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Opening Day Observations

It fits like an old shoe, no? Yesterday was Opening Day and today I feel like I’m already in gear for baseball season, making my plans to watch the game tonight before getting a chance to attend both tomorrow and Sunday. As readers of the blog may know, I had a chance to attend Opening Day as well, and have some observations I’d like to share for today’s post. Even though the game had a disappointing result, it was a great game to watch, and there were a lot of positives that came out of it.

  • The bullpen was fantastic, and I think it was a precursor of what we’re going to see all season from that unit. The thing I found most interesting was that everybody who was announced was making his Major League debut, which was pretty cool. If the bullpen is going to be that good, then the concerns about the starting rotation aren’t quite as big of a deal. If they can shorten things to a six inning game, well, I think the Royals have a chance to be in a lot of games. Of course, they are mostly rookies out there, so there will be days where they struggle.
  • I’d like to focus on Aaron Crow. Many were puzzled by the decision to put him on the roster. For one day anyway that decision was rewarded as he threw 1.1 innings, struck out three and looked generally dominant. I’m coming around to the idea that his future is in the bullpen as an absolute stud out there. I’d still like to give him one more shot at starting because starters are just so much more valuable. The thing is, though, that a reliever like Crow could revolutionize the bullpen if Ned Yost is willing to utilize him in that way. If he can use him when they need a strikeout and is willing to not pigeon hole him into a certain inning of use, then that can be a huge plus for the bullpen. I don’t’ know if we’ll see it happen, but it’d be great.
  • Tim Collins is little. Before the game he was walking to the Royals bullpen with Nate Adcock, who is not tiny. The juxtaposition of those two walking together made me laugh. I just want to put Collins in my pocket and maybe take him to the zoo or to get some ice cream. Aside from being little, he’s also very impressive on the mound. He started his inning in a bit of a rocky fashion, which could potentially be attributed to nerves. He calmed down, though, and looked very sharp against both righties and lefties.
  • I was a little disappointed with the way Yost used pinch runners. I know that’s such a small area of the game to be critical of, but it seems like the tying run is more important than the winning run. In the eighth inning after Butler walked, Yost pinch ran with Mitch Maier. So Maier was on first and Cabrera was on second. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to put Dyson on first? Don’t you play for the tie at home and the win on the road? Either way, it seems like Dyson pinch running was the smart choice. Then to compound the decision, after Ka’aihue walked, Dyson pinch ran for him. If you were going to use him anyway, it seems that it would have made sense to use him first. Oh well, small details, but something to watch out for over the course of the season.
  • I waited until here to bring this up because I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. The Alex Gordon bashing is ridiculous and comical. Yes, he went 0-5. Yes, he struck out three times. Yes, we were promised a new and improved Alex Gordon and the results looked awfully similar. There’s every chance in the world that his spring statistics can be chalked up to Arizona, but I’m personally willing to give it more than one game before we jump all over him. He had a bad game. It happens. It’s unfortunate that it happened on Opening Day in front of a big crowd, but if this game had been July 17 and he went 0-5, nothing much would be made of this. That ball he hit in the bottom of the ninth that went foul by about four rows would have been the best thing to happen to his career, I think. Unfortunately after hitting it, he did some chasing and that’s why the Royals are 0-1 and the Angels are 1-0. We all have to remember that it is a long season and not to get too caught up in a single game.
  • I liked what I saw from Luke Hochevar. He got a couple of balls up in the zone and the Angels made him pay for them, so that’s something to work on, but he was efficient and in command for most of the game. His defense didn’t do him any favors, but that’s another situation where I think the guys may have been a little too amped up and tightly wound. If it’s an issue in a couple weeks, then it’s worth being concerned about, but it’s still just one game.
  • Jeff Francouer showed us all why teams get enamored with him. He hit a homer and threw a runner out at the plate trying to score. Other than that he was dreadful at the plate and didn’t really have any other opportunities in the field. Interestingly enough, the homer was against a lefty lending fuel to the fire that he should be platooned. He should.

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting, but I’m glad to have Opening Day out of the way so we can move on to the rest of the season. I still maintain that it won’t be as bad as everybody thinks even though things got off to a rough start. Let’s see how they perform in a little more desirable conditions before we blast them. And yes, I know the Angels had to play in the same thing. I wasn’t using it as an excuse, but rather a bit of a pass before we make true evaluations. Either way, it’s great that baseball is back!

  1. Daniel
    April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

    My only beef with Hochevar is that he works t o o s l o w. I’d like to see how he performs if he picks up the pace a bit.

  2. Patrick
    April 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Great work as usual.

    Honestly, I was disappointed that they lost, per usual, but still I couldn’t be happier to be watching baseball. The bullpen looked great, especially Crow, and Collins once he settled down.

    I really thought that the foul ball that Gordon launched was a homerun.

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