Games » Detroit TigersAug5
A leadoff walk scores
I’ve done the math and lead off walks score 127% of the time. (Math, as anyone in the metrics community will tell you, might not be my strong suit.) Let’s just say lead off walks score a lot, so when Aaron Crow walked Andy Dirks to lead off the 10th I said uh-oh. (I’m pretty sharp that way.) Then when Crow bounced a pitch and Dirks moved to second, I thought. “It would be a shame for the Tigers to score the winning run with just one hit in an inning.”
Which is just what they did.
Ned Yost said Crow was rusty, Crow said he wasn’t. Ned said he had trouble with his slider, Crow said it was his fastball. Whoever was right, it’s hard enough to win in the major leagues without helping the other team and the Royals didn’t get away with it Friday night.
Still a pretty good game, though.
I remember when I was a prospect
There were about 20 media people surrounding Johnny Giavotella at his locker before the game started. When the media clusters around one guy, sometimes I’ll listen and sometimes I’ll go find someone else to talk to. I know the media cluster has to be done, every news organization needs a Johnny Giavotella story, but I figure 20 people are getting the same information and since I don’t have to cover anything, maybe I’ll go a different direction.
So I look down in the corner and there was Chris Getz watching the scene. I walked over and said, “Feeling lonely?”
Getzie started laughing and said, “I remember when I was a prospect.” Chris said every guy in the room had gone through the process: being the hot new player that everybody wanted to talk to. (Even Eric Hosmer was getting ignored in favor of Johnny.) Later, I told Giavotella I knew it must be a whirlwind of new faces and names and I’d catch up to him later, after things died down.
So I went to talk to Kevin Seitzer instead. “What’s Giavotella bring to the table?” The short version of Kevin’s reply goes like this: gap to gap hitter, short to the ball (which means once he’s got his foot down and ready to go, there’s no wasted movement) and when he gets his pitch he smokes it. Then Seitz said something I would never have thought of: Johnny’s got short arms.
“Hard to get inside on him?”
“You can get inside on anybody.”
“OK, harder to get inside on him?”
Kevin said he’s go along with that. During the game I could see what he meant. Johnny looked short and quick to the ball, appeared to run well and showed some agility avoiding a takeout slide on a double play. A very nice debut.
The stuff I don’t know
Once people find out I have a baseball website, they’ll ask questions like, “What do you think of that new second baseman in the Reds system?” The real answer is: I don’t know, but sometimes I’ll start trying to answer anyway. It’s flattering to be considered an expert and the fact that you don’t know what you’re talking about, doesn’t always get in the way.
And that brings us to Mr. Giavotella.
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about him and have come close to offering opinions, but the truth is: I don’t have a clue. I can look at his numbers and repeat a couple of things I’ve heard, but until I see him play and play a lot I’m talking out of my rear end.
The strength (I hope) of this website is that I actually watch these people play every game. I then get input from the players and coaches to interpret what I’ve seen. Once I get beyond that, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
So if you catch me going on and on about the virtues or limitations of a guy I haven’t seen play and play a lot, call BS on me. Because that’s what it is.
Two days ago people were already talking about Justin Verlander’s start tonight. I guess the guy’s the real deal because hitters are very aware of his turn in the rotation. Mike Moustakas was talking about his struggles here in the big leagues and said nothing in Triple A prepares you for Justin Verlander.
Hitters know he’s generally going to be dealing and you might get one pitch to hit, if you’re lucky. Look for guys to be swinging early in the count if they think they’ve got something hittable. Because they’re probably not going to get two hittable pitches.
Speaking of Moose
He walked past me the other day and said, “Lee, I’m going searching.” He was headed into batting cages so I knew just what he meant. His swing was off and he was going to search for an answer. Later we talked and I said, “You know you’re only one swing away.”
Yup, he knew. Sometimes you stand at the plate and think, “I have no idea how to hit anymore, I’m totally lost.” Then you’ll take one swing, the right swing, and it’s back. The search is over. Mike said he’d probably taken 600 swings in his two days off. (Go down in your basement, find your old bat and take 50, just to know how tiring it is.) Maybe he found something in those 600 swings because in between the Ks on Friday night, he smoked two balls, one for a hit.
As Clint Hurdle once said to me, “You don’t get in trouble in one day, you don’t get out in one day.” Let’s hope Moose is a day closer.
After a hot spell like we just went through, the infield plays faster. The ground is harder and the grass sparser. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this before yesterday, but it makes sense. The starters are fielding balls during BP so consciously, or subconsciously, they’re probably adjusting to the speed of the ball on the playing surface.
OK, baseball is always coming up with new terms and here’s the latest: when a guy is confident at the plate he now says he’s “feeling sexy.” Chris Getz laid that on me and then Mitch Maier repeated it later. I told Mitch I’d never felt “sexy” at the plate, but I was used to “not tonight.”