Saturday, April 11, 2009

Meeting Expectations

Perhaps the crappiest aspect of the one-day opening day delay is that Gil Meche should have been starting this evening. I certainly feel bad for anyone who bought tickets for the second game at the New K* before last Sunday only to end up getting the gift of having seen Horacio Ramirez start.

*I actually missed yesterday's game as a result of assuming that since it was a Friday game, they'd be playing a night game. Stupid home openers. From what I can decipher, there was some dubious play on the field behind Ponson, and he didn't actually look that bad. Is this true?

In all fairness to Horacio, the Royals defense behind him was not exactly sterling. In the first inning, it seemed like Coco Crisp got a bad read on the first ball hit to him that ended up dropping for a hit, and then with two on defensive whiz kid* Wee Willie Bloomquist froze on a ball he too lost in that netherworld between the shadows and the glaring sun, having a two-out hit drop just out of his reach on the warning track. Both miscues were mostly defensible in the first, but later Willie Bloomquist tried to dive for a Nick Swisher-hit blooper in shallow right with Jeter on third, and Swisher ended up sliding into third as the ball got past Bloomquist in right. Swisher scored with ease, and the Yankees were granted three preventable runs thanks in part to the play in right of Willie Bloomquist.

*And, not that Bert is a defensive whiz, but it seemed like the single that squirted through the infield (I think in the fourth) between Callaspo and the bag was at least reasonably expected to be reached by the second baseman. Callaspo was at least two steps away, but that play along with his lateness at getting to second on the DeJesus single to shallow center were harrowing reminders as to how disturbingly slow he actually is. It was a long offseason, and we didn't really get to see much of Bert last year, but I was shocked at how slow he truly was.

Ramirez certainly is not without blame. The ball Posada hit in the first that drove in the first two runs, while playable, was hit to the warning track. Swisher did crush that home run ball in the fifth authoritatively. Hell, Cody Ransom got a hold of a ball that went just foul that looked like it landed about 25 rows back down the left field foul line. Ramirez was not able to get ahead early in the count and didn't work inside enough (although does someone whose fastball tops out at 91 have the luxury of being able to work inside and throw for strikes? probably not) to be effective.

We all knew this was likely to happen. A pitcher without an out pitch is going to struggle to get hitters out. If there is something to be taken from this start, it is that Monday's season opener being pushed back to Tuesday may end up getting Horacio dumped from the rotation sooner rather than later.

On the encouraging front, Robinson Tejeda flashed dominant stuff before struggling with control at the end of the seventh. Doug "Hannibal" Waechter (liking that nickname, Doug, even though Silence of the Lambs is a grossly overrated film) pitched well in the eighth and ninth as well. For the last 4 1/3 innings, Royals pitching returned to the lofty heights all pitchers not named Kyle or Horacio had reached thus far this season.

As for the offense, well, it didn't really show up. Again. Granted, this is maybe a little unfair. Thus far the Royals have faced Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Andy Pettitte and now CC Sabathia. Of those pitchers, Buehrle is probably the only one who could be expected to give up more than five earned more than a handful of times this season. Pettitte and Floyd both have their shortcomings, but Pettitte was insanely unlucky last season (his FIP was 3.71 while his ERA ended up at an undesirable 4.54--this due in large part to his unsightly .339 BABIP allowed), and while Floyd's season was the antithesis of Pettitte's (BABIP of .268 in 2008 with an ERA of 3.84 to a FIP of 4.77--the fourth largest negatively connotated disparity between the two ratios of all pitchers in baseball last season) he has the capacity for being dominant, at least on occasion.

Maybe once the Royals bats get to swing at more pedestrian pitching the runs will come. For right now, though, all we have gotten to see is them being largely overpowered by opposing pitching, with the impression of improved patience not yet manifesting itself on the scoreboard.

That is not encouraging.


Ray W said...

Ponson was alright the fielding was suspect but Sidney was also down 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 a lot and got lucky in that aspect but he can't keep that up or he's screwed because his luck will eventually run out

Old Man Duggan said...

Thanks Ray.