OT: Opening Day Thoughts

Submitted by DoctorDave on April 6th, 2010 at 11:02 AM

After the winter of our discontent, yesterday was one of those "hope springs eternal" days for me: Opening Day come-from-behind win for the Tigers, and a beautiful basketball game in the evening with a myriad of inspiring story lines. Speaking of the Tigers, though, my optimism was interwoven with moments of poignancy and nostalgia. Some observations:

  • I enjoyed the matchup of Verlander against Greinke (with the one notable exception), then got very nervous thinking about our starting rotation after Verlander and Porcello. I confess, I am really pulling hard for Bonderman
  • Our bullpen looked strong. Zoom-Zoom hits 103! And 10 strikes out of 12 pitches.
  • I had two belly laughs during that game: The towering pop-up in the first inning on which five Royals converged and nobody caught it, and DeJesus’ bouncing slide into 2nd on an uncontested steal
  • I still can’t get used to Johnny Damon in an Old English “D”. I still can’t picture him in pinstripes either, for that matter.
  • I think we’ll thoroughly enjoy Valverde. His antics were somewhat reminiscent of The Bird (RIP). The 24 pitches required to get out of the 9th were reminiscent of Todd Jones.
  • Austin Jackson had a good debut. I have my fingers crossed that he'll live up to his promise.
  • But I still miss Curtis Granderson a lot. And I miss Placido Polanco more than I thought I would, especially after his 3 hits, 6 RBI in his first outing at Philly. (That 2-out bases loaded grand slam made me tingle all over)

Your Opening Day observations?

Comments

BraveWolverine730

April 6th, 2010 at 11:09 AM ^

Are you limiting it to the Tigers? I thought Verlander looked okay. but no worse than some of his worse starts last year. The Royals are a pesky tema offensively that was able to get his pitch count up. Probably the most encouraging sign was Zumaya looking good out the bullpen. The Tigers were second in blown saves last year and most of that was middle relief. If they can get to Valverde they'll win a lot of games. Admittedly flipping back and forth from the Braves game meant I didn't get to see a lot of the game, but fortunately I did see the LOLRoyals moment.

My Braves looked very good hitting the ball yesterday. Heyward looks like the real deal even if the Espn love fest was even a bit much for me as a Braves fan. Escobar and Prado picked up where they left off. If we have a healthy Chipper and McLouth(Michigan fan btw) produce we'll compete in this division.

BraveWolverine730

April 6th, 2010 at 11:19 AM ^

To be honest I felt bad for Zombrano. In the first inning he threw one bad pitch which Heyward homered on. The other hits were all bloopers or a dribbler up the middle. The Braves did tack on 8 after Zombrano left, but that was probably helped out by Samardijza walking the bases loaded. The Braves aren't gonna be an offensive juggernaut, but with their pitching they just need to put up 4-5 a game and they'll win most nights. I still don't understand why Lowe is the #1 starter but other than that I'm fairly confident

Double Nickel BG

April 6th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

If Chipper stays healthy and Glaus shows up like a few years ago, I think the Braves can have a really good offense.

Cabrera isn't a great leadoff, but he has alot of postseason experience.

Prados been good hitting the ball.

Chippers still a top tier batter if hes healthy.

McCann can hit for power and average.

Glaus will be a wild card. Can he stay healthy/productive?

Yunel is a really good SS that can hit for both power and average.

Jason Hayward is a S. T. U. D stud. He'll win a MVP in his career.

McClouth, Id actually like to see him leadoff. With the Pirates and the last bit of last year, he was a really productive player, stealing bases and being a table setter.

The starting rotation should be really solid. Lowe,Hansen,Hudson,JJ, and Kawakami should hold up pretty well. Have to see if Hudson can make it back healthy.

And the Bullpen situation looks better this year with Saito as the setup man and Wagner at the backend to close it out.

Its Bobby Cox's last year. I think the Braves will really push into the playoffs and try to send him out on top.

GOBLUE4EVR

April 6th, 2010 at 11:22 AM ^

the shit kicking that the braves put on the cubs... heyward is going to be a great player... chipper said in an interview in the spring that he is better at 20 then andruw was at 20...

david, zambrano only lasted an inning and a third, but he was responsible for 8 earned runs... the cubs got out to a 3-0 lead and the braves put up 6 in the bottom of the first... there was a couple of flare shots and a couple seeing eye singles and then he gave up a 3 run shot and it was over from there...

david from wyoming

April 6th, 2010 at 11:12 AM ^

Max Scherzer is a great pitcher. We have as good as a 1-2-3 combo as any other team.

Polanco and Granderson are going to put up improved numbers this year simply because they are both playing in tiny tiny tiny ball parks. But giving Poly a three year deal is crazy and we got the better end of the Granderson deal.

brendandavis22

April 6th, 2010 at 11:32 AM ^

Really? You mean the guy with the plus 4 ERA in the NL last year? I hope you are right and he learned a lot last year but to say the tigers have a 1-2-3 combo as good as any team is going out on a limb.

Beckett-Lester-Lackey
CC-Burnett-Pettitte
Lowe-Jurrjens-Hanson

I'd take those 3 combos over the Tigers. Add in the fact that our 4 and 5 guys have done nothing at the MLB level in the last 2 years and you have IMO a very suspect starting rotation here. I like our pen but I think they will get a lot of work this year.

david from wyoming

April 6th, 2010 at 11:45 AM ^

You would really take Lowe and Jurrjens over Verlander and Max?? I think Hanson and Porcello are just about equal in age and potential, but Hansen gets more hype.

The only team I would say is clearly head and shoulders better than the top three pitchers of the Tigers is Boston. I would like matching up in the playoffs vs the Yankees, worst case it's a toss up, but I don't put a lot of stock in Pettitte this year.

Sherzer needs to be healthy. That is his only downside. He pitched through injuries last year, but the potential to be great is there.

Steve Lorenz

April 6th, 2010 at 11:47 AM ^

You can't rely off ERA to calculate how effective a pitcher he is. He's better than you're giving him credit for, but our 1-2-3 is only one of the league's best if Porcello takes a step forward this year. By next year we might have one of the two or three best. Among the other 1-2-3 combos I'd rather have RIGHT NOW:

SF- Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez
PHI- Halladay, Hamels, Blanton
CHW - Peavy, Floyd, Danks
BOS- Lester, Beckett, Lackey
NYY- Sabathia, Vazquez, Burnett
SEA- Felix, Lee, Bedard (when healthy)...Felix/Lee might be the best 1-2 combo though
ATL- Jurrjens, Hanson, Hudson

Blazefire

April 6th, 2010 at 11:23 AM ^

kind of looks like Granderson when he's standing at the plate chomping heavily on his gum. I did a bit of a doubletake when I first saw him up there.

Articles said Verlander wasn't quite to midseason form, which I suppose is sort of true. But seriously, 6 strikeouts in 5 innings, 4 total runs with two on an HR? He looked pretty good to me!

Gotta love Zoom. Dear god if we could just get a full season out of him...

When Willis starts and Valverde closes, we're going to be laughing our heads off.

BraveWolverine730

April 6th, 2010 at 11:23 AM ^

Agree with david about the Granderson deal. As much as I liked Edwin Jackson, if Dombrowski had resigned him it would be repeating the same mistake he did with Robertson. He sold high on Jackson and was able to get a Scherzer in return. Also I feel that Granderson is a good fit for the Yankees where he can bat 7th and had another 30 homer bat to their lineup, but the Tigers needed a leadoff guy and I think Jackson can be that.

bronxblue

April 6th, 2010 at 12:03 PM ^

They have been raving about him here in New York, but I actually liked the trade when it happened. I'm not high on Austin Jackson, but Granderson is probably a better person than he is a player. He still can't hit left-handers consistently, and his plate discipline has never been what you want for a lead-off hitter. Here he'll hit 30+ homers and play some nice defense, but basically a Damon-for-Granderson trade looks to be a wash. I'm happy that he at least moved close enough that I can still watch him on TV, though.

Steve Lorenz

April 6th, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

Zumaya/Perry looked solid. That'd be incredible if it continued.

Verlander looked meh but anytime we can get a win when Grienke is the opposing pitcher I'll take it. Also not worried about Ver at all, as should noone else be.

The Heyward blast was epic and now the hype is going to become ridiculous. It was awesome to see that blast off of Zambrano, who like the Cubs is perpetually overrated every year.

I am going to regret not drafting Stephen Drew in my money league.

White Sox will win the division. On paper they should win it easily.

goblueUM2012

April 6th, 2010 at 11:51 AM ^

Is it just me or does it look like Austin Jackson is going to be a complete stud. I know it is hard to judge a player off just one game but based just off his demeanor and how he looked swinging the bat in his first MLB game, I am getting a good vibe. Plus, he threw a guy out at home, not the hardest of throws but he still made it.

EL_Wolverine

April 6th, 2010 at 12:35 PM ^

The tigers bullpen looked awesome.We got four shutout innings form our bullpen with Zumaya pitching a scoreless sixth with only 12 pitches (ten on the strikes)and Perry getting four outs with only 11 pitches. I think our bullpen will make a huge impact on how our season turns out. i expect to see great things form them.

UMaD

April 6th, 2010 at 12:45 PM ^

The bullpen is the greatest reason for optimism with this team. Valverde is a rock. If Zumaya is healthy and Perry continues to develop as you'd hope, there are 2 elite flame-throwing talents to use as set-up men. Some solid lefties in that pen as well, with Coke, Ni, Thomas .

I actually also like Bonine in the pen. I'm imagining a hitter seeing his knuckleball...then next time up seeing heat from Zum/Perry/Valverde.

Dark Blue

April 6th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

Zumaya gave me the most reason for hope, he looked great, especially with his offspeed stuff. Ryan Perry was fantastic and Valverde got the job done although I wish he would have done it with less pitches.

The offense looked great once Greinke left, I think this team can be alright if the bullpen pitches well and the timely hitting continues.

formerlyanonymous

April 6th, 2010 at 3:35 PM ^

This guy threw the 9th inning, that wind up, every time. I haven't seen him throw with runners on base yet, but I imagine that has to be a balk with how he resets his foot 3 times then goes. And what the hell is up with showing the third baseman the ball on every pitch. Weirdest thing ever.

GOBLUE4EVR

April 7th, 2010 at 9:37 AM ^

it might not be a balk because in your first vid he comes to a stop each time he moves his foot and his foot is moving away from the plate... the only way i see it being a balk is if his foot was moving towards the plate each time he moved it or if he didn't come to a set postion before throwing... i also noticed in your 2nd vid that he only moved his foot once while in the 1st vid he did it 3 times... so he might have a motion for when no one is on base and one for when runners are on...

Steve Lorenz

April 6th, 2010 at 6:05 PM ^

xFIP of almost two runs higher than his ERA, poor walk rate and a LOB% of almost 81% which is more than 10% above the league average. His numbers from last year were pretty deceiving, making Houston's signing (5 mil/year!!!) a pretty questionable decision.

/ stat nerd talk

GOBLUEADAM

April 7th, 2010 at 5:53 AM ^

Openning Day used to mean something, WHEN IT WAS AT TIGER STADIUM! There was always a buzz in the air on that day, and the weather was usually nice. Sinced they moved to the Illitch play pen for the rich, it's all about how high he can drive the prices up, how many cheeks are in the seats, and how many suckers can he get out to see this 3rd place team, with all the minor league talent! At Tiger Stadium, WE KNEW THEY SUCKED, but at least we had the park, the tradition, the bleachers, and more fun than the law would allow! Now, they tell you to sit down and shut up, and wait for the scoreboard to tell you when to cheer! And since they moved to the COMA, the weather SUCKS, and they are cursed!