Monday, May 12, 2008

And That Happened

Yankees-Tigers/Braves-Pirates/Jays-Indians: All the games within a three hour radius of chez Shyster were rained out yesterday, which tells you that the weather was pretty crappy at chez Shyster too. This was fairly disastrous, in that in honor of Mother's Day, I took charge of the kids, which allowed Mrs. Shyster to go shopping all day. There's nothing more dire than seven or eight hours with a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old and no way to get them out on the playground or a busy street or something to let them run and blow off steam. What's worse, there were no afternoon baseball games to provide pleasant background noise either, because the only two scheduled to show up on my TV -- Tigers-Yankees and Indians-Jays -- were canceled. I thought about turning on the radio to catch the Reds, but after last week's experience, I couldn't risk Marty again.

The point of all of this is to tell you that I think I lost my mind somewhere between the Play Doh and the 153rd rendition of "On top of Spaghetti," so please forgive me if this morning's recaps are somewhat sub par. Anyway:

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3: All-hail the bullpen-by-committee. The Brewers have actually gained a game in the standings since I slagged on them on Friday. I wonder if the Gagne-drama is enough of a distraction to save Yost's job for a while should things continue to be mediocre in Milwaukee. It'll be an academic question if they get more games like this one out of Ryan Braun (2-4, 2HR, 2 RBI).

Royals 4, Orioles 0: Brian Bannister rights the ship (8 IP, 2, H, 0 ER). Tony Pena, Jr. was a defensive replacement. He didn't play on Friday and was a defensive replacement last Wednesday as well. Could it be that Hillman has finally figured out that it's not 1966 anymore and that this is a guy who can't get 500 at bats?

Mets 8, Reds 3: You have to wonder if Johnny Cueto's first couple of starts aren't going to end up screwing him up for a long time. If he had simply been passable out of the gate instead of dominant, his recent stretch of awfulness (4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 HR) could be addressed by a move to the bullpen or some time in Louisville or something. As it stands, though, there are probably a lot of people convinced that he just needs to be run out there 25 more times this year, assuming that he'll somehow return to being Bob Gibson soon enough. Instead of simply being a kid with great stuff but a lot of trouble with concentration and the gopher ball, he's under the microscope. An issue to be tackled on talk radio. A problem to be solved by anyone with a field pass and an idea about how to fix pitchers.

Rays 8, Angels 5: If the season ended today, the Rays would be in the playoffs and the Angels would not be. Just thought that was worth mentioning. All the more impressive is that Tampa Bay has been doing this while getting virtually nothing from their big money (for them anyway) corner infielders Carlos Pena (.716 OPS) and Evan Longoria (.711). I'm guessing each of them are eventually going to hit this year, which should make life pretty uncomfortable for the other wild card wannabes in the American League.

Marlins 5, Nationals 4: I'm guessing that if back in March you told Manny Acta that his best hitter come Mother's Day would be Aaron Boone, he would have reached for the Alka-seltzer. This one is all Luis Ayala's fault, though, as he came into the game in the 8th and gave up a single and a couple of homers in the process of wasting a nice start from Shawn Hill (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER). Dan Uggla had a big day for the fish (2-3, 2 HR) on a day when it seemed like 17 guys hit two home runs.

Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 4: Everyone was ready to crown Arizona last week and then they come to Chicago and drop three straight. Yesterday's may have been excusable, though, as it was under 50 degrees and rainy, which isn't exactly the kind weather anyone can get all that enthused about playing in.

A's 12, Rangers 6: Rich Harden makes his first start since April 2nd. It wasn't a good one: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 4 BB. Thankfully for him, the Rangers sent out a slate of pitchers that were thought to be decent, oh, a decade or so ago, they got shelled, and Harden was off the hook.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Yes, I know this was Saturday night's game, but (a) yesterday's game was pretty nondescript; and (b) this game was Maddux's 350th win. My man crush of two decades goes six innings, giving up three hits and one unearned run. All I ask is for five more wins so that he can retire with more than Clemens, and after that I will stop bargaining with God in an effort to protect his health and well being.

Mariners 6, White Sox 3: At the end of April, Ichiro was hitting .250 or something. An 11 game hitting streak to kick of May has him all the way up to .292 now, so I guess we can stop worrying if he'd lost something. And, yeah, I know they won the game and he got a couple of RBIs and everything, but can anyone explain to me what Miguel Cairo is doing starting at 1B for a team that, a month ago, had aspirations of making the playoffs? I mean, I know Seattle is having trouble with attendance, but I don't think having an original Devil Ray batting second is going to do anything to help it. You laugh, but the freak show rationale beats the baseball one.

Giants 4, Phillies 3: How happy do you think Ryan Howard is to have Andruw Jones around this year? Sure, he has a few more home runs, but they're both making eight figures are basically hitting .170 with a .280 OBP. He somehow hit a triple in this game. I didn't see the replay, but I have to assume that this was a blown call by the official scorer.

Astros 8, Dodgers 5: Somebody probably needed to wake up Joe Torre before he allowed Jonathan Broxton to give up his fifth consecutive hit without retiring a batter to start the eighth inning. I mean, the Dodgers did have the lead entering the frame, so there was something worth paying attention to.

Twins 9, Red Sox 8: This was probably the first time I've ever watched a Major League game and honestly thought, "yeah, I could probably hit this guy." Not the knucklers, but Wakefield threw a heck of a lot of his "fastballs" which, as Morgan pointed out, were essentially batting practice pitches. Speaking of Morgan, I realize he gets a lot of crap thrown his way (and that he deserves an awful lot of it) but at least while I was watching, he made probably five or six good sharp observations that added to my experience as a viewer. Just thought it was worth noting.

15 comments:

B said...

I don't usually think much of Morgan, either, but I noticed he was surprisingly decent tonight. More of this and he can break that tie with Joe Buck for most-hated announcer.

Mark Runsvold said...

I'm really starting to be convinced that Joe got a talking-to this off-season or something. Like ESPN told him he actually has to know stuff about the teams he covers that don't play in the Bay Area, New York, or Boston and that don't have one of Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez or Barry Bonds on their rosters. He's almost achieving normal bad as an analyst instead of crazy, histrionic, worthless bad.

Also, Pena has been sucking, but Longoria has gotten unlucky. His BABIP is .259 even though he's hitting line drives 22.2% of the time. Dude has walked 13 times already and hit 4 home runs. He would be OPSing north of .900 were luck kind to him.

Mark Runsvold said...

I think it's also worth noting that Ryan Howard's triple was totally legit. He hit it up against the fence to straightaway center in San Francisco, which is like two nautical miles into the bay. The fact that Howard's last homer was to left field and that he crushed this one to center makes me think he's not trying to pull everything anymore and will start to go nuts on National League pitching soon.

Levi Stahl said...

The Brewers weren't the only team in that matchup yesterday to be using a closer-by-committee approach: the Cardinals have officially adopted one until they make a decision about Isringhausen's role.

Add in that those are also the only two teams that bat the pitcher eighth, and you've got a weird managerial confluence.

Chris H. said...

Re: Cardinals/Brewers...it's been fun watching their closers take turns looking awful. I was at Friday's game and Isringhausen had absolutely nothing...and of course, Gagne isn't fooling anybody either.

And I agree that somebody must've said something to Morgan at some point. Even his chats on the Worldwide Leader's website have been surprisingly coherent.

Mr. Thursday said...

Allow me to affirm the words of everyone else: though I have only seen Sunday Night Baseball twice this year, Joe Morgan has been really pretty decent. Not perfect, sure. But, honestly, I think he's saying things I find interesting more often than ones that anger me, which is really all I can ask from a color guy.

Pete Toms said...

Re. Gagné, any believers in the theory that a lot of players outed in the MR are suffering this season? Pre MR, well pre MR, I heard Jim Traber accuse Gagné of being juiced. Traber's rationale was that Gagné added a handful or several MPH to his fastball in his mid 20's, which doesn't happen naturally. Many also think that without the juice he couldn't have withstood the abuse that he endured as the dominant closer in the game as a Dodger. Post juice, he can't stay healthy.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Pete -- I couldn't find it quickly, but someone on ESPN.com did a quick rundown of the early-season struggls of MR players a couple of weeks ago.

I'm guessing that the effect is a bit more attenuated, though. IIRC, most of the confirmed juicing was from a couple of years prior, among players that felt the need to boost performance (i.e. feared decline) a few years ago. As such, some of what we're seeing now is no doubt a function of aging and injury just as much as it is a return to natural levels of performance (granted, the juicing was masking a lot of the injuries before).

Pete Toms said...

C, that ESPN report was what I was thinking of ( I can't remember who wrote it ). I do recall that Guillen was one of the names mentioned in it. Last week Olney wrote that some anonymous industry person told him that some guys are a lot smaller this season. If run scoring is reduced and length of games shortened, I'm all for it.

John Lynch said...

Joe Morgan's problem has never been analysis of the game on the field. I find that he often makes observations that I never would have picked up on left to my own devices. Joe's problem is usually when he tries to talk about the game from the big picture: player evaluation, strategic decisions, roster construction. These are not his strong suits. This makes sense. As a player, he was trained to assess baseball from the perspective of a player. It payed to know all sorts of details about the way double plays are turned, or signals from player to player, or proper positioning. It didn't pay to know about the larger elements.

Dre said...

Brutal weekend as a DBacks fan here in Chicago, brutal bullpen, brutal offense, and even more brutal weather. Could've easily come out with all 3, should've easily won 2 of 3, and in reality come out with nothing but a slight cold.

Anonymous said...

APBA Guy-

The beloved A's escape Texas 1-2 thanks to the Texas mush ballers mentioned by Shyster. More troubling is the A's continued use of K Suzuki in the leadoff role, where his average has dropped 100 points in 2 weeks. Geren has clearly confused him with that "other" Suzuki, who is on pace for 67 steals and whose average is up 40 points the last 2 weeks.

Zito vs. Oswalt at AT & T tonight, a chance to watch a great matchup circa 2005. Now that they are making a combined $ 30M it is entertainment of a different sort.
Personally, I'll be cheering for Miggy. B-12, C-12, we still love him here.

Daniel said...

Dre, as an Angels fan, I feel your pain. Swept in Tampa. Sounds like a bad Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. And I would have given either of them a better chance to produce some offense than the Angels on Friday and Saturday.

I mean, Shields and Kazmir are pretty good, but 18 straight shutout innings is absurd. And then Speier comes in and takes the L on Sunday. Brutal is as good a word for it as I can think of.

Alex said...

Lynch -- I find that Morgan's play-by-play analysis is the most frustrating thing to listen to from him. Sure he provides insight sometimes, but usually he just describes the play exactly how it happened, adding nothing. What really drives me crazy is how he does it with this grandfatherly tone, patiently going over the obvious, as if we're lucky to hear it from a former player, and his word is final.

64cardinals said...

Hillman hasn't figured it out about Pena yet. Even as a defensive replacement, he still had to make sure Pena got an AB yesterday. He just doesn't get it.


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