I took the day off of school and headed down with a friend to Phoenix to watch the Diamondbacks-Cubs game. I'd been to two games at the Bank One Ballpark before, but my friend had been to a lot more, so he knew where to get free parking, what the best food deals were, etc., so it was pretty awesome...until the game started. Well, unless you were a Cubs fan.
Javier Vazquez started for the Diamondbacks. Here's how his first inning and two-thirds went:
Ground out (1-0 Cubs)
Single (2-0 Cubs)
Double (by Zambrano)
Single (3-0 Cubs)
Single (4-0 Cubs)
Double (6-0 Cubs)
Double (7-0 Cubs)
and he was done. OUCH. Oh, I have him in both my fantasy leagues. *Shudder*.
The Cubs pretty much coasted from there, although Zambrano had control issues and was relieved after only 4 and 2/3 innings (no win for Big Z) and made gestures that the umpire needed glasses and was subsequently tossed. Then mop-up time consisted of a bunch of Diamondbacks singles and Ramirez and Lee HR's for the Cubs. So not the greatest game, but it was fun anyway.
Then we listened to the Illinois - UNC game on the drive home. HOLY CRAP. If the game was half as good to watch as it was to listen to, it was a damn good game. The announcers were going crazy the entire 2nd half! Man, what a game. Good for Roy Williams. Too bad his whole team is leaving, practically.
So Astros Opening Day is tonight at 4:05 pm (here), 6:05 pm Central. I'll be watching the game on MLB.TV, which is AWESOME - I watched all the 'highlight reels' from all of yesterday's games (Young's 3 HRs, Adam Dunn destroying the ball, Richie Sexson, Pedro's 12 K's, etc.) in about an hour. Unfortunately for you, Andy, I don't think you can sign on in two different places, so the Astros game is MINE. ALL MINE. Bwahahahahaha!
So the batting order, as expected, is:
SS Adam Everett
2B Craig Biggio
1B Jeff Bagwell
3B Morgan Ensberg
LF Luke Scott
RF Jason Lane
C Brad Ausmus
CF Willy Taveras
P Roy Oswalt
I guess the only issue I have with this lineup is that Adam Everett has a career .315 OBP. Last year, supposedly his 'breakthrough year', he had a .317 OBP, with only 17 walks in 384 AB's. He is 25-for-28 in SB's, lifetime, an excellent rate, but he just doesn't get on base enough to be hitting in the top part of the order.
"Part of our game will be we'll have to run a little bit," Garner said. "We'll hit and run a little bit, but we do have some power potential, too. We do have a chance to be a complete offensive team -- not one dimensional or even two dimensional. We have a chance to be a multi-dimensional offensive team. How it's going to play out? I don't know yet."
This quote makes me a little nervous. If Garner runs with Everett (13 SB / 2 CS last year) and Taveras (55 / 11), that's fine. If he runs with pretty much anyone else (Biggio: 7/2, Ensberg: 6/4, Berkman: 9/7, Bagwell: 6/4, Ausmus: 2/2, even Chris Burke is only 37/14), he's just running us into outs. Generally speaking, your break-even rate for SB% is right around 60/70%, so only Everett and Taveras should be running often.
Garner said Biggio's game is "see it, whack it," so it would make sense for Garner to try to have someone on base already when Biggio comes to the plate.
Unfortunately, this is now true. Biggio has gone from 88 walks in '99 down to 40 walks in '04. That's a hell of a drop, and he's not really likely to improve in that department this late in his career, and you generally want your "see it, whack it" guys lower in the batting order, where Biggio's 71 extra-base hits might do a little more damage.
Ok, I gotta run, but I'll be watching the game tonight. Go 'Stros!