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Observations from Opening Day, Part II

Continuing on…picking up at 2-2, bottom of fifth:

*Sweet play by Mookie Betts to start the bottom of the inning.  Thought he may have misplayed a solid liner to right off the bat of Rajai Davis.  Ended up making the grab with a small leap at the end.  I worry about his arm in RF, but he should cover a ton of ground.  Goes without saying I suppose.  And the more he plays out there, obviously the better and smoother he will get.  Probably goes without saying again…

*First grounder to Hanley!  Slow roller…taken to the bag himself without incident.  Phew.  But still waiting for the first hard hit ball to him.  Or a throw in the dirt.  Come to think of it, Travis Shaw has not had one hit to him yet.

*David Price’s favorite music artist is Young Jeezy.  Coincidentally, me too!!

*Jerry Remy has lost 20 lbs since November by just “eating half-portions of meals”.  Good to know.   I’m sure that’s all it was.

*SHAWSIE!!  Another single.  Nice of Hanley to take the extra base from first to third.  But it wasn’t exactly the best move, though it worked.  In analyzing the play, Remy wondered if Butterfield gave Hanley a signal to come to third.  He didn’t.  What Remy failed to point out is that Hanley wouldn’t have listened to Butter anyway.  Side note:  Still haven’t seen any shots of Fat Panda in the dugout.

*BROCKSTAR!!  RBI single to make it 3-2 Sox.  Again, Farrell is a genius!!  Incidentally, no shots of Rusney Castillo in the dugout either.

*You think Ned Yost will pick Holt for the All-Star game again this year?

*TIIIIIITTTTOOOOO!!  It was definitely time for Tito to go in Boston.  Things had run their course with him managing.  But it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth how they kind of smeared him on his way out of town.  He deserved better.  I think you can pretty much say the same about Claude Julien when he gets fired soon.  Hopefully he won’t get bad-mouthed like Tito was.

*First grounder to Shaw.  Nice pick.  Solid throw to Hanley.  Slow runner in Carlos Santana, but still, as routine as you get.

*103 pitches, 6 innings, 2 runs, 10 K’s for Price.  Was hoping to get 7 out of him, but it will do for today.  Now let’s see if Junichi Tazawa’s arm has recovered from extreme overuse in prior years.

*Dustin Pedroia is 0-4.  I wonder if he sucks to start the year and if Holt continues with his strong starts he’s had the previous 2 years, Farrell has the sack to switch them in the lineup?  Holt 2nd and Pedroia 7th?  I think Hell would have to freeze over for Farrell to make THAT switch.  But worth noting.  Listen, I don’t hate Pedroia.  But he has been injury-prone, obviously.  And is not the MVP he once was.  But he should not be exempt from any move of this sort…if the goal is to truly win games.

*Joba Chamberlain sighting!  He looks a little thinner I think.  Not tough to do, of course.  But maybe my eyes are going…

*Nice…more excuses for Hanley’s poor year last year:  “pull-happy, homer-happy, injured shoulder”, yada, yada, yada.

*SHAWS…nevermind.  Sacks juiced, K looking.  Was a smidge outside and thus borderline.  But still…

*BROCKST…nevermind.  Liner to third with sacks juiced still.  Both Shaw and Holt had a chance to break this thing open.  Maybe Farrell isn’t a genius?  Ok, kidding all around.  It’s one game either way.  Let’s see how it plays out long-term.

*12 pitch 1-2-3 inning for Tazawa.  Encouraging.  But Juan Uribe, Tyler Naquin (first major league at-bat) and Rajai Davis…not exactly Murderer’s Row.  Let’s wait it out to see how he is after Farrell either warms him up or pitches him in 25 games in April.

*Chamberlain in the game now.  I think he IS actually skinnier.  But it appears that he sucks worse than ever now.  6 games with KC last year and an ERA close to 8.00.  Many other games with Detroit and an ERA close to 5.00.  Maybe he should start eating again to put some of that weight back on?  Or at least hang out with Panda after every game this series to get started on that?

*Ok, thanks for the reminder that Clay Buchholz is starting tomorrow.  Just ruined my night.

*Here’s Koji Uehara now.  Love this guy, have since the day the Sox got him.  But similar to Tazawa, let’s see how much he has left from a couple of years of severe overuse.

*Just learned that Koji ranks #1 career in WHIP.  Craig Kimbrel is #2.  Impressive.  But admittedly not a lot of innings there for either.

*This is not a repeat.  12 pitch 1-2-3 inning for Koji.  A little tougher road to hoe though in Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli though.  So a little more impressive.  But again, let’s see what happens when Farrell leans on him too much again.

*Mike Napoli may pummel the home plate umpire at the end of the game.  3 K’s.  But they were all pretty good at-bats.  And questionable strike calls throughout all the AB’s.  He had some sort of a case, I do admit.  But I say if they were that close, swing the bat already.  Questionable ball/strike calls on the Sox side as well.  In fact, Xander just took a called third strike way outside.  Maybe John Hirschbeck is cold and wants to go home.

One thing is for sure, you couldn’t pay me enough to be an on-field official in any sport.  Not with the hundreds of camera angles and slow motion replays that are available now to make you look like an idiot after any wrong call.  I say they all do a pretty good job, based on the circumstances.  There are very few calls that are egregious mistakes in real time.  We can certainly bash officials for those particular ones though.

*Big Papi homers…nice.  Then Hanley THINKS  he homers.  And watches at the plate as it hits the top of the wall.  So he gets only a single.  At least Remy finally says something about him not running.  Kind of tame though.

*Top of the ninth…and first shot of Pablo Sandoval in the dugout!!  Just kind of sitting there.  No sub.  No crumbs on his face.  No phone.  Kind of disappointing in those regards.  But he does look cold, I’ll give him that.  All wrapped up nice and snug.

*Craig Kimbrel’s debut for the Sox.  Not a save situation.  But glad to see Farrell didn’t warm him up in the ‘pen only to leave him there.  Like I said, no Noe Ramirez for me today.  Anyway, 19 pitches, worked around a walk and got yet another questionable third strike call to end the game.  6-2 Sox.  I’ll take it!

That about does it from here.  I think my fingers are tired.  But despite my pessimism of the upcoming Boston Red Sox season, it is ALWAYS good to win on Opening Day.  And Home Opening Day, which they hopefully will do next week.

Baseball is BACK!  I just hope the Sox don’t ruin my summah too early again this year…

 

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Observations from Opening Day, Part I

So this will be my first attempt at a “live” blog…well, it won’t be live, since it will be posted after the game is actually played…or during, depending on how long this gets.  Not to mention that I’ve recorded the game and am starting a few hours later.  But…the idea is pretty much the same.  And I get to skip the commercials.  You’ll have to bear with me on the semantics…

Anyway, without further ado (or adieu, depending on how you like your grammar):

*Pregame thoughts?  Welp, I was ready to do this yesterday, so the postponement was a disappointment.  That’s what you get when you schedule games in questionable weather locations in early April I guess.  But I learned the reason why Major League Baseball does this, from the immortal Nick Cafardo on the pregame show.  Warm weather cities do not want to sacrifice a bulk of their home games in April, when the kids are in school and all that.  They want to maximize revenue by having most of their home games in the summer.  So scheduling is about money too?  What a colossally HUGE surprise!!

*I think we covered lineup and roster decisions already.  So no need to go into any more pregame thoughts there.  God knows no one wants to hear any more about Fat Panda today.  Unless, you know, he actually DOES something.

*Nice touch by the Indians in the introductions, doing a little video thing of John Farrell as a player and “officially” welcoming him back to the field after his cancer from last year.  But can we still fire him after the game?

*Juan Uribe, Marlon Byrd, Colin Cowgill, Mike Napoli…all in the Indians lineup?  Ouch!  I know Michael Brantley is hurt.  But who else is to field all these guys?

*Glad to hear Dave O’Brien give an introduction of himself.  26 years in the game, 9 years “next door” in the radio booth, “growing up a Quincy boy, born into Red Sox Nation”, “greatest honor in his career is to be able to sit in this booth…”, “hope that you will invite me into your home…”, then rattling off previous Sox announcers, etc.  Guess the Red Sox ownership wanted to make sure the animosity from them firing Don Orsillo is all gone, and right out of the gate at that.  Oh, O’Brien also said, “I am going to call them like I see them”.  Haha…that’s hilarious!  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Being candid will be hard to do when Sox ownership regularly passes down the speaking notes.

*It’s still cold today in Cleveland.  David Price and Corey Kluber on the hill.  Looks like it should be a pitchers duel.  If top of 1st is any indication, could be a quick game.  Sox bats whimpering at the start.  If it was the Yankees instead of the Indians, the game would still be close to 5 hours regardless.

*Uh oh…on a 1-1 pitch to Jason Kipnis, O’Brien says “here comes the 1-0…”  Guess he is still in the exhibition season.  Don’t take it wrong, I actually like O’Brien.  But I hate mistakes, what can you say?

*Short bottom of the first for the Tribe as well.  At least we got the first throw to Hanley Ramirez out of the way.  Thank God it was pretty much on line from Xander Bogaerts.  Or else it may have been interesting.  No comment from announcers, by the way.

*Yup, Hanley gets up in top of the 2nd and it looks like some more of the ownership speaking notes are coming through:  “21 games in spring, no errors at first”.  “More you saw him at first, the more comfortable everyone gets”.  “He worked very, very hard with Brian Butterfield, you gotta give him credit for that”.  “Hanley put his work in”.  Ugh…

*SHAWSIE!!!  One at-bat, one hit.  Good way to start.  Waiting for the camera shot of Fat Panda in the dugout.  Not coming.  Maybe he was Instagramming in the clubhouse.  Or eating a sub on the bench.  I would have panned over to him though.  Missed opportunity.

*BROCKSTAR!!  Hit for Holt too.  John Farrell is a genius with these lineup decisions!!

*NESN apparently added the “Left On Base” total next to the typical “runs, hits and errors” display.  Not sure that adds anything to my experience.  But to each their own.

*Napoli has 42 at-bats against Price.  22 K’s.  Solid.  So Price of course walks him.

*First sideline report from Guerin Austin.  It’s cold out.  Hey, thanks a lot for the update.  Is there anything more useless than sideline reporters?  In any sport?  Oh well, at least it isn’t Gary Striewski out there today.  Side note:  Keep her away from John Farrell.  Would that be too much to ask?

*Mookie Betts has bowled 7 perfect games.  Bet you didn’t know that.  Neither did I.  But did we care?  I suppose there is a lot of dead air to fill during your average baseball game…

*Speaking of Betts, someone from ESPN predicted he would win the AL MVP this year.  Everyone else on that site picked Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera or Carlos Correa.  Not really going out on a limb on Trout or Cabrera, but ok.  And Betts just went deep. On pace now for about 500 home runs this year, so I suppose he has a chance!  Rem-dawg said it must have been all that bowling to get those strong wrists and hands.  Maybe it was O’B that said it, I don’t know.  Nice way to work in the bowling trivia though.

*Chili Davis is still hitting coach?  Didn’t we all want to fire him last year?

*More speaking notes from ownership:  Remy, “I think Hanley lost his way last year…”  Blah, blah, blah.  There was more, but I can’t listen anymore.

*Ah, here’s the third man in the booth, Alex Speier!  Third man in any booth?  Again, useless.

*Wow, looking back, it appears I am pretty hard on the broadcasters.  Sorry for that.  But sometimes it is just too easy.  And again, the dead time sometimes makes them say foolish things…or at least things no one really cares about.

*So much for the Shaw bandwagon…until his next at-bat of course.  K looking.

*The Indians have not had many people on base to this point in the bottom of the 4th.  But has anyone noticed that there have been no pickoff throws to Hanley at first?  Or have I missed one?  Or does Price not throw to first, similar to how Jon Lester didn’t?  Find it interesting nonetheless…

*Aaaaah, someone just heard me!  Price just lobbed one over to first.  Nothing more to report on that.  Or the second one that happened a pitch or two later.

*4 hits against Price, two runs.  78 pitches through 4.  That means we likely see someone from the group of Robbie Ross Jr., Noe Ramirez, Matt Barnes or Tommy Layne.  Was hoping to avoid all of those guys today.

*2-2 after four and a half.  Seems like we will have to split this in half…

 

I can’t believe it…

…the Red Sox really gave Travis Shaw the 3B job today?!  Guess I was wrong in my rant last week.  Oh well, wasn’t the first time and sure as hell won’t be the last.  But I am in shock.  Regardless of what was being said publicly on the third base “competition”, I didn’t believe a word of it.  Why would I?  How often have the Red Sox under John Henry & Co. actually been honest?  Is ownership now turning over a new leaf?  I would find that hard to believe as well…even if Larry Lucchino isn’t supposedly involved much anymore.

But I guess that is the way it is now.  Fat Panda and his 17.6 mil is on the bench this year.  So is Rusney Castillo and his 11.271 mil.  Rick “20.125 mil” Porcello is your FOURTH starter.  So far, Hanley Ramirez and his 22.750 mil is in the lineup, but I suppose he will get hurt soon enough anyway and that will take care of that.

This is definitely not how the Red Sox historically do things.  Well, for that matter, most teams don’t do this either.  You play the guys who are getting paid, right or wrong.  On one hand, I applaud the Sox for kind of “taking a stand” and changing the way they do things…for the start of the season anyway.  On the other hand…I think the Fat Panda move is a mistake…and the Castillo decision is also one…although to a lesser degree.

Why is the Panda move a mistake?  Well, I outlined that pretty much last week.  Shaw is not likely an impact player, certainly not an All-Star.  Any trade value Panda has currently changes to zero while he’s on the bench.  Does anyone expect the benching to motivate Panda to get in shape in order to fight for his job back?  What happens if Shaw comes out of the gate hitting .175 and you have to go back with your tail between your legs to a (possibly) pissed off Pablo?  Yada, yada, yada…it’s nice to see “on paper” that the Sox went with the younger, hotter (at least based on Spring Training), more motivated player.  But I think this has a very good chance to backfire.

Though in case you missed Panda’s response:  “It is best for the team for Shaw to get the job…he had a good spring…”.  Paraphrasing it here, but that was the gist.  WHAT?!!  How about being angry that you lost the job?  A little disconcerting, if you ask me.  Maybe he really doesn’t care?  This is ugly either way.  I have to tell you, if we are at this point, I wonder if the best move is just releasing him outright?  If you can’t trade him for pennies on the dollar (which presumably they have tried to do), what’s the difference?  It’ll never happen.  But this has the potential to get worse.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As for the Castillo benching, as if anyone cares, maybe it is not technically a “mistake”.  By all indications, he played poorly in the spring.  He has done nothing to distinguish himself in his brief major league career.  Certainly not to the tune of 11 million plus.  But the end result of the move is what I refer to as the mistake.

Brock Holt and Chris Young will platoon in left field.  Young, fine.  I think everyone figured he would play against lefties anyway.  Assumed for Jackie Bradley Jr., but it’s all good with Young.  But Holt against righties?  That means he will essentially play every day.  That may work for a few months.  But if the last two seasons are any indication, the more you play him, the more he wears down and contributes little as the season moves into its latter months.  Holt’s true value is playing multiple positions a few times a week.  Now he is essentially the every day left fielder.  Great for him, I do like the player a great deal.  I just don’t think it serves the team well sticking him in left most of the time.

I’m not saying I would play Castillo every day there either.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is the fact that they are keeping him as a seldom-used FIFTH outfielder.  Why bother?  The story goes that he basically didn’t play for a couple of years in Cuba.  He has not played a whole ton since he came to the States.  What purpose does it serve by keeping him on the bench here?  Barring injury, how much does a fifth OF play?  He should be playing every day in Pawtucket.  To see if anything at all can be salvaged with this signing.  And your last OF/last position player spot should go to a guy like…David Murphy.  Which is why I guessed he would be here.  I don’t love Murphs.  But pick anyone of that ilk.  Good enough.  Just no sense in having Rusney here at all…and that’s the real point.

I’m even less confident in the Sox this year than I was last week.  Maybe cuz this rotation looks scarier by the day.  Unfortunately, until Eduardo Rodriguez comes back, or some sort of trade is made, we are stuck with what is there.  Not many options.  Roenis Elias?  Henry Owens?  Brian Johnson?  Ugh.  Truth be told, I’m not counting on Eddy coming back any time soon.  Interesting how the team has been kind of vague on his status…and timetables keep moving as well.  Not encouraging to me.  Bucky went a solid 4 today…shouldn’t starters be going like 6-7 by now?  Maybe not.

Cross your fingers we have meaningful baseball in Boston this summer.  The schedule out of the gate appears tough.  John Farrell is still the manager.  The rotation is putrid.  Drama could evolve from the above.  All of that.

If not, at least we have Big Papi’s farewell tour.  Actually, don’t get me started on that…

 

 

 

 

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