Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Opening Day: 3-2 Starts the Season Off Right

Opening Day. The excitement built by a long winter finally comes to a boil. Everyone wants their team to win, and to look good doing it. Every fan in America wants to be able to continue to hold out hope for at least another night, week, month.

The Twins faced the Angels, and beat them 3-2.

Livan started the game, and made Gardy look pretty good for giving him the Opening Day Nod. He went 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits. I didn’t expect this kind of an outing, but as pointed out on a comment on this very blog not too long ago, a few of his many Opening Day Starts have been similar to this one.

I remember saying “Hell, if he gives us 7 innings and 2 runs every time, we’ll be in good shape!” about one of our pitchers last year. That was Ramon Ortiz. So … while I’m pleased with Livan’s outing, I’m not getting too excited about it.

Carlos Gomez went 2-3, with 1 BB, 2 SB, 2 R. That’s an excellent line, and he also did his part to make Gardy look good for giving him the leadoff/CF spot out of Spring Training. He led off the game with a double down the left field line, and scored on Mauer’s base hit to center. He also had a bunt base hit to the right side of the infield, reminiscent of Rod Carew.

To reward Gomez’s good day at the plate, Gardy had him stay on the field after the game was over to shag fly balls. I understand that this may have been the plan since before the game, to give him some practice catching fly balls under the Baseball-Colored-Sky in the Dome, but given his day at the plate and the numerous fly balls he caught during the game, perhaps it could have waited. (Thanks to FunBobby for the report from the stadium; otherwise I wouldn’t have known about Gomez’s Sisyphusian punishment.)

While Gomez had a good day at the park in his Twins debut, Torii Hunter didn’t have quite as good a time of it wearing a scarlet A for the first time. He went 0-4 despite repeatedly getting resounding, heart-warming standing ovations from 49,000+ of his former fans. It was good to see that Twins Fans still hold Torii close to their hearts, and it really threw Joe Morgan for a loop. I guess he was expecting the Chuck Knoblauch Reception.

Oh yes. One last thing regarding Gardy’s management of the lineup. Against the right handed Jered Weaver, he opted to leave Kubel on the bench in favor of Monroe. Before the game, Gardy said he hadn’t decided which was going to start, and would have to “look at the numbers again.” It was probably too much to hope that he meant that he’d see that Kubel batted .280/.336/.474/.810 against RHP last year, compared to .194/.247/.308/.555 for Monroe. Needless to say, a .255 difference in OPS is simply huge. Joe Morgan defended the decision by talking about the LRLRL order, and that if multiple lefties were in a row, then a left handed reliever could come on late in the game and shut them down.

Well, let’s see. Monroe’s 0-3 through the first several innings against right handed pitching went a long way towards making Gardy look like a dope. Then, in the 8th inning, Kubel came in to pinch hit against a right handed reliever, and popped a bloop double down the left field line. So he did his job, which was to make Gardy look like even more of a dope.

I fail to see how getting .555 OPS production out of the DH spot is a valid way to protect yourself from having to pinch hit for a lefty against a lefty late in the game. Especially when you prove your willingness to pinch hit your DH platoon late in the game. Could Kubel have gotten a hit off Weaver during tonight’s game, and perhaps driven in a couple of runs? His .810 OPS says he has a considerably better chance of it than Monroe did. Maybe Gardy will “look at the numbers again.” Then again, maybe he won’t.

It’s always good to get a win, and to start the season off on the right foot. But we’re going to have to get better production from the offense with men in scoring position. And Gardy’s going to have to learn that when it comes to OPS, higher is better!


8 Comments so far

  1. FunBobby April 1st, 2008 6:46 am

    I was impressed overall with the game last night. The crowd gave Hunter a nice ovation, but it was also nice to see him go 0-4 with a typical Torii DP. I don’t think Livan can pitch like that all season, but lets take what we can get. I think this will be a Ramon Ortiz situation. I believe he pitched well for about 5 starts, then the wheels came off. Harris and Young were good. I think Young needs a little work in the field, but that will come with time. It was good to see him shagging fly balls after the game with Gomez and a few other guys. They were just wearing t-shirts so i couldn’t tell who they were but it looked like Everett and Harris, which makes sense because they are all new. I read this morning that Everett hasn’t played in the dome since 1996 when he played for NC state and they played a game against the Gophers baseball team. I feel we should get used to Punto coming in for Lamb in the 9th, which is fine I guess. I just hope we don’t end up with lots of extra inning games.

    So, what are the odds that Gardy starts Punto tonight at second? I’d say pretty high. He also better start Kubel, he has some pretty impressive numbers against Garland. Something like 7-12 with three homers. Monroe is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-12 with 1 homer. So there are the numbers for ya, Gardy. Make the right call.

  2. sirsean April 1st, 2008 7:53 am

    Gardy does like to give his new guys fly balls at night in the Dome to get them used to it. Obviously I’ve never had to catch a fly ball in the Dome, and everyone makes a big deal out of how hard it is, so that probably makes sense.

    Lamb was definitely better than Harris last night. I was pretty amused that the entire offense was driven by the new guys last night. (Which of course means that the 2-4 spots in the lineup pretty much didn’t show up, which kind of sucks.)

    Man, those numbers are pretty extreme. Do you feel like putting up odds that Gardy remembers that higher numbers are better?

  3. Grizz April 1st, 2008 10:39 am

    I am convinced that if we had Kubel in the starting lineup we would have pushed across a few more runs and the game would have been much more relaxing as a fan. I also saw Gomez taking some extra flyballs after the game, however, whoever was hitting them hit 4 infield flies for every one he got to the outfield. I am excited at the thought of Gomez on base with Mauer getting a heavier dose of fastballs to help prevent Gomez from stealing. It would probably be advantageous of Mauer to begin swinging earlier in the count, especially when Gomez is on base, so he can sit on fastballs. I was very happy to see the tremendous bullpen in action last night, and hope they can continue to deliver this year as I think they will be more important than ever.

    Also, it was really fun yesterday after the game to grill out in the parking lot after the game and get in a huge snowball fight with a bunch of other people.

  4. sirsean April 1st, 2008 11:45 am

    Whenever Gomez gets on base, it should set up Mauer for a few extra fastballs early in the count. (I’m assuming that by the time Cuddyer’s up, Gomez will be at second base.)

    However, that means it’ll now be on Mauer to speed up his bat and generate a bit better contact than his typical soft ground balls. I mean, it’s great that he makes a lot of contact; the problem is that not very much of it is good contact. With game changing speed on the bases, I want to see Mauer tee off on a couple of fastballs.

    And Cuddyer put on his best impression of Koskie; namely, watching as meaty fastballs crossed right over the heart of the plate for strike three. That is NOT what you want out of your #3 hitter.

    Kubel needs to be in the lineup. He’s the team’s best hitter behind Morneau/Mauer/Young, and keeping him out in favor of Craig F’ing Monroe is pretty dumb.

    Grilling after the game. Snowball fights. And here I am, stuck in Chicago like some kind of idiot.

  5. IowaWigman April 2nd, 2008 12:24 pm

    No comments on the Punto substitution late in the game Monday night? With bases loaded, I really don’t see the point and having Punto pinch run for Lamb at first base. Gardy just had to find a way to get Punto in there.

  6. sirsean April 2nd, 2008 12:28 pm

    I don’t think it’s a big deal to pinch run Punto in that situation. As a utility infielder, his role is to come in as a defensive replacement late in games for guys who aren’t that good in the field. (Like Lamb.) After getting on base, Lamb wasn’t going to bat again during the game, thus Punto would be in the field in the next inning. Since Punto’s got considerably more speed than Lamb, why not sub him in a bit earlier?

    I think it makes perfect sense. Not much mismanagement there.

  7. IowaWigman April 2nd, 2008 7:52 pm

    I just don’t see the need to add more speed when there are two runners in front of you. Maybe my opinion on Punto is clouding my judgment here.

    Without looking up the fielding statistics for each, is Punto that much better of a fielder than Lamb?

  8. sirsean April 2nd, 2008 8:26 pm

    Lamb is pretty bad in the field. Defensively replacing him makes a lot of sense.

    Even though there were 2 guys on base ahead of him, I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with pinch running in that situation if he’s coming on defensively in the next half-inning.

    Look at it this way: at least he didn’t pinch hit!

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