worst announcer. As a Cubs fan, though, I don't like Ed Farmer much either."

For a while I really thought that I disliked Hawk because I was a Cubs fan. Then I started trying to watch random Sox games on CSN and... I couldn't.

Dan Wade (9:14:28 PM PT): Really glad someone brought up Hawk, who may be the Neifi Perez of announcers in terms of VORA. As a Twins fan, I appreciate his willingness to compliment both the Sox and their opponents, but I simply cannot watch games he calls.

Colin Wyers (9:14:39 PM PT): "Jake Green (LA): In 2015, who will be the best pitcher of the three? Tim Lincecum, Stephen Strasburg, or Aroldis Chapman"

I really don't know how to answer these kinds of questions, to be honest. The analytical part of my brain kicks in and says that the margin of error on this sort of thing vastly swamps the difference between them in talent.

So if you're sending in these questions and I'm not picking them, please don't feel slighted. I just honestly don't have a good answer for you, and don't feel like giving you a bad answer just to say I did.

Ken Funck (9:14:47 PM PT): "Jake Green (LA): In 2015, who will be the best pitcher of the three? Tim Lincecum, Stephen Strasburg, or Aroldis Chapman?"

Good question. Today I'll go with Tiny Tim, since he's the proven quantity and I'm notoriously risk averse. Ask again in September, though, and you might well get a different answer.

Dan Wade (9:16:01 PM PT): Really glad someone brought up Hawk, who may be the Neifi Perez of announcers in terms of VORA. As a Twins fan, I appreciate his willingness to compliment both the Sox and their opponents, but I simply cannot watch games he calls.

Colin Wyers (9:16:01 PM PT): ...and Ken and I demonstrate remarkably different responses there. Hehe.

Steph Bee (9:16:51 PM PT): Matt Ryan (San Diego): More likely to happen next year: Stephen Strasburg winning the Cy Young, or the Padres winning the west?

Strasburg. Granted, he has to compete with the likes of Halladay, Lincecum, Haren, Oswalt, Santana, Wainwright, Carpenter...(you get the picture), but the Padres don't have the immediate firepower to overtake a team like the Rockies, especially if they deal their greatest offensive weapon, Adrian Gonzalez.

Steven Goldman (9:18:06 PM PT): Funny thing about Hawk. I can't stand his shtick either, but I heard an interview with him on XM last year, and he was completely the opposite, seemed very knowledgeable and reasonable. I was shocked. In fact, I piled my car into a tree. I can only gather that his on-air persona is something he thinks is commercial.

Colin Wyers (9:18:39 PM PT): "Vicente Padilla (Where ever I live): how much do I suck on a scale of 1 to Jose Lima?"

Everything is a matter of context, really. He's not a BAD pitcher, really sort of an averagish pitcher. But that gets obscured when you start comparing him to the typical opening-day starter, which is usually a well above average pitcher (even most bad teams are able to scrape together at least ONE pitcher better than Padilla).

Steven Goldman (9:19:26 PM PT): bobbob1313 (Miami): That came out a little more bitter than I expected. I apologize for being the angry, scorned small market fan. It's not your guys' fault.

Go Yankees?

Steph Bee (9:19:53 PM PT): Oakland knots the game at three and the umps botch their second call of the day through an outfielder either trapping or blocking the ball. Just adding some more salt to the fire, I'm sure.

Dan Wade (9:21:31 PM PT): Orlando Hudson just took one off the kneecap and went down in a heap. Not a good sign for the Twins, but it looks like he'll stay in the game.

Colin Wyers (9:22:03 PM PT): "bobbob1313 (Miami): For any of the prospect guys left chatting, how does Heyward's raw power compare to Mike Stanton's? Also, do we get wall to wall MLB Network coverage for Stanton's eventual major league debut, or was that a one time thing for Heyward?"

Stanton may in fact have more power than Heyward. But you really wish Stanton could take a walk now and again.

Ken Funck (9:25:08 PM PT): Not sure why, but I have a feeling O-Dog could become a short-term folk hero in Minneapolis. And not just because he'll keep Alexi Casilla off the field.

Colin Wyers (9:28:44 PM PT): If the Twins make the playoffs, that's probably even more likely.

Steph Bee (9:34:10 PM PT): bobbob1313 (Miami): With all of the ragging on the Vicente Padilla's of the world going on here, I've got to ask: Off the top of your heads, who is the worst opening day starter you can think of in recent memory? Is there a better (worse?) choice for this than Mark Hendrickson?

Hendrickson is certainly a good choice (no pun intended), but I distinctly remember one Carl Pavano, post-buttocks injury, taking the ball on Opening Day a couple years back.

Colin Wyers (9:34:41 PM PT): "bobbob1313 (Miami): With all of the ragging on the Vicente Padilla's of the world going on here, I've got to ask: Off the top of your heads, who is the worst opening day starter you can think of in recent memory? Is there a better (worse?) choice for this than Mark Hendrickson?"

I don't even know if Padilla was the worst opening day starter this year. I think Westbrook may hold the honors there. Or maybe Frank Francisco.

Steven Goldman (9:34:57 PM PT): Is Kevin Kouzmanoff actually as slow as he just seemed on the GDP he just hit into? The throw beat him to first by about an eon.

Colin Wyers (9:35:32 PM PT): ...mabye I should be in bed. Francisco is, of course, not a starter.

Steven Goldman (9:38:45 PM PT): He is, however, a city in California.

Steph Bee (9:44:08 PM PT): noahbraun (San Diego): Can anyone make an arguement against Adrian Gonzalez being the leagues most valuable player? most valuable to his team. without Gonzalez the Padres would be in 6th place (hint to joke. only 5 teams in west)

First person to came to mind when I read this was Ryan Zimmerman. You could make an argument, I suppose, about Adam Dunn being the second bopper, but Zimmerman is a much more complete player.

Dan Wade (9:46:28 PM PT): Fernando Rodney makes his Angels debut with six straight balls before finally getting a strike on Jason Kubel.

Ken Funck (9:47:51 PM PT): "kk (kc): Free Kila Ka'aihue"

Is that an offer -- can I have a free Kila Ka'aihue?

A lot of teams could use a free Ka'aihue, the Royals most definitely included. I'd scratch my head and say I don't understand why he's playing in Omaha, but unfortunately we all understand why.

Steph Bee (9:50:04 PM PT): Milton Bradley still has a little snap in the bat. < / awfulpun >

Dan Wade (9:54:44 PM PT): Hideki Matsui and Kendry Morales go back-to-back off of Jose Mijares. Probably not what the Twins were hoping their lefty specialist would do in that situation.

Steph Bee (9:55:12 PM PT): Mariners top the A's, so that just leaves the Angels and Twins.

Ken Funck (9:57:33 PM PT): "Matt Ryan (San Diego): Me again. I don't believe that the Pad's will trade Gonzo this year or any year. With no more Hoffy or Peavy, he is our man. If they do trade him, I'm canceling my season tickets."

Even if they get a haul in return? It would be wilful negligence if they turn down an overwhelming offer that will make the team better in the long run.

Steph Bee (10:01:54 PM PT): Well Dan, if that's the way their bullpen goes, perhaps the Twins won't have to worry about finding a replacement closer. ;)

Dan Wade (10:02:54 PM PT): Pat Neshek makes his first appearance since May 8, 2008. Gives up a hit, but it comes to naught.

Dan Wade (10:03:52 PM PT): Steph, I wouldn't be pointing fingers about bullpen trouble at this stage...

Steph Bee (10:07:16 PM PT): This is true. I still don't like the Park signing, but I do think a combo of Robertson/Joba/maybe Marte -----> Mo is much more solid. I only wish I could pluck Melancon out of the minors right about now...

Steph Bee (10:08:25 PM PT): Dost thine eyes deceive me, or was that No. 53...Bobby Abreu...running into a wall?!

Steph Bee (10:11:42 PM PT): Angels win, so that's the last game of the night. Awfully sad to say goodbye to a day like Opening Day.

Dan Wade (10:17:44 PM PT): Well, it was quite a day. Mark Buehrle made the defensive play of the year on the first day of the season, Jason Heyward began the road to stardom at Carlos Zambrano's expense, and we decided that Vicente Padilla dressed in a white leather anything probably qualified as something better left unimagined. Thanks for joining us!


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