Some things to read while getting a new place for autographs.
It was a beautiful day for baseball at Miller Park yesterday, with the roof open for the first time ever on Opening Day and an opener-record 45,808 fans in attendance. If you were there, you can try to pick yourself out in the Journal Sentinel's super panorama.
Unfortunately, the Brewers weren't able to continue the fun. In what Tom Haudricourt called "an out-of-sync day," the Brewers fell behind early and stayed there all day. It was a pretty good day for Carlos Gomez, though, who had four hits (including his first home run), and stole a base. Gomez is now 12-for-12 in stolen base attempts since reporting to camp this spring.
Yesterday's most surprising news might have been Ken Macha's decision to start Jim Edmonds in right field and bat him #5 while benching Corey Hart. Edmonds didn't do much of anything to make the move look like a good idea, but Macha said Edmonds will start again on Wednesday against Aaron Cook. Edmonds has faced Cook 12 times since the start of the 2006 season, and gone 7-for-12 with two home runs. Hart will be in the lineup tonight against Greg Smith.
I didn't see it, but Walkoff Walk says MLB Network spent several minutes talking about Ken Macha as a manager on the hot seat after last night's game, and cites the decision to start Edmonds in the #5 spot yesterday as a reason for it. I have a couple of thoughts on it:
- First of all, I've heard several people suggest that Edmonds should have been pinch hit for instead of being allowed to face a lefty late in the game. In theory that's probably true, but in reality I'm not sure it works: Of the five position players on the bench yesterday, four were left handed and the other one was Corey Hart. I wouldn't have been all that excited to see Hart batting in a key situation at this point.
- Second, though, yesterday gave us a pretty good glimpse at what will happen fairly often if Edmonds consistently bats behind Prince Fielder: With two lefties back-to-back in the lineup, the Rockies were able to bring in a situational lefty to face them both. Fielder hits lefties relatively well, but Edmonds does not.
Alcides Escobar also didn't have the 2010 debut many of us would have hoped for from him. Keith Law was unimpressed with Escobar's approach at the plate, batting in the #8 spot. It'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to hitting there: He's not exactly known for his patience, and might not see a lot of strikes with the pitcher due up behind him.
Yovani Gallardo wasn't terrible, but he wasn't great yesterday either, allowing four runs (three earned) in seven innings. He was one of nine starters to make their first Opening Day start in 2010: Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies was one of the other eight.
Elsewhere in Opening Day notes:
- Jordan Schelling of MLB.com talked to Lew Krausse and Jerry McNertney, who threw out and received yesterday's first pitch.
- With the loss, Cool Standings downgraded the Brewers' playoff chances to 16.8%.
- Ubaldo Jimenez is leading the vote for FanGraphs' Star of the Game. Carlos Gomez is currently second.
- Baseball Brew notes a pretty wide collection of former Brewers working for the Rockies.
The Polish Sausage won the first official Sausage Race. KENS5.com has the full story.
Off the field, the Brewers aren't writing off the possibility of signing Prince Fielder to a long term deal. Doug Melvin told reporters yesterday that extension talks with Fielder and Scott Boras will continue into the season, and they don't feel the conversations are hurting Fielder's focus at this point.
Meanwhile, that ominous rumbling you hear off in the distance might be Jeff Suppan getting closer to returning. Suppan pitched a simulated game on Sunday, called the outing a success and told Adam McCalvy he expects to be ready to return from the DL on April 10.
Or, if you attended opening night at Ryan Braun's new restaurant, that ominous rumbling sound might be coming from somewhere else.
In the minors:
- The Appleton Post-Crescent has a preview of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who flew into Milwaukee yesterday and will be in Appleton today to prepare for a Thursday home opener.
- Chris Mehring has a look at the Rattlers' projected rotation. With eight starting pitchers on the roster, Eric Arnett and Efrain Nieves are the only Rattler starters that haven't been penciled into a "tandem" system. Nick Bucci, Del Howell, Jake Odorizzi, Damon Krestalude, Kyle Heckathorn and Maverick Lasker will split starts.
- The Timber Rattlers are holding their annual Fan Fest today at Fox Cities Stadium. Admission is free but, as the cast of Rattler Radio notes, the event is "weather permitting." It's clearing up a bit as I write this, but it's rained a fair amount in Appleton this morning and might rain again.
- Elsewhere in the system, Stephen C. Smith of SpaceCoastBaseball.com will be broadcasting select Brevard County Manatee games on the internet again this season: The first broadcast is Thursday night when the Manatees take on Daytona, and at least 15 games are planned.
- At The Old Ball Game has the "big questions" facing the 2010 Nashville Sounds.
In predictions, projections, previews and rankings:
- Disciples of Uecker previewed the Brewer shortstops.
- The Brew Town Beat predicts the Brewers will win 87 games.
- Jonah Keri is picking the Brewers to finish second, and makes the case for picking them as a sleeper team.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs also thinks the Brewers will make the NL Central closer than many might expect.
- Rob Neyer is picking the Brewers to win 80 games and finish tied for third.
- Baseball Digest Daily's consensus pick has the Brewers finishing third.
- Four of six contributors at The Baseball Analysts are picking the Brewers to finish third.
- Baseball Beat has the Brewers finishing fourth.
It's a relatively quiet day for transactions:
Red Sox: Agreed to a four year, $68 million contract extension with Josh Beckett, locking him up through 2014.
In yesterday's Mug, I mentioned a USA Today report showing that the average major league salary had fallen 17% this year. That turned out to be inaccurate - the average salary actually went up 1%. Oops.
Elsewhere in baseball economics, we have this note: Spring training games in Arizona and Florida drew an average of 7596 fans in 2010, up from 7190 in 2009. The overall attendance numbers were down a bit, mainly because spring training was longer last season with the WBC.
Even on Opening Day, the Cubs and Cardinals found something to complain about:
- There was a relatively clear missed call in the sixth inning of yesterday's Cubs-Braves game, as Nate McLouth made a diving non-catch that was ruled an out, and led to a double play. Cubs.com and the Daily Herald both have extended complaints about it. Lost in all the whining is the fact that the Cubs lost 16-5, so the call probably didn't matter in the long run. Craig Calcaterra makes a fair point about it, though: It wouldn't be hard for replay to be used to get calls like this one right.
- Chris Carpenter, meanwhile, is complaining about the condition of the baseballs in Cincinnati, which he says were not properly prepared. The Cardinals won yesterday, 11-6.
Meanwhile, the 1-0 Pirates are enjoying a rare first place experience.
The news is pretty good for the Pirates at the moment, but not nearly as good for the Astros. Lance Berkman, who opened the season on the DL after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in March, had fluid drained from the knee again yesterday, and underwent another cortisone shot.
If you're looking for something to look forward to and tonight's Brewers-Rockies rematch isn't doing it for you, Rob Neyer has something that might work: He says the Cubs have potential for a major meltdown, with Lou Piniella managing a team of veterans that may or may not listen to him.
If you watched the pre-game ceremonies yesterday, you probably heard Brewer fans boo Jeff Suppan (although it's possible some were saying "Soup"). Mets fans took it one step farther, booing the team training staff before their home opener yesterday.
On this day in 1982, snowstorms and unseasonably cold temperatures led to the postponement of seven home openers, including Milwaukee's. The Brewers wouldn't open the season until April 9 in Toronto, but things worked out all right in the end.
Happy birthday today to former Seattle Pilot and 1970-71 Brewer Marty Pattin, who turns 67.
That's all I've got for you today. Drink up.