“There are no birds in last years’ nests” -Narrator in really awesome Twins’ 1991 World Series video.
Bud Selig has gone all John Rambo on opening day. Seattle and Oakland (seriously) were chosen to represent MLB in Japan last week in a two game series that has to have made NPB look pretty darn appealing by comparison.Then there was a game last night (where Kyle Lohse inexplicably took a no-hitter to the seventh) followed by a number of games today before we finally get to the week’s main event, Twins/Orioles, tomorrow afternoon.
Baltimore finished a full six games ahead of our boys last season, meaning they were…well they still sucked. Prospects for 2012 are similar as they a) play in the AL East (which might be better than ever) and b) might have gotten even worse. The lineup features at least three bona fide good players in Matt Wieters, JJ Hardy and Adam Jones as well as Mark Reynolds and Nick Markakis, two guys who can still do some damage with the stick. Where the issues lie, however, is a rotation for which very little has gone right over the past few years. Once hailed as the future of the franchise, young pitchers like Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta have struggled, faced injuries and mysteriously lost velocity leaving the starting rotation as an impressive who’s who list of nobodies.
This all bodes very for Minnesota fans as we’ll get to see the Twins play in a beautiful stadium (Camden Yards) against pitchers the revamped offense should be able to hit. Our team is playing a series they have a good chance of winning and fans will (as an added bonus) be able to whine incessantly about the JJ Hardy trade. It’s a fun way to start the year unless, you know, you were hoping to watch two good teams play baseball.
Game 1 Friday @ 2:05 PM CST:
Carl Pavano (4.30 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 50.6 GB%) v. Jake Arrieta (5.05 ERA, 5.34 FIP, 4.45 BB/9)
-Arrieta logged only 119.1 innings last season before being shut down due to a “fibrous mass” in his elbow.
-No, dearest reader, you are not wrong. Fibrous mass would be a totally bitchin’ penis euphemism.
-BA’s scouting report coming into the 2010 season described Arrieta thusly: “Arrieta’s pure stuff compares with any of the Orioles’ elite young pitchers, but his command puts him a notch behind them. While some scouts think that could eventually send Arrieta to the bullpen, the Orioles see him as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who can pile up 200 innings a year with no problems.”
-Arrieta’s career MLB statline, however, describes him thusly.
-Pavano, among qualified pitchers, posted the MLBs second lowest K/9 (4.14). Arrieta, among pitchers with at least 110 IP, posted the 4th highest BB/9 (4.45).
-This has to be one of the most depressing opening day pitching match-ups in history.
Game 2 Saturday @ 6:05 PM CST:
Francisco Liriano (3.60 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 9.44 K/9) v. Tommy Hunter (4.68 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 4.78 K/9)
-Gotcha, that’s Liriano’s 2010 stat line. God willing, he’ll approximate that this season.
-Hunter was acquired from Texas for Koji Uehara last season.
-He looks like a Twins pitcher in that his exceptionally low strikeout and walk totals lead him to an exceptionally mediocre ERA.
-Consider him a trade target the next time the Twins have a good, young, cheap shortstop. If he’s still pitching then.
Game 3 Sunday @ 12:35 PM CST:
Liam Hendriks (3.36 ERA, 5.29 K/BB at AA/AAA) v. Jason Hammel (who?).
-For a guy who doesn’t get strikeouts (4.97/9) Hammel (that guy on the Phillies?) sure walks a lot of batters (3.59/9 innings).
-Hendriks may or may not stay in the rotation depending on Scott Baker’s elbow and his (i.e. Hendriks’) performance. Despite only 152 innings above A ball, he’s pretty much MLB ready. His upside is probably around league average starter.
-He is Australian though, so there’s that.
Look, it’s not the most exciting series on paper. But it’s plenty nice just to have baseball back in our lives.
Your song is “Oh Alberta” by Elliott Brood. It features a slight insult toward North Dakota.