Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day Dopeness and Wackness: It could be one of those years

We'll be straight with you: We were so excited to watch baseball and so geeked by the first eight-and-a-half innings yesterday that it took awhile for the fact of yesterday's loss to actually sink in.

And as we got to thinking about it, it struck us that this what this whole season could end up being for us Blue Jays fans: An exercise in finding the positives wherever they might be hiding.

Opening Day Dopeness
When it comes to the good, Shaun Marcum and (gasp!) Vernon Wells obviously stand out. Marcum looked great through six innings and lost the handle a bit in the seventh. It's pretty hard to fault him on that pitch that Nelson Cruz swatted out for a three-run equalizing shot, because that was a pretty great location, and we're still dumbfounded as to how Cruz half-swung and drove that ball 400 feet.

As for Vernon, we've been really impressed with the fluidity of his swing so far this season. He's not dropping his hands and he's coming through the hitting zone quickly and on a nice level plane. And if he keeps doing that, there may be room for in our cold cold hearts to welcome him back.

Adam Lind's swing is worth every penny he's got coming to him. And Aaron Hill continues to be awesome.

Opening Day Wackness
So, uh, Jason Frasor...How's that closer role feel? Not to get all irrational over one game, but we actually started to wonder yesterday what Kevin Gregg might have done in that situation.

(And yeah, we know that's the stupidest thing ever. We're just sharing our stupidity with you so that you know that fending off our inner Jays Talk caller is a constant struggle.)

Also: Lyle Overbay left five guys on base.

Opening Day Dopeness, Disguised as Wackness
Sure, Travis Snider struck out three times yesterday. But he also worked his way into deep counts, and worked his way back to full counts in two of those at bats, and a lot of his strikes yesterday were on foul balls that he got to quickly and fought off. With that patient approach, Snider's going to get pitches to hit eventually.

37 comments:

Dustin McGowan's Sideburns said...

Liked what I saw from Marcum. I am sure Frasor feels like crap for blowing it for him. I didn't see anything in Marcum that concerned me, so that's definitely a good thing.

As for Wells, I can only hope that he bounces back this year. I liked what I saw in his rips yesterday. Let's hope he keeps at it and produces, we're going to need it.

Snider... ugh. As much as I agree with you that he struck out 3 times in good at bats, I am somewhat concerned that The Manager may not let him hit through it if the K's keep piling up.

Regardless, it was a loss, but there were some definite positives, Lind and Hill included.

I remain optimistic.

eyebleaf said...

Vernon is back, and it's good to have him back. Frasor will bounce back. And fuck an Arlington jet stream.

Jim Briggs said...

I like Lyle LOBerbay, but I also like me some Randy Ruiz. Would have been nice to see what Chunk could have done in that situation.

CITOOOOOOO!

brainiac said...

Sure, it was a loss but we are going to see so many of them this season there isn't any point dwelling on them. What we DID see was fantastic.

Christopher said...

Up 4-3 in the eighth very few managers would subtract O-Bay's defence for Ruiz's offence.

Not pinch hitting for Buck is another matter all together...

Ty said...

Agreed on Snider -- while the 3 K's in the box score look bad, those are the kinds of AB's he needs to have. I think even The Manager can see that.

Also, I know this is an awful thing to say, but I don't think I've ever been rooting for someone to get injured more an I am right now for Alex Gonzalez. I'm sure he's a great guy and all, but if we're going to be playing a shortstop purely for defensive reasons I don't see why John McDonald isn't out there, and further to that point, why not give Mike McCoy a shot to see if he can be as successful here as he was in the minors? I can deal with pretty much everything else that's wrong with this team, but I'm just so darn unreasonably worked up about that shitbag A-Gonz.

Ty said...

At the very least, have Ruiz pinch hit for him in the 8th/9th innings and then bring in McDonald on defense. It's pretty much exactly what this bench is set up to do, but I'm fairly certain it's not going to be happening.

Mark said...

Yeah. Ruiz should be PH for Buck in that spot, and then you can bring in Molina who's a better defensive C than Buck. No guarantee Ruiz gets a hit, but even a single brings in 2 runs.

What's the point of having Ruiz on this team if he's just going to give Overbay a day off? The roster is built so that Ruiz can come in every single time a key situation is up for Buck/Gonzalez and then can be replaced defensively by J-Mac and Molina.

The Ack said...

At the very least, have Ruiz pinch hit for him in the 8th/9th innings and then bring in McDonald on defense.

Easy peasy what's the problem Ceets? Especially with TWO bench players capable of playing short.

Tao of Stieb said...

Oddly enough, I don't see the sense in killing The Manager for not going to the bench in the late innings.

I wouldn't have pinch hit for any of those guys in those situations. You do need to give players the opportunity to succeed early in the season. If Buck hits a triple, we're all on the John Buck Fan Train this morning.

The Ack said...

There's merit to that Tao, but with these veteran guys like Buck and AGon v2.0, isn't there some degree of "they are who we thought they were" in play here (cue Denny Green)?

I mean, those guys are not plus offensive players (and we all wish/hope Ruiz could be), and if their confidence is shaken by a pinch-hit substitution, they probably don't havea firm grasp of what's making their money....no?

That said, it's game one of the season, so I don't know we can read into a year's worth of future managing decisions by Clarence based on what happened yesterday. I'd hope not, anyway.

REAN said...

Admit it - we were ALL wondering why Ruiz didn't see an AB in the 8th. A-Gon & Buck known quantities? In the first game of the year? Maybe not fully ... but known enough to get Ruiz in there.

Leaker said...

Looks like another season of Overbay futility. It's only the first game and he's already in mid-season form. C'mon Lyle, get that guy in from third with less than two outs! No, a strike out to the eighty year old Oliver. Overbay and his suckiness wear me out. He was the one player I was praying AA would move, but he's still here like a cancerous lump.

Tao of Stieb said...

Overbay did hit a couple of screamers, as I recall. He didn't look terrible.

And in terms of the pinch hitting, I think that the "obvious" choices that we're saying that The Manager didn't make are more obvious in retrospect.

In the moment, I wasn't expecting Ruiz to come bounding out of the dugout.

Jim Briggs said...

None of us were expecting Ruiz to slunk out of the dugout, but that's in part because Cito has only played him when forced to, despite his proclamation that "I think this kid could hit 25 homers."

I might be an idiot for not respecting the defense but I'd be happier in a world where Eddie E5 were on the bench, Bautista were at third, Snider were in RF, Lind in LF, and Ruiz were DHing. Don't know about you dudes, but HRs are a lot more fun than flashy glove work to me, J-Mac's 2007 notwithstanding.

Ruiz has done enough to warrant a year's chance, especially with the 2010 edition of the Jays and a really-still-healing Encarnacion.

REAN said...

Maybe we were all high strung from a winter of expecting Ruiz to rot in A ball or on the bench.

Patience is a virtue, I suppose.

Tao of Stieb said...

The relative value of HRs versus glove work is a pretty interesting conversation, depending on the situation.

Mark said...

"I wouldn't have pinch hit for any of those guys in those situations. You do need to give players the opportunity to succeed early in the season. If Buck hits a triple, we're all on the John Buck Fan Train this morning."

It's not like these guys are prospects. Buck has a 243/325/423 line against LHP for his career. Last year it was 664 vs LHP. In a key situation, this is not a guy you want up there facing LHP when you've got a RH power hitter on the bench.

I'm all for giving players a chance to succeed, but there's a difference between giving players an opportunity to win and giving your team a chance to take a commanding lead.

Washington was faced with a similar decision in the 8th inning. Downs relieved Marcum, and Blanco was up to bat. Garko came in to pinch hit. Blanco's hit lefties in his career about as well as Buck has (small sample size for Blanco), but with a weak hitter up and Garko, a career 312/391/494 (885) OPS hitter against LHP on the bench, Washington was smart enough to pinch hit and bring in Garko. Didn't work, but Washington gave his team a better chance of winning simply by pinch hitting Garko.

And that's all you can really ask for.

Mark said...

^^ To clarify, I mean Ron Washington, Texas' manager.

Dan said...

Cito dropped the ball big time in the 7th. Marcum shouldn't have even started the frame, except for some deranged nostalgia taking over because he had a no-hitter thru 6. 80 pitches should have been his max no matter what, and the 7th was the dreaded '3rd time' thru the order. Not to mention, a smart skipper has the bullpen ready at the START of the inning...

Anonymous said...

Dan: FAIL.

Marcum was handled fine. That homer is a fly out in most other ball parks. He was still making good pitches.

Tao of Stieb said...

Look, if I were managing this game on MLB 10 The Show, I'd have made all sorts of moves in those late innings.

But frankly, John Buck's career .748 OPS against lefties is not so bad for a catcher that you need to yank him out of a key at bat in the first game of the season.

Let the player have an opportunity to progress before you beat him over the head with his career splits.

Jeremy said...

The Jays offense needed to provide more support than the 3 runs we gave Marcum throughout the game. I mean, we were playing Texas! I blame them for not capitalizing on pounding Feldman out of the game. But Feldman hung in there, you have to credit him for that.

Mark said...

Leaving Marcum in the 7th was fine. it's hindsight bullshit to even suggest he should have been taken out. The Rangers hitters made an adjustment, and Cruz hit a very good pitch by Marcum. Hat tip to the wind, but let's remember there's a reason Texas is known as a hitters park. Flyballs like that get turned into HR's. That's not something we can blame Marcum or even Cito for.

As for the argument about leaving Buck in, it's a silly argument to suggest we should give him a chance cause it's opening day. He was 0/3 to that point, and quite frankly this is not a guy who we should use in a high leverage situation like last night in the 8th when we have better hitters on the bench.

This team is not good enough offensively to justify giving away at bats like that. I think what bothers me is that this isn't the last time I'll have to make this comment, because I get the feeling Randy Ruiz will be on the bench while Gonzalez & Buck will be given an opportunity to hit in a key spot.

JB said...

You start Marcum in the inning, but yank him as soon as he gave up the first hit. Easier said than done because the bullpen wasn't ready.

It was clear that the tank was empty and he was struggling around the 80 pitch mark. Since it was opening day and his first MLB start since the surgery, I think it was a little much to stretch him further -- no hitter or not.

I threw this question out at DJF --What type of innings can we expect from Marcum this year given the time off, surgery, and previous pro high is 159.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood the logic of scheduling a day off after opening day.

Anonymous said...

Here here 6:06. What the hell is up with the day off mid-series?

Anonymous said...

I don't know - it seems to happen every year to quite a few teams. There were 13 games yesterday and only 7 today.

victorymanual said...

It's tough to dangle a potential closer as trade bait when he can't close.

What a heartbreaker! TANK NATION 2010!

Speaking of trade bait, I think Overpay looks good. Expect him moved around the All-Star Break.

Does CHOW CHOW post comments here?

Mark said...

"It was clear that the tank was empty and he was struggling around the 80 pitch mark. Since it was opening day and his first MLB start since the surgery, I think it was a little much to stretch him further -- no hitter or not."

Actually it was pretty clear that Marcum was still pitching very well. Velocity and command were good. The Texas hitters just weren't falling for the fastball and then change up down and away anymore. It's called adjusting to the pitcher.

Right after the Cruz HR Marcum got back to getting ground outs on Davis & Saltalamacchia. If he was tired he wouldn't have been able to do that, and Texas would have continued hitting him. But that wasn't the case.

JB said...

I am sure you believe that right now, but perhaps after you look at the data from pitch f/x -- it shows that Marcum lost it in the seventh. Compare the movement from the first 5 innings.

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfx/index.php?month=4&day=5&year=2010&game=gid_2010_04_05_tormlb_texmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=451788&prevGame=gid_2010_04_05_tormlb_texmlb_1%2F&prevDate=45

But it can't be much of a surprise considering that Marcum has never really gone deep in a game his career, let alone opening day in his first start since going under the knife.

kingofcabbagetown said...

Mark is right on several fronts. I propose him to take over game analysis on this here blog, TOS you are demoted to music and picture editor...

Tao of Stieb said...

Pfft...I demote you, motherfucker!

Tao of Stieb said...

GARGH! GARGH! GAGH!

FIVE MINOR LEAGUE GAMES LAST YEAR PLUS ALL OF THE PRESEASON!

NOT LIKE HE JUST WALKED OUT OF THE OPERATING ROOM!

GARGH!

JB said...

Don't you think that preseason and re-hab in the minors is a bit different from a major league start?

Tao of Stieb said...

I think he'd probably have been going full out in his minor league outings, and that he'd be at 90% in his last Fake Game.

I just think that it's kinda horseshittish that people are second-guessing that call two days later.

JB said...

Isn't second guessing a fun part of this game?

If you look at the opening day starts it was clear that every pitcher was on a tight pitch count, let alone a guy like Marcum. Even Halladay only threw 88 pitches.