I just got spam from “Mickey Brantley”.
Yay for Opening Day, even if the game itself sucked. My quick thoughts:
1. If Dave Hansen getting a hit means having to hear Hansen’s “Mmm… Bop” at Safeco, I’ll go ahead and say that we’re all better off if he doesn’t appear in a single game the rest of the season.
2. Jamie Moyer: 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 HR… and a nice ovation from the home crowd. If Freddy Garcia had come out of the game with that sort of line, he would have been booed off the mound.
3. We’ve now seen what Kevin Jarvis can do, and it ain’t pretty.
4. Was there any question that the grounds crew would dance on Opening Day? Of course not. And, of course, the fans (well, except this one) loved it.
5. What is it with you people and booing? Rich Aurilia has been here for one day, has a little bit of a tough time defensively, and you’re booing him before his first Seattle at-bat. Get over it. I was really happy to see him come through with that two-run double in the 8th, because he sure needed to do something positive.
New Big Board, complete with those shiny new minor league rosters, to follow.
I left at 1-1. The final was 10-5. Remind me to thank responsibility for keeping me away from the rest of the game.
A few wrapup notes:
1. No, I’m not worried about Moyer. At least, not anymore than I was a week ago.
2. Spiezio doesn’t have a herniated disc, which is good news. He should be back by May. I wasn’t a fan of his signing, but the team needs him.
3. The official target date for Kevin Jarvis’ release has been set at April 27th. He’s on the Giovanni Carrara track, where he gets to suck for a month before the M’s finally bite the bullet and pick any random Triple-A pitcher with more talent to take his roster spot.
4. The Rainiers roster is up. Randy Williams, Scott Atchison, and Craig Anderson are really the only three non-prospects on the whole staff. Blackley, Nageotte, Johnson, and Baek are as good a minor league rotation as you’ll see, and there’s nothing wrong with Putz, Madritsch, Sherrill, and Heaverlo coming out of the pen. Take some trips to Cheney this year. It will be well worth it.
5. Aquasox broadcaster and all around good guy Pat Dillon called me to fill me in on the origin of Punch and Judy. It was a British puppet show that gained popularity as a baseball phrase through the repeated usage by one Vin Scully, though why it became synonymous with slap-happy offenses is anyone’s guess.
6. Someone sent us an email to let us know that though we’ve notified people about the great deal through MSN Premium, we’ve not stressed the fact that the first three months are free enough. There is no commitment, no contract, no requirements. There is no reason to not sign up for this. You get three months of live streaming video of nearly every game, every day, as well as free gameday audio of every game, customizable highlite packages, and the 20 minute condensed games. This will be the last time we throw more free publicity towards Microsoft, but really, there’s not a reason to not do this. Its a gift. Take advantage.
Its opening day, and I’m watching from my computer, so I might as well keep a running diary, right? Please note, however, then I will not be lighting myself on fire. Onward ho:
5:03 P.M. Edt
I guess MLB.tv is giving us the feed via the Angels crew. I think they just showed all of Darin Erstad’s 2003 hits in the opening highlight package. I’m still fired up to be watching this game, though. If you haven’t read our tip on how to get MLB All Access for $30, do so now. It is unbelievably worth it.
Could we please get a few more shots of Vladimir Guerrero sitting on the bench. I haven’t seen one in about 12 seconds. Thanks a bunch.
Watching Bob Melvin point out the ground rules to the umps, I get the distinct impression that he’s absolutely terrible at giving directions. He strikes me as one of those “Drive until you get to the big tree” kind of guys.
Erstad with a drive to center, and my first thought is “Eckstein can tag on that”. Eckstein is on first base. He probably could have. Have you ever seen Randy Winn throw? I think he may be better off rolling the ball back to the infield.
Howard Lincoln is preparing a statement blaming Garrett Anderson’s propensities for foul balls for the lack of a trade deadline acquisition.
Maybe its because I’m watching on a small window of my computer, but Bret Boone looks like he’s lost a bunch of weight. And no, I’m not implying anything. And hey, nice swing Raul. Always easy to hit that pitch at your ankles on a 2-0 count. Good thinking.
The M’s have apparently been practicing their bloop singles to left. This offensive outburst brought to you by the Punch and Judy corporation. Anyone have any idea where that phrase came from, by the way?
Across the bottom of the screen, MLB.tv’s window has an “Alert:” scrolling with scores and updates. Apparently, the man running it is a Red Sox fan, as he felt the need to Alert me to the fact that Mike Timlin was coming into the game. Sadly, I can sympathize with his pain.
I love Edgar, but what was wrong with that pitch? 3-2 fastball down the middle, usually a good idea to swing. On a happier note, I just got offered a free home cooked meal tomorrow night.
We’ve now switched over to the Mariners feed for the top of the second. Bizarre. And, after back-to-back changeups make Jose Guillen and Tim Salmon look like high school hitters, I believe we can safely say that Jamie Moyer still knows how to pitch. Well, Jose Molina disagrees. That was a meat pitch right there.
Kennedy sends one of the wall in right, Ichiro with a great throw, if slightly offline, has him dead to rights. Ball bounces off Aurilia’s wrist as he tries to make the tag. A tough play, but one he probably should have made.
Dan Wilson coming to bat. This should be fun. A guy with below average batspeed against 97 MPH fastballs. Just shift everyone to the right side of second base.
In what will likely be his most productive at-bat for the next month, Wilson taps back to the mound. Colon then proceeds to throw the ball to no one in particular, and everybody is safe.
Bloomquist continues to make Melvin’s Bloop Single drill look like an act of genius, as his looping fly falls in between the horrid Anaheim outfield defenders. Vlad shows off his ridiculously inaccurate arm, Olerud scores. Tied at one. Apparently, the more patient Ichiro stayed in extended spring training, as the one we know and kinda love swings at a 3-2 pitch that might have taken out a gopher on its way towards his toes. Ground out to first, no one scores. I don’t care if you can hit it, take the freaking walk.
Winn strikes out, leaving two men in scoring position. Not to get into announcer cliche`, but with a team built like the Mariners, they need to take advantage of opportunities like that. If the M’s lose tonight, you can bet that the failure to drive in a runner from 3rd with one out will be brought up tomorrow.
Responsibility calls, so thats it for me today. Why does responsibility always know when I’m watching baseball? Why doesn’t caller ID pop up and say “Don’t answer this call!”. Until someone invents the call content screener, we’ll keep answering, and we’ll keep walking away from opening day baseball. Oh well. It’s been fun. Go M’s.
Game One Preview
In a battle of opposites, Jamie Moyer takes his 84 MPH fastball to the mound against Bartolo Colon’s girth and velocity. No matter how you slice it, however, Moyer has been the better pitcher the past few years, with Colon consistently failing to live up to the lofty expectations thrown his way. In this battle of the overachiever and the underachiever, I’ll take Moyer.
You know what you’re getting with Colon; high fastballs and lots of them. He has no problems challenging hitters, and attempting to work the count will likely get you in an 0-2 hole very quickly. If his command is off, don’t help him, but you can’t afford to lay off hittable pitches trying to earn a walk. Not surprisingly, the two M’s who have hit the best against Colon are Ichiro (7-18, 2 homers, 0 walks in 18 at-bats) and Edgar (.375/.512/.625 in 32 AB’s). Bret Boone’s willingness to chase the high strike has caused him to struggle (3-17, 1 walk), and Olerud’s overpatience has not proven effective either (3-21, 2 walks).
Moyer is the master of change-ups and has shut down most of the Angels line-up for his career, but Garrett Anderson (.371/.389/.700 in 70 AB’s) has had few problems with the soft stuff. Tim Salmon (.215/.300/.380 in 79 AB’s) and Darin Erstad (.200/.298/.260 in 50 AB’s) have not yet figured out how to hit Moyer.
Bengie Molina’s hamstrings are tired of carrying around the rest of his rotund physique, and he will be replaced by brother Jose as the Angels starting catcher.
Jose Guillen’s left wrist is sore, but he should start regardless. He is one tough cookie, as he proved by playing through a broken hamate bone last year.
Scott Spiezio’s back is going to be a problem, and he won’t play for several weeks, most likely. Willie Bloomquist gets the start at third base, and strikes fear in our hearts that a multi-hit performance on Opening Day will win back the fans who used to once think he had talent.
Bob Melvin is unveiling his new look line-up with offensive sinkhole Raul Ibanez hitting between all-stars Bret Boone (3rd) and Edgar Martinez (5th). In addition to scuffling rallies, this also provides the M’s the unique ability to have duel icebergs Martinez and Olerud hitting back to back, thereby maximizing the amount of double plays we should see. We’ve beaten line-ups to death in the blogosphere over the offseason, but most people agree with the basic tenets; put high on base percentage guys in front of sluggers, and get your best hitters as many at-bats as possible. The current permutation fails on all counts.
First pitch is a little over four hours away, and regardless of the fact that we’re generally construed as overly negative stick-in-the-muds, I’m fired up for the 2004 baseball season, and will be rooting like mad for the Mariners. While I’ve gone on record as predicting an 86 win, 3rd place finish for this current roster, everyone realizes how much things can change from opening day, and unforeseen outcomes occur all the time. So, without further ado, here is my top ten list of things that could sway the division in any direction, with the lone exception of Texas winning the division.
Dave’s List Of Really Important Things That Could Affect The Outcome Of The Division
1. One of Oakland’s Big Three could fail to throw 200 innings. I’m completely unimpressed with Mark Redman and Rich Harden as anything more than end-of-rotation starters, and if Hudson, Mulder, or Zito come up lame, the A’s suddenly look weak. Their offense is okay, but not good, and the bullpen is solid (side note: Arthur Rhodes will have more saves and a lower ERA than Eddie Guardado this year, and everyone who thinks Arthur can’t handle pressure is insane), but this team lives and dies with their rotation. They need 600+ innings from the Big Three, and if they don’t get it, they won’t win the West.
2. Anaheim is infused with a storm of young talent not seen at one time in a generation. While we discuss the weaknesses of their offense and their need for another pitcher, they have three legitimate impact prospects scheduled to start the year in the upper levels of the minor leagues, poised to make a Miguel Cabrera-like impact on the second half of the year. No other team in the division has Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis, Ervin Santana, and, to a lesser degree, Alberto Callaspo knocking on the door. The Angels young talent gives them the lead in scary-good potential. In my mind, this is the only team in the division that could win 100 games. It probably won’t happen, but…
3. Rafael Soriano gets inserted into the starting rotation before the end of April, starts 30 games, and is the Mariners best pitcher by the summer. Replacing a very-likely-to-suck Ryan Franklin with a dominating Soriano in the rotation could mean as many as five wins in the standings, and drastically change the outlook of the club. If Franklin experiences the disaster of a season I’m expecting, and Soriano continues to pitch like he’s trying to lock up a hall of fame birth by age 25, then this is a real possibility.
4. The legs of Edgar Martinez finally give out, causing him to spend at least half the season on the shelf. This would absolutely cripple the M’s, as they have no one in the organization capable of resembling even a competent DH, and the front office has shown no ability to evaluate offensive ability. The M’s simply cannot afford to lose Edgar’s bat for any length of time, because the dropoff between Edgar and his replacement is vast enough to consume the western world.
5. The Angels outfield defense is so godawful that their pitching staff turns into a disaster zone. Jose Guillen and Vladimir Guerrero have great arms, and Garrett Anderson has more range than most corner outfielders, but there isn’t a center fielder in the bunch, and fly balls will find large alleys of uncovered space. Depending on how bad it gets, we could see Darin Erstad back in center field by June.
6. Billy Beane makes another ridiculously lopsided trade, robbing someone blind and replacing the giant sucking hole they currently call second base. Jon Adkins for Ray Durham, anyone? Never underestimate Beane’s ability to steal talent away from unsuspecting GM’s.
7. The talk of Ichiro becoming more patient isn’t really talk, and he becomes a Rickey Henderson-style tornado at the top of the order. Ichiro with a .400+ OBP and his ridiculous stolen base rates from the 2001 season would instantly become one of the most valuable players in the American League, and be a huge boost to an offense that desperately needs one.
8. Bobby Crosby falls flat on his face, becoming just the next in the long line of hyped shortstops who struggles through a rough rookie season. His translated numbers from last year aren’t that spectacular, and those expecting a .280/.360/.450 line from him are going to be disappointed. If he goes through an Alex Gonzalez (either one, really) type development, the A’s are going to have a terrible time finding a way to replace the offense that Miguel Tejada took to Baltimore.
9. Troy Glaus is healthy for the entire season and makes Vladimir Guerrero the Angels’ second best hitter. When he’s 100 percent, Glaus is as near a dominant hitter as there is in the American League, and he’s going into his free agent season. I have this feeling that he’s going to take the Carlos Delgado leap from good player with big time power to dominant, offensive wrecking ball.
10. The Mariners, in a desperate bid to stem the negative publicity of yet another trade deadline debacle, pry Carlos Beltran from the hands of the fading Kansas City Royals, install him in center field, and watch the team rise from mediocrity to a legitimate force behind their new franchise player. The Mariners need Beltran, have the resources to acquire him while fitting him into the budget, and he will likely be available when the Royals are unable to repeat their miraculous 2003 season. Beltran is the impact player that would put the M’s over the top and change the tide of the division. If he ends up in Safeco Field for August and September, and disaster has not struck at some other position, there will be a better than nil chance that I’ll be flying back to Seattle in October to witness the World Series parade.
None of these things can be considered likely or even probable, but all are certainly within the realm of reason, and could have tremendous impact on the 2004 season. As it stands now, I don’t like our chances, but it never turns out how it stands on opening day.
It’s finally opening day. The first three didn’t count, as there is no opening day until Dave Niehaus is saying “Let’s Play Ball”. I’ll be getting to the big league club later this afternoon, and yes, you can expect us to say something about Raul Ibanez occupying the cleanup spot.
For now, though, here are links to the rosters for the Inland Empire ’66ers and the San Antonio Missions. The rosters for Wisconsin and Tacoma should be up later today, though they are relatively easy to discern through process of elimination. One of the understated effects of the Cabrera trade is the extreme overcrowding of infielders now assigned to Tacoma. The original plan had Ugueto/Lopez sharing time up the middle for the Raniers, but Ramon Santiago is going to muck that up. Toss in Mickey Lopez, and the team has four middle infielders on the roster. Justin Leone has earned a shot at the everday third base job, but is likely to find himself splitting time with the gaggle of utility players. A.J. Zapp and Bucky Jacobson should provide the iron gloves typical of slugging minor league 1B/DH types. It will be interesting to see how the playing time sorts out.