Opening Day Notes
At the risk of being apprehended by the small sample size police, here are some facts, observations, and questions about the greatest day of the season (unless, of course, you are a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays or Minnesota Twins)...
...the Sunday night game counts, too, because it didn't end until Monday morning. It did end, right?
If C.C. Sabathia (NYSE: CC) were a stock, how much would it have plummeted in the third inning when he walked off the mound with a strained abdominal muscle?
Didn't Joe Morgan all but guarantee that Sabathia would win 20 games this year?
Was there anybody rooting harder for the rain to continue Sunday evening than Fernando Cabrera? I ran into him at Bally Total Fitness yesterday. The Cleveland relief pitcher was apparently trying to work down his 54.00 ERA. Hey, if he holds opponents scoreless for the next 17 innings, he can cut his ERA to 3.00.
Upon further thought, maybe I should invest in Bally's. I hear Barry Zito (47.25), Jon Lieber (21.60), Scott Kazmir (13.50), Derek Lowe (12.60), Tim Hudson (11.25), and Aaron Harang (10.80) are all desperate to join. In the Fernando Cabrera category of relievers, Blaine Boyer's 81.01 looks more like an average golf score than an ERA.
In total, there were 156 runs scored--or an average of 11.2 per game--in the first 14 contests. Last year, the average number of runs per game for the season was 9.2. Just wait 'til we run those #4 and #5 starters out there. Man, King Felix is already feeling the pressure.
Kudos to Roy Oswalt (8-5-0-0-1) for pitching the best game of anyone. He is the only pitcher who has won 20 games in each of the past two seasons. However, before we hand him the Cy Young award, let's see how he does vs. a major-league team.
Are Brandon McCarthy (3-0-0-0-0-2 and a "W") and Jon Papelpon (1-0-0-0-0-1) auditioning for starting assignments? Throw Francisco Liriano into the mix and, like basketball, we might have to come up with a Best Sixth Man award.
The attendance at the Astros home opener might have been my favorite stat of 'em all: 43,666 (106.6% full). The Rangers didn't fare too badly either: 51,541 (104.9% full). Must be something about Texas. The Dodgers didn't do as well at the turnstile in their opener. Attendance: 56,000 (100% full).
Who says Dodger Stadium is a pitcher's park? An 11-10 score with 29 hits. I wonder what its park factor is now?
All right, the stat I really liked was this one...
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: B Webb 15-2
Did I mention that this game was played at Coors Field?
Did Francisco Rodriguez's performance prove, once and for all, the silliness of the "save" as a meaningful stat? The guy comes in with a two-run lead, gives up a home run to Roberto Petagine, records three outs, and gets "credited" with a save? Where do I sign up?
...Oh, and if we are going to make changes in the way we keep score, how 'bout getting rid of the notion of a "sacrifice" fly? At best, it should be a scorer's decision, similar to a sacrifice bunt. But isn't giving a player an RBI enough? I mean, how different is a F9 vs. a 4-3, especially when the infield is playing back?
I couldn't give a better example of how ridiculous a SF is than pointing to what Jason Kendall was credited with last night. He hit a sacrifice fly in the NINTH inning of a 15-1 game. Now there's a selfless player!
Was there a basketball game last night?
Did anybody else notice that Curt Schilling threw 117 pitches? Or that Carlos Zambrano tossed 105 and couldn't even make it out of the fifth inning?
Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 and struck out three times. He hit a ton (5 HR plus 14 BB and 7 SB) in the Grapefruit League. Just goes to show how much more difficult it is to hit in a big-league game than it is in spring training. Oh wait, the Tigers center fielder was facing the Kansas City Royals. Scratch that thought.
While on the subject of tough openers, how about Prince Fielder's debut? He was 4-for-4...in K's, that is. Granted, the rookie faced a tough left-hander in Oliver Perez, but Cecil's son is going to have to make better contact if he wants to avoid being platooned.
Jason Bay walked three times. With Joe Randa hitting behind him, I wonder how many good pitches Bay will get this year? Don't be surprised if the Pirate slugger racks up about 120 free passes and an OBP well over .400.
Chris Shelton went deep twice. I can just see fantasy league managers scrambling to get him into their lineups, like yesterday.
Jonny (or is it Jhonny?) Gomes, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Adam LaRoche, Matt Murton, Mike Piazza, and Frank Thomas all went yard their first time up. Is there a better feeling for a ballplayer?
I gotta wonder though if Piazza's home run isn't going to raise the expectations of Padres fans and perhaps set him up for a fall later in the year? I would be surprised if the future first-ballot Hall of Famer hits more than 20 HR this year. Poor Mike, the guy can sure pick his ballparks, huh? Let's see...Dodger Stadium, Joe Robbie Stadium, Shea Stadium, and now Petco--four of the most difficult hitter parks around.
Jim Thome's homer was a feel good story for everyone who lives outside Cleveland. Well, now that I think about it for a moment, maybe there are some Thome fans from his days with the Indians. He and The Big Hurt are likely to battle for the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. Over in the NL, Scott Rolen (remember him?) got off to a nice start with three hits, including a grand slam. Rolen and a guy named Barry Bonds are the favorites for such honors in the NL.
Looking for another warm and fuzzy? Kenji Johjima hitting a HR in his first game certainly qualifies. I don't know if the veteran should be eligible for AL Rookie of the Year or not but, as long as he is, there is no use in betting against him.
Are the reigning MVPs any good? Albert Pujols went yard twice and Alex Rodriguez slugged a grand salami. They did a few other things, too. Hmmm, did I really draw #1 in my fantasy pool and elect to slide back to #8?
Is there a better feeling than seeing a bunch of crooked numbers in the boxscore of one of your fantasy team players? Yes, seeing them for two or more players, right? Let's face it, Albert's 2-3-2-4 line screams two HR and two BB for those of us who know how to "read" what otherwise looks like nothing more than a street address.
Xavier Nady went 4-for-4 with two doubles. I bet Padres management is hoping he doesn't pull a Jason Bay, circa 2004, on them.
Hideki Matsui had a pretty good line, too. He went a perfect 4-for-4 and added a couple of runs, four RBI, and two walks for good measure.
Tom Glavine (6-6-1-1-3-5, 1-0) began 2006 in the same manner he finished 2005. Few people realize that the two-time Cy Young Award winner had the third-lowest ERA in the majors in the second half last year. He is pitching inside and throwing his curve more than ever.
Is David Wright still an emerging growth stock or has he already graduated to a blue chip? If this is his so-called breakout year, what do you call 2005 when the then-22-year-old hit .306/.388/.523 with 42 2B, 27 HR, 72 BB, 17 SB, 99 R and 102 RBI?
Is Ryan Howard hot or what?
I'm happy for Jimmy Rollins but...
Cardinals fans might want to take a photo of the following line:
Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
A Miles 2B 5 2 4 2 0 0 1 .800
For proponents of Pythagorean won-loss records, are the Yankees really 3-0 now? By the same token, I guess that makes the A's 0-3.
My turn's up. What did you notice?