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Monday, April 02, 2007

Reflections on Opening Day

While I'd recorded it on my XM-Radio and began listening to it on the bus ride home tonight, I was delighted to discover that the game was carried on WGN, and TiVo, in its immense wisdom, recorded it or me. Which meant I got to watch opening day tonight on TV! Some thoughts:
  • I really like the new uniforms. I thought I'd miss the black, but I don't. The font is a lot of fun (I'm going to have to snag it for my banner logo), the piping looks clean, and the pure red vented batting helmets--while not something I want to wear around town--seem a bit more "right" than the red & black helmets ever did.
  • I love Adam Dunn when he's awesome.
  • Griffey looks fantastic in right field. I'm excited about this new outfield defense we have now.
  • Ryan Freel's an animal. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes he just goes ape.
  • Harang looked darn good. I was saving this for my upcoming spring training review (I'm behind!), but Harang's BABIP in the spring was 0.433 (very unlucky) and his FIP (predicts ERA from peripherals) was 3.74. His strikeout rate was still a nice 7.7 k/9, his walk rate was a brilliant 0.7 bb/9. His homer rate was a somewhat high 1.40 hr/9, but homers can be somewhat random events--and one less would bring him down to a very average 1.05 hr/9. So don't worry about that 6.66 spring training ERA--not that anyone is anymore after 7 innings with one unearned run allowed.
  • Ross was scrapping a bit. I do expect him to decline a bit this year, though I still think he'll be a hitter who is well above replacement level.
  • How about Saarloos (he of the 3.9 k/9 last season) starting the year with a strikeout? Breakout season? :)
  • Encarnacion made a couple of really nice plays. I really hope he can be at least an average defender this year--if he is, our infield defense might actually be above average. :)
  • Pretty neat to see the standing ovation for Hamilton. That was an amazing moment and really made me proud to be from Cincinnati. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those of you who were there. I wonder whether someone with his history would have gotten this kind of reception 20 years ago. It seems like there's finally been a realization that drug addiction is a disease in this country.
  • Mr. Redlegs is kinda scary in real life. I was more comfortable with him when he was just a cartoon.
  • Overall, a heck of a lot more fun than last year's opening day.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images/Thomas Whitte, AP/Tom Uhlman, and AP/Al Behrman


  1. J,
    I was at the game and had some great seats 7 rows beyond the left field outfield wall. Few things.
    1. Adam Dunns second home runs was an absolute monster of a HR.
    2. Josh Hamiltons ovation was awesome. Im telling you I could see the guys smile 360 feet away, it was that big.
    3. Mr RedLegs is scary in real life.... those eyes freak me out. With that said, I hope he takes that huge bat he has and kills Gapper, who I hate and has nothing to do with the Reds. If we need a big stupid friendly mascot ripoff, can we at least rip off the Western Kentucky Hilltopper?
    4. Typical Ryan Freel in CF. He still cant read the ball off the bat. He takes bad routes. I am confident Griffey would have caught the ball that Freel dove for in front of him and didnt get. I had a perfect view of it. Freel stood for a second, had a burst of speed, studdered for a step, then tried to burst forward again then dove. Griffey would have caught that ball. Not that I want Griffey in CF, but Freel is not the answer, just simply the best option right now with Deno down.
    5. I love Edwin Encarnacion even though his bat didn't look so good yesterday at times.
    6. For first impressions of the season, Ross looked lost at the plate.
    7. Last years opening day was miserable. 40 degrees+40 mph wind gusts+ no shelter from the wind in my seats last year+16-7 loss.... Man did God give me a do over on Opening Day this year.

  2. I'm envious! :) But at least I got to watch it on TV. I thought I was going to settle for radio (forgot to check tv listings).

    Re: Freel. I won't make excuses for him on that play, but both PMR and ZR rate him as about a full standard deviation above the mean in terms of range (fielding review is almost done, hopefully can be pushed out tonight). So somehow (last year), his speed could make up for his bad reads and routes.

  3. I agree that Freel in the long run will play above average defense in CF, but I think that is all due to his speed. His defensive instincts are horrible. Like I said, he is the best option we have currently (unlike some others I have seen, I am not tossing Josh Hamilton a starting job based on spring training). The one thing I have noticed watching Freel a lot is that he often misreads balls that land in front of him, and not so much ones that go over his head. Good part is, ones that land in front of you are singles.... the ones that go over your head, not so much.

  4. Agree with everything, 95%. I don't want Freel to last the whole year in center. I want Hamilton to take over mid-season and let Freel be supersub, cuz he sure made some bonehead moves yesterday, which he is prone to do.

    I soooo wish there were a game today! I'm still pumped about yesterday!

  5. Freel also made a nice rangy catch later in the ballgame.

    It may not always be pretty, but however he does it, he was one of the top center fielders in baseball last year defensively. I have the difference between a year-long performance by Freel and a year-long performance by Griffey, based on last years' data, at about 70 plays. That's a HUGE improvement, possibly on the order of ~3 wins.

    Whether Hamilton can hit and field well enough to replace Freel out there remains to be seen. I'm sure he'll get plenty of chances, as neither Freel or Griffey should play more than ~5-6 games a week. -j