2007 opened for every team in Major League Baseball between Sunday and Tuesday and there were plenty of storylines and subplots that accompanied the first days of what promises to be a fun season. I will bullet through some of the first impressions I came away with after reviewing much of the action.
Two old fogies I had penciled in for mediocre seasons came out of the gate hot on Sunday night. Tom Glavine was excellent over six innings while Carlos Delgado notched a double and a couple of RBI's as the Mets strolled to an easy win in St. Louis.
Like many other pitchers, Gil Meche is fantastic when he can spot his fastball. Meche has the ability to pump the zone with strike after strike, and is often effective when he does so. He also has the ability to get rocked when he misses in the strikezone. Well he was on Monday, starting 13 of 19 Red Sox batters off with strikes between the second and seventh innings after suffering through a rocky start in the first.
You never wish ill on anybody but if you are a Nats fan and Cristian Guzman and Nook Logan go down in the first game of the season, well, you really can't hope for a much better result than that, can you? Is a loss really a loss when you emerge having substituted sub-replacement level talent with guys that might be able to play a little?
Two guys roundly panned in pre-season work in this space made good in losing causes yesterday. Both Darin Erstad and Luke (the fluke) Scott homered.
If Casey Kotchman hits this season, this Angels team gets really interesting really quickly.
Tough start for the Cubbies but man, how about Adam Dunn? I DVR'd the game and to my great pleasure I caught the quote of the day from Steve Phillips, who was calling the game for ESPN. After Dunn's second home run in as many 2007 at bats, one that bounced off the center field scoreboard facade at Great American Ballpark, Phillips remarked "this is why the Reds need Dunn to make more contact."
Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and a shutdown performance by the bullpen. Sound like a familiar winning formula, Twins fans?
One power pitcher on the cusp of greatness and another who looks like he might be fading took the hill for their respective teams' openers. Felix Hernandez dazzled, striking out 12 in eight innings while Jose Contreras scuffled much like he did over the second half of 2006 when he posted a 5.40 ERA. On Monday he only lasted an inning against the Cleveland Indians, giving up 7 earned runs in the process. Conteras's ERA? 63.00.
As there always are on Opening Day, there were some heavyweight pitching matchups on the card. Some lived up and some didn't. Brett Myers and John Smoltz were both very good. Aaron Harang and Carlos Zambrano looked great on paper but only Harang lived up to his billing. Same with the Padres-Giants opener. Barry Zito struggled but Jake Peavy was magnificent.
Speaking of Peavy, missing bats and not issuing free passes, as it usually is, was a formula for success yesterday for Jake. Thing is, he did the same thing last year. He led the NL with 9.56 K/9 and had an impressive 3.47 K/BB ratio to boot and all it got him was a 4.09 ERA and an 11-14 record. Just one of those things I guess. Expect more outings like yesterday from Peavy in 2007.
The impressiveness of the Yanks' offense lies not necessarily in its raw power or explosiveness but rather in its ability to avoid making outs, extend innings and ultimately put runs up. At no point during Monday's game did the Bombers offense seem dominant, but a few walks and hits here and there, homers by Jorge Posada and A-Rod and all of a sudden at the end of the game they had nine runs. Expect many more games like that from New York this season.
As of this morning, here's your MLB top 10 in OPS:
Tony Pena Jr. 2.750
Adam Dunn 2.600
Brian McCann 2.500
Paul Konerko 2.417
Miguel Cabrera 2.247
Vladimir Guerrero 2.063
Edgar Renteria 2.000
John Buck 2.000
Casey Kotchman 1.950
Grady Sizemore 1.850
It's been a good couple of days to be a shortstop formerly in the Red Sox organization. Edgar Renteria hit a couple of bombs on opening day and I swear, one of these days Hanley Ramirez is going to come back to earth. Right? Isn't he?
Man, Miguel Cabrera is absolutely awesome.
That's what has jumped out at me thus far. What do you guys got?