Things I learned on Opening Day '08

  • Mark Buehrle is quite ordinary against good teams -- Bull Pain pointed it out in the gamethread; Buehrle has markedly worse numbers both last year and in his career against "good" teams. This is obviously true of all pitchers in general, but it seems more pronounced with respect to Buehrle.

    Buehrle didn't look bad at all until the runs started coming. But when he starts to look bad, you almost have to wonder how he gets guys out at all.

    A common refrain around these parts in the second half of '06 was that Buehrle really needed to slow down when he started getting hit around. It's almost as if one of his greatest assets, his quick to the plate style, starts to work against him as he pounds the zone with hittable pitch after hittable pitch. I'd like to see him take a walk around the mound a little bit during one of these blowups. If nothing else just to try something new, when nothing else seems to be working

  • Orlando Cabrera will find many different ways to cost the Sox runs -- Cabrera drew a walk and scored on Jim Thome's HR in the first, but it was all down hill after that. He got a slow read on a groundball back up the middle to start Buehrle's implosion, then failed to even pick up a routine double play ball by the next hitter. Buehrle induced another near double play from the next batter, recording one out, before the wheels came off.

    Cabrera didn't just cost the Sox runs with his glove. He had a pair of gaffes in the 8th to help the Indians get out of a bases loaded, nobody out situation. I was not aware of it until I saw CSN display the stats, but Cabrera has a terrible record with the bases loaded (.209/.233/.278 entering the game). That's not something you expect from someone who is described as "a gamer" or an "adept handler of the bat."

    Cabrera's grounder to short, which allowed Jhonny Peralta to throw out a clearly safe Joe Crede at home, would have been bad enough, but Cabrera immediately followed it up with another mistake that cost the Sox. His overzealous takeout slide at second resulted in a double play that erased the Sox threat in the 8th. It was a debatable call, one that I initially called brutal, but it was probably the right one, or at least it's defensible. Those two calls in the 8th might have decided the game, and certainly should have elicited more of a reaction out of Ozzie Guillen.

  • Guillen is too kind, too gentle -- Guillen vowed to be more fiery this season, but given two golden opportunities to lay into an umpire in the 8th inning, he chose to have a civil conversation instead. I know Guillen's fiery reputation is a bit undeserved, but sometimes I think he takes special care to avoid falling into the stereotype, even if the situation calls for it.

  • Jim Thome can hit lefties -- Sometime this off-season I honestly thought about suggesting Thome leadoff against lefthanders. It was only after I took a better look at the numbers (.209/.325/.344, 14 HR since 2005) that I realized he didn't even get on base enough in those situations to justify the unorthodox move.

    It was a pleasant surprise to see Thome go deep twice off of a pitcher as tough as Sabathia, but I still feel like it will be the exception to the rule. It took him until July 2nd last season for him to hit his second HR of the year off a lefty.

  • Nick Masset is major league pitcher. Against Cleveland. In the first two weeks of the season -- Masset began last season with 9.2 innings of solid work against the Indians before he faced another club. He then posted an ERA over 8 in his next 29 innings before closing out his major league tour with another scoreless outing against the Indians. It's almost as if the Indians are making him look good when they have these big leads just to ensure that Masset is on the roster for the rest of the season.

    In all seriousness, Masset pitched well today, allowing just 2 baserunners in 4+ innings. He helped make what could have been a disaster of a game into an exciting game with a terrible outcome.

  • Alexei Ramirez is not ready for prime time -- Ramirez was the lone Sox hitter who failed to record a hit on Monday, and struck out 3 times. Two of those strikeouts were on just three pitches. Alexei also had an interesting day in the field, bumping into Jermaine Dye on a pretty routine ball in the gap to start the bottom of the first, and making a diving play on a misread of a shallow fly ball to center later in the game.

    It would be hypocritical of me to suggest that one game is enough evidence against to call for Ramirez' demotion after doing almost exactly the opposite in the previous two bullet points. But it does indeed look like Ramirez will have a significant adjustment period at the big leagues. Thankfully, if his final plate appearance against Sabathia is any indication, he does appear to be a quick study.

  • You guys really have a lot to say -- We had something like 800 comments during the game even though things really got shaky after 6th inning. I know our tech team is working hard on the performance issues, and we'll be running like a well oiled machine soon. For the most part, however, the new features have made the gamethreads a whole lot better.
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