Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
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All Better Now
by Derek Smart
I'll cop to being a little mopey yesterday. After being as jacked up as I was for things to start - and if you could have seen me at 2:00 on Monday jumping up and down in my living room in my Big-Red-C-Hat and Kerry-Wood-Fanboy jersey, giggling as giddily as a cartoonified nitrous oxide victim, you'd have a much better idea of the goon you're dealing with here - it was difficult to rebound from the day's ultimate disappointment.
Well, I've recovered and feeling excited again - after all, it's a brand new month, the horrors of our winless March washed away like so many melted snowflakes - and while it's a little late to be doing such a thing, I do have a couple observations from the opener I feel compelled to get out there.
Known quantity here, but Ryan Theriot clearly doesn't belong in the leadoff spot. This isn't even a conclusion needing input from this season for viability, last year's performance in general being reason enough. Still, even discounting the pathos of Monday, consider this: There's a decent possibility that against left-handers the leadoff man will be right-handed Reed Johnson, and Ryan Theriot will be hitting in the eighth spot. This, despite the fact Theriot himself is right-handed. If you can't even hold down the gig when going against a pitcher you should have a platoon advantage against, that just means the gig shouldn't be yours to begin with.
Encouraging Thing #1: Apparently, Fukudome is actually pronounced SOO-per-man.
Encouraging Thing #2: Z was completely on, and in a game situation where he has typically had issues that one could relate to a state of over-excitement. The key here was not just that he was throwing strikes, but that he was keeping the ball down. Yes, he had very few ground balls, but he also only got hit hard twice - during Cory Hart's first at bat when Felix Pie needed to get acquainted with the center field wall to make the out, and on Bill Hall's double.
From what I've seen, Z's problems come when he gets the ball up in the zone, moving more side to side than up and down, allowing the hitters more of an opportunity to get square on him. I didn't see anything wander into that danger zone all day, and when that's the case - mark my words - it's going to be a long day for the opposing offense.
Encouraging Thing #3: Carlos Marmol had a lackluster spring. It took one pitch to make that information moot. Not only did Corey Hart look like he didn't know what was going on, despite the fact that the ball he was thrown was right down the pike, the other three hitters Marmol faced looked equally overmatched. Assuming the other two gents at the end of the bullpen can get themselves straightened out post-haste, this team has a chance to have a lot of 6 inning games.
I'm getting all jumpy-happy for today's tilt, although not being at home, I won't be looking or acting as silly. Hopefully, though, some of you still are. This should be a fun year, and we should all be ready to enjoy it to the fullest.