Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Watched: 5-20-08 Smorgasbord

As I looked through the schedule yesterday I realized that there really wasn't one game that stood out from the others. I wanted to see Cole Hamels pitch, I was curious to see how the Royals and Red Sox would respond to the no-hitter yesterday, the return of Alex Rodriguez might be interesting - so I watched them all simultaneously. It is pretty amazing how much you can catch when you flip between eight or so games at a time. Here is a sampling of my observations on the evening:

Orioles at Yankees - I flipped to this channel just as Derek Jeter was getting hit in the hand by Daniel Cabrera. He was taken out of the game (x-rays show no broken bones) immediately. What was striking was the crowd. The Yankees were already down by nine runs and have been struggling with injuries all season. I think every Yankee fan feared the worst. The crowd wasn't silent, it was just filled with quiet murmuring. I think the fans know that they are on the brink of losing this season.

I missed it later on when the Yankees retaliated and a brawl almost ensued. A-Rod also hit a homerun in his return (I didn't see that either).

Seattle at Detroit - This game was ugly early, with Carlos Silva giving up seven runs in the first four innings. I think there is an interesting comparison between Carlos Silva and Gil Meche. The Mariners had Meche and could have resigned him in 2007 for 5 years and $55M (well, that's what he signed for with the Royals, the Mariners probably could have had him for less), but instead let him go and then signed Silva before this season for 4 years and $48M. They are both 29 years old and both are struggling somewhat this season, but they should provide an interesting side-by-side comparison over the life of their contracts.

In a similar vein, who was the last big money free agent that really performed up to the value of the contract for his team? Alex Rodriguez with Texas (then why would they trade him)? Manny Ramirez with Boston (he was placed on waivers a couple of years ago)? I can think of a lot more big money free agents that have busted since they signed with another team than guys that were successful (here's a fun list: Barry Zito, Gary Matthews, Jr., Jason Schmidt, Carl Pavano, Juan Pierre, Mike Hampton, Andruw Jones - so far, etc.).

Kansas City at Boston - Speaking of Meche, he pitched tonight against Boston and did a fine job. He lasted seven innings and struck out eight, while giving up two runs on five hits. Unfortunately, the Royals offense sputtered again - at least they got a few hits this time, but they only scored one run and Meche gets the loss. This is one of the games that I flipped to for a while, but almost nothing happened while I watched. It happens, but on the other hand...

Chicago at Houston - ...sometimes you just get lucky: I flipped to this game just as Ryan Dempster walked Geoff Blum to load the bases, bringing Hunter Pence to the plate. Pence drilled a pitch the other way over the rightfield wall for a grand slam and the only runs that Houston would need to win. I know I'm not the only one to mention this, but is Hunter Pence the most awkward player in the major leagues? He is tremendously athletic, but he just looks odd doing everything.

Washington at Philadelphia - This is the game that I ended up watching the most. Cole Hamels reminds me a lot of Johan Santana in that his changeup is just a devastating pitch. His fastball is in the low 90's, but it must look like it is 110 after he throws one of his disappearing 81mph changeups. He shut down Washington for seven innings and struck out eleven.

The other thing I couldn't help noticing in this game was Wily Mo Pena. He didn't do anything spectacular in the game (he doubled in four at bats), but he looks like a linebacker. He is listed on as being 6'3" and 268lbs. That might even be a little heavy for a linebacker. But he isn't fat at all (unlike his teammate Dmitri Young, who looks like he just swallowed a wheel from a pitching machine - has him listed at 298lbs and he's every bit of that). In fact, you could probably put Pena at strong side linebacker, Elijah Dukes at middle linebacker (6'2" 241lbs) and Ryan Zimmerman at weak side linebacker (6'3" 228lbs) and you'd have a linebacking corps as big and athletic as the one that plays for the Redskins.

One final thing from this game: what happened to Christian Guzman? The Nationals signed him in 2005 and he was horrifyingly bad, putting up a .219/.260/.314 line. In fact, he had only had one decent (and partial - 118 games played) year in his whole career and that was in 2001 (.302/.337/.477). His career numbers are .265/.303/.382. Last year he played in only 46 games, but played well in those games (.328/.380/.426) and so far this year he has played in 45 games and put up a line of .311/.333/.459. Who is this guy?

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