Thursday’s Den: Random thoughts on Opening Day

Before we start, happy birthday to my grandmother; today was her birthday. Very nice lady. Not sure April 1 is a great day for a birthday.

13) Will be fun to see fans in the stands; hopefully by the end of this season, stands will be full again, but for now, hearing real people cheer will be enough. Cardboard cutouts are cool, but they don’t make any noise.

For the record, the best cardboard cutout last year was the one in Kansas City of Bernie Lomax, the main character from the Weekend at Bernie’s movies.

12) Houston Astros made the expanded playoffs LY, despite a 29-31 record; how will they bounce back this year? They won the 2017 World Series, lost the ’19 Series in seven games; this year they’ll be without Verlander (hurt), Springer (free agent to Toronto).

Last year, Jose Altuve hit .219 in the regular season, then hit 18-48 (.375) in playoffs, so we’ll see what this year brings.

11) Baseball has done a very smart thing, letting players watch video of their at-bats on iPads during the game. Players couldn’t do that last year- from what you hear on TV, it hampered some hitters, who are creatures of habit. Baseball wants more offense, right?

10) Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded; they won World Series LY for first time since 1988, and appear to be headed that way again this year, especially after adding pitching ace Trevor Bauer as a free agent.

Their TV guys have been fairly cocky this spring; on how many teams would David Price or Tony Gonsolin not be in the starting rotation?

9) Seattle and the Angels are two teams that will apparently use 6-man pitching rotations this season, somehow new to MLB. Teams in Japan do this; starters generally pitch once a week.

Teams are guarding against ramping up a pitcher’s innings too much from one year to the next; for instance, Seattle’s Marco Gonzales threw 69.1 IP LY; he threw 203 the year before. Doubtful they want him ramping back up to 203 until next season.

8) Steve Cohen is the new owner of the Mets; supposedly, Bobby Axelrod on Showtime’s Billions was modeled after Cohen, a wildly successful hedge fund trader. In other words, he is really, really rich.

Cohen’s Mets offered newly-acquired SS Francisco Lindor $320M for 10 years; Lindor’s people are asking for 12 years, $385M. We’ll see how that works out.

LATE UPDATE: Here’s how it worked out: Lindor signed a 10-year deal for $341M Wednesday night. 

7) Umpire Ángel Hernández lost his lawsuit against MLB alleging racial discrimination; hired as a big league umpire in 1993, the Cuban-born Hernandez alleged he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief.

From the judge who decided the case:
“The explicit reason MLB offers — that according to (Joe) Torre, Hernández ‘has not demonstrated the leadership ability and situation-management skills in critical high-pressure roles on a consistent basis’ — is presented in clear and specific terms.”

In other words, Hernandez should be glad he has a lucrative job that he doesn’t do very well.

6) Colorado Rockies traded star 3B Nolan Arenado to St Louis, and with SS Trevor Story headed for free agency, he could be the next to leave Denver, which can’t make fans in Denver happy.

Are the Rockies headed for a total rebuild? Colorado won 87-91 games in 2017/’18, but now they’re looking like a doormat.

5) Can Giancarlo Stanton/Aaron Judge stay healthy this season?
— Last two years, Stanton played a total of 41 regular season games.
— Last three years, Judge played 112-102-28 games.
— Stanton went 8-26 with six homers in seven playoff games LY; they need him for six months, not seven games.

4) Angels have lot of hitting, lot of star power; Trout, Pujols, Rendon, Ohtani, but pitching is important in baseball and the Angels don’t have much of that.

In 12 games as a major league pitcher, Ohtani has given up 26 runs in 53.1 IP; there is very little evidence that he’ll be a good major league pitcher.

3) Lot of hype around the Padres/White Sox; there is no doubt that 76-year Tony LaRussa’s return to the dugout will be fascinating to follow in Chicago.

LaRussa hasn’t managed since 2011; he’s won three World Series as a skipper, but the world is a different place than it was 10 years ago. He did a dugout interview during a spring training game a few days ago and it…….um…….didn’t go well.

Random LaRussa trivia; he pinch-hit for the A’s in their first-ever home game in Oakland, way back in 1968.

2) Baseball needs the universal DH, for a few reasons:
— They want more scoring; pitchers can’t hit
— They want more balls in play; DH’s put balls in play
— Pitchers get hurt hitting/running the bases. Not good.

1) I’ll be looking at how the new experimental rules work once the minor leagues get rolling in May; I like the anti-shifting rules, the pitch-clock thing isn’t necessary. The 3-batter minimum for relievers is a great rule.

I can’t stand the extra inning rules or 7-inning doubleheaders. Media guys like shorter extra innings, since it makes their job easier, but to me it cheapens the game.

As for the automated strike zone, no thank you!!! Just let umpires do their jobs, and hire better umpires than Angel Hernandez.

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.