Monday, April 9, 2012

Thoughts on opening weekend

The Twins saw far too much of this during their series
in Baltimore.
Item: Twins get swept in Baltimore.

I think: There wasn't much of a silver lining to this series at all.

There are three American League teams with 0-3 records, and the other two are the Yankees and Red Sox. If the Twins have the same record as those two teams all season, I think Twins fans will be pleased with the season. But the Yanks got swept by Tampa Bay and the Bosox by Detroit, and those figure to be significantly better than the O's.

And now the Twins face a really daunting stretch of opponents: Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox ... 16 games against five really primed rosters.

It's easy to imagine this season spiraling out of control in April. Again.

Item: Ozzie Guillen tells Time magazine he "loves" Fidel Castro.

I think: Given Guillen's outspoken disdain for Castro-wannabe Hugo Chavez in his native Venezuela, I'm inclined to chalk this up to Guillen's mouth running out of control again.

If he were still managing the White Sox, this would be an exceedingly minor blip on the radar. But he's managing in Miami, where Castro is a hot-botton topic. I'm not sure there are enough fire extinguishers to put out this blaze.

Item: Johan Santana throws five shutout innings against the Braves.

I think: I listened to some of it via my iPad, and Santana was pretty clearly out of gas at the end of his stint. He probably didn't top 90 mph with his best fastball.

But it's good to see him back, and effective. A different kind of effective, to be sure, but effective nonetheless.

Joe Girardi overthought things in
the first inning of the first game
of the Yankees season.
Item: Joe Girardi opens himself to serious second-guessing.

Opening day, CC Sabathia on the hill for the Yankees against the Rays. In the first inning, with two on and two out, Girardi orders Sabathia to walk Sean Rodriguez intentionally to bring up Carlos Pena.

The Rays radio announcers reportedly immediately start trying to decide if Girardi is the biggest over-manager in Yankees history. They're still trying to figure it out when Pena's fly ball clears the right field fence for a grand slam.

I think: The numbers give some justification for Girardi's move. Rodriguez hits lefties well; Pena does not. That's why Rodriguez was hitting in front of Pena.

But just because I might do this in a Strat-O-Matic game doesn't make it the thing to do in real life. Sean Rodriguez ain't Albert Pujols, and CC Sabathia ain't Scott Diamond.

If Girardi doesn't trust Sabathia to get the likes of Rodriguez out in the first inning of the first game of the season, what does that tell his pitcher? What does that tell his team?

Girardi has a squad sufficiently talented that he doesn't need to prove that he's the smartest man in the room. Doing as little as possible would be the wisest route.

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