What follows represents some assorted observations from the first four days of our new season. Note that this effort, in no way, represents an attempt on my part to summarize or encapsulate the action thus far. Rather, my intention is merely to — from one curious fan to another — to report those findings as might be of some interest.
Monday, April 05
Turns out, moderating a sweet live chat — while clearly the thrill of a lifetime — doesn’t allow so much for the ol’ baseball-watching. Fortunately, I got my head out of the netbook long enough to behold Sergio Romo‘s majestic slidepiece in his appearance versus Houston. It’s an incredible pitch, featuring close to 10 inches of glove-side movement, relative to a league-average mark of about 2.5 inches. Nor is this merely a product of an unusual release point, as Romo induces about 2 more inches of arm-side movement on his four-seamer (8 inches versus 6) than league average. All in all, with Romo, you’re getting close to 20 inches of horizontal differential between the fastball and slider. His whiff rate of 13.4% isn’t exactly Wuertzian (26.2% last season on the slider), but it doesn’t prevent Romo’s out-pitch from representing something of a spectacle.
Also of note is how Kyle Blanks jacked a terrific donger into the friscalating dusklight of an Arizona sky. During Triple-A Portland Beavers Media Day last year, I shook his (i.e. Blanks’s) hand. It was kinda like meeting Paul Bunyan. If Paul Bunyan had an afro, I mean.
Tuesday, April 06
This episode of I, Claudia’s took place less amidst the drunken revelry of my area sports bar and more in the confines of a local community college, where I watched games during a pastime commonly referred to as “office hours.” Utilizing the “mosaic” feature on MLB.TV, I was able to do something kinda smart — namely, to watch three games simultaneously while listening to a fourth, Colorado at Milwaukee, via the Brewers flagship station, WTMJ.
In case you didn’t know, Bob Uecker is officially the Voice of the Brewers, and he’s the sort of person you might refer to as a “wise guy.” Here, for example, are three notable quotables from the first two innings of the game:
1. “I was there just in case Mark dropped any loose change.” (On why he attended a fundraiser at an area YMCA with Brewers owner Mark Attanasio.)
2. “One time I grounded into an unassisted double play to the shortstop. He tagged second base, then ran to first and got me, too.” (On his running ability as a player.)
3. “When you listen to Brewers baseball, you hear a lot of stuff that’s not talked about, or even thought of yet.” (From a rather protracted, and largely fictional, account of how Tommy John Surgery got its name.)
In other news, would you care to guess who was manning right field for San Francisco today? I’ll tell you: Andres Torres. Here’s something you may not know about Torres: CHONE projects him for 2.0 WAR in only 87 games and 321 plate appearances this season, largely on the strength of a 7.8 UZR in center. Actual starting center fielder Aaron Rowand is projected at 1.4 WAR in 137/549. The latter is owed more than $36MM through 2012. The former? He doesn’t even have three years of service time yet. To be fair, Torres’s recent success represents something of a renaissance for the journeyman. Of the 32-year-old, our own Dave Cameron says: “He was terrible most of his career. Being good is a recent development that everyone is still trying to figure out.” Still, it’ll be nice to see what sort of production he, uh, produces this year.
Wednesday, April 07
Here’s an interesting sequence in Cincinnati. It’s the top of the third, and, with one out, Johnny Cueto strikes out Albert Pujols exclusively on called strikes. The next batter, Matt Holliday, fists — yes, I said “fists” — he fists a ball that dribbles just to Cueto’s left. First baseman Joey Votto fields it and flips to Cueto, but the latter has some trouble with his footwork, whiffs on Votto’s toss, and is unable to record the out. During the next plate appearance, Cueto appears unsettled, perhaps even as though he’s tweaked a hammy — a fact about which the Cardinals broadcast team makes note. A quick pan to Dusty Baker and pitching coach Bryan Price reveals the two discussing how much they like toothpicks — whether it’s a lot, or super a lot.. Holliday steals second and Rasmus walks. After whiffing at a slider, the next better, Ryan Ludwick, hits a grounder between third baseman Scott Rolen and shortstop Orlando Cabrera. I’d be tempted to call it a “seeing-eye single,” but I feel like that might do a grave injustice to the abstract concept of sight. After the ball gets by Rolen and ricochets off Cabrera’s glove, Holliday scores.
A quick shot of Johnny Cueto appears to catch the young pitcher mouthing the phrase “There’s no place like home.” Only, you know, in Spanish.
Thursday, April 08
I’m telling the truth and nothing but the truth when I say that FanGraphs contributor and known math snob Jack Moore is posting about C.J. Wilson‘s dominant Thursday start exactly one hour from now. I’m telling a lie when I say it’s because I ordered him to do it at knifepoint.
Win some, lose some, America. Win some, lose some.
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