Major League Baseball’s 2009 Opening Day is in the books, and it’s time for Remember the Sonics to provide commentary on significant happenings from Monday night.
Here’s a look at some things of note from Opening Day 2009.
Most Overhyped Headlines
New-Look Mets’ Bullpen Throws 3 1/3 Shutout Innings – This headline should read Old-Look Mets’ Offense Scores Only 2 Runs! The media has gone into frenzy over the Mets’ bullpen performance on Monday. It’s true, this is why they brought in J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez, but the media is leaving out one significant detail: who is going to get them the ball? If Oliver Perez was pitching Monday and their offense scored only two runs, do you think K-Rod would have had a save opportunity? Instead of marveling at how K-Rod did a four-minute dancing celebration for an everyday save conversion, think about how the Mets offense needs to pick it up to be successful. Yes, the Mets’ bullpen looks better, but unless their offense can produce more than two runs (against a miserable Reds pitching staff) the Mets aren’t going anywhere this year.
C.C. Sabathia Gets Rocked In Season-Opener – Yes, C.C. was beat up on Monday, but Yankees fans need to put away the pitchforks and pull out the history books. In 2008, Sabathia had an ERA over 10 through his first five starts (10.12 to be exact), and rebounded to nearly win the Cy Young award (in the National League). I’m not saying that C.C. Sabathia is going to suffer through four more terrible starts before turning it around (I’m not even saying that Sabathia will turn it around at all), but I am saying that if C.C. played anywhere else and were paid any less this would be back page news. For now, Sabathia is going to get butchered by the New York media and heckled by Yankee fans until he turns it around. Could he be the Yankees’ next big free agent bust? Absolutely, but I’d like to see more than one start until Sportscenter runs this story every three minutes.
Most Interesting Headlines
Aces Getting Busted – Opening Day was full of big-name pitchers giving up big-time run totals. Colorado’s Aaron Cook (2.1 IP, 6 ER), Arizona’s Brandon Webb (4 IP, 6 ER), Cleveland’s Cliff Lee (5 IP, 7 ER), Toronto’s Roy Halladay (7 IP, 5 ER), and the previously mentioned C.C. Sabathia (4.1 IP, 6 ER) were all kicked around the mound by anyone and everyone. Throw these in with a number of other mediocre performances (Jake Peavy, Francisco Liriano, Roy Oswalt, etc.) and Opening Day 2009 looks like a hitters’ day. Johan Santana was in the minority of pitchers who earned their paycheck, but the majority of club aces got lit up on Monday.
Bullpen Turmoil in St. Louis – At the end of spring training, Cardinals’ Manager Tony LaRussa gave RP Jason Motte the closer nod while the Cardinals sent RP Chris Perez down to AAA-Memphis. Motte fell apart on Monday (1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER), heating up a previously comfortable closer seat. It will be interesting to see how LaRussa handles this situation. He is typically slow to oust closers (look at how long Isringhausen mucked up the Cardinal bullpen before he was put out of his misery), but if Motte blows any more save opportunities, especially in this fashion, look for Chris Perez to be called up. Perez was shaky as the Cardinals’ closer last year (converted 7 of 9 save opportunities), but he is a 23 year-old former first round pick… Expect to see him around sooner rather than later.
Winning Teams Who Provided False Hope for Their Fans
Colorado Rockies (9-8 over Arizona) – Monday’s showdown with Arizona was a typical Coors Field box score: 17 combined runs scored, 8 combined home runs, and no pitching to be found. The only problem is this game wasn’t played in Colorado, it was played in Arizona! Colorado won in typical fashion, by putting up impressive offensive stats, but the fans hopefully know that this fashion won’t provide a winning team. The NL West is open for the taking this year, but Colorado is my call for last-place. Until the Rockies gather some sort of pitching talent they simply cannot keep winning games. Last I checked this isn’t a Big 12 football game, so scoring every time you touch it isn’t enough to win.
Seattle Mariners (6-1 over Minnesota) – I am a Mariners fan, and no one loved seeing The Kid’s home run stroke on Monday night more than me. Despite a good win tonight, here is what Mariners fans need to understand about Monday night’s victory: Felix Hernandez only gets to pitch once every five games! King Felix has Cy Young talent, but he can’t pitch every game for the M’s. Instead, the Mariners have to hand the ball to guys like Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, and Ryan Rowland-Smith (Ouch). Also, don’t forget that the Mariners offense featured the Mike Sweeney batting in the three-hole… The Mariners could win this year. Why? Because the Angels are aging and if they stumble the AL West offers no clear contender. The AL West might be the most open division in baseball, but unless Griffey gets his stroke back, Bedard stays healthy, and the bullpen gains some stability the Mariners probably can’t win in 2009.
Winning Teams Who Could Be Surprise Contenders
Florida Marlins (12-6 over Washington) – Don’t look now, but the Florida Marlins might have the best pitching rotation in the NL East. Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez, and Andrew Miller offer the most young talent of any major league rotation. The question is if they can pitch consistently. Nolasco’s line on Monday wasn’t too impressive, but it was enough to best a miserable Nationals team. The X-Factor will be Florida’s offense. Hanley Ramirez is an MVP-caliber shortstop, but his supporting cast is inexperienced (to put it lightly). Don’t expect Emilio Bonifacio to put up this kind of stat line all season (4-5, 4 R, HR, 2 RBI), but if the Han-Ram, Dan Uggla and crew can provide a marginal amount of offense, the Marlins pitching staff could pitch them into contention.
Texas Rangers (9-1 over Cleveland) – Coming into Monday’s game, all the stats/predictions favored the Cleveland Indians. Numerous experts and bloggers predict Cleveland to win a weak AL Central, Indians’ starter Cliff Lee is coming off a 2008 Cy Young campaign, and the Rangers’ made no significant offseason transactions to better a mediocre 2008 roster. The Rangers outperformed any expectations on Monday by lighting up Cleveland’s pitching staff for nine runs and limiting Cleveland’s offense to only one. As previously mentioned, the AL West could be the most open division in baseball this year. If the Rangers’ young players who lack experience (super-prospect Elvis Andrus and former Brave Jarrod Saltalamacchia) can contribute on offense, the Rangers might be able to steal the 2009 AL West crown.
RTS didn’t get it out in time, but expect our 2009 MLB Prediction Special some time this week…
Comment with what you agree/disagree on, we look forward to hearing from you.