April 8, 2003

Godzilla Attacks

When I was doing my various predictions for the 2003 season a couple weeks ago, I said this:

"Hideki Matsui will prove all of the idiots that say he won't hit for power in the United States completely wrong."

I hate it when I'm right.

After being snowed out on Monday, the Twins played the Yankees yesterday and were hanging around for a while until Joe Mays loaded the bases and Hideki Matsui cleared them with one swing. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Bronx faithful in your first home game, huh?

After starting out 3-0, the Twins are now 3-4 and still have two games left against New York. I'd say there is about a 75% chance they will be 3-6 at the end of this series and, if that happens, I will be in full panic-mode for sure.

When you expect to be in a tight division race all season long and you have the incredible fortune of getting out to a 3 game lead after 3 games played, you simply cannot lose your next 6 games, especially when 3 are at home. Chicago beat Cleveland yesterday, making them 4-3 after an 0-3 start. They are now a game up on the Twins.

It's still extraordinarily early and Toronto and the Yankees are certainly both good teams, but when you get a break like the team you are fighting losing 3 straight against the Royals to start the year...well, I am pretty much in semi panic-mode already, I guess.

When you give up 7 runs you aren't gonna win a lot of ballgames, but the Twins offense, regardless of their pitching, has been pathetic thus far.

They aren't taking any pitches, they aren't being selective, they aren't walking and they are hitting into double-plays left and right. After 7 games they have hit into 8 double-plays, which works out to 185 per 162 games played. The Twins hit into 121 all last year. It wouldn't be such a big deal if they were also turning lots of double-plays, but the Twins have yet to turn one this whole season!

The Twins had some chances to score yesterday.

Cristian Guzman singled in the first inning...then Corey Koskie hit into a double-play.

They scored a run in the 4th and had runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Matthew LeCroy hit a grounder to 3rd base and Koskie got thrown out trying to score. Then Doug Mienkiewicz grounded out to second to end the inning.

In the 5th, A.J. Pierzynski reached 1st on an Erick Almonte error. The next batter, Luis Rivas, grounded into a double-play.

In the top of the 6th, they had 2 runs in and runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs...Michael Cuddyer struck out.

When Minnesota isn't facing the worst offense in baseball history, the pitching has been awful. They have given up 26 runs and 8 homers in 4 non-Detroit games.

This is still a good team and I certainly am against over-reacting to a few early season games, but I think a lot of people came into this season thinking the AL Central would be a cakewalk, but it certainly isn't looking that way.

The pitchers are serving up long balls like crazy, the hitters are hacking away at anything and everything and no one seems able to get a base hit with anyone on base.

In fact, no one seems to be able to get a hit...period. Check out these batting averages:

Cristian Guzman - .240

Doug Mientkiewicz - .231

Torii Hunter - .174

A.J. Pierzynski - .174

Michael Cuddyer - .167

Matthew LeCroy - .143

Denny Hocking - .125

Luis Rivas - .118

Luis Rivas...ah hell, I'll get to him another day. Actually though, I had a sudden thought that maybe I should take suggestions for a nickname for Luis. He is a frequent subject on this blog, but it is no fun just calling him Luis Rivas...we need something that captures the true essence of him as a player. So send me your best nicknames. Some things to consider:

1) He stinks at offense.

2) He stinks at defense.

3) Members of the media and the majority of casual fans think that he is great defensively for whatever reason.

Now, I don't want to get into nasty name-calling or anything like that, but I know I have a very clever group of readers and I'm sure you guys can come up with a funny/clever nickname for Luis. So, Email me your best Rivas nicknames.

As for the Twins, we'll see what happens today and tomorrow against the Yankees, but I will be shocked if they win a game. And it doesn't get any easier, because after New York they head to Toronto for 3 games. This team could very easily start out 3-0 with a 3 game lead after 3 games and end up 4-8 or even 3-9.

Okay, enough with the bad news. There is something very cool that happened this past week. It seems as though this blog has been added to Yahoo.com's directory of "Baseball News and Media" websites. If you click this link, you will see "Aaron's Baseball Blog" listed directly above ESPN.com and MLB.com, which is both very strange and incredibly cool at the same time. I've been getting a few extra hits every day from the new Yahoo listing, so that's nice, although I am not sure how/why it suddenly got added to the directory.

In fact, thanks to the Yahoo listing and another, unknown (to me at least) source of visitors, this website has gone over the 55,000 visitor mark, just a week after it went over the 50,000 mark. And if anyone knows where this site was mentioned (I am assuming it was not a website, because I am able to track website "referrals"), please let me know.

Yesterday we had a little fun with the early season stats, but I think I have something that beats all that stuff I talked about...

Ivan Rodriguez walked in all 5 of his plate appearances last night, producing what is definitely one of my favorite boxscore lines of all-time:

0   0   0   0   5   0

5 walks ties the all-time major league record for a 9-inning game. The most amazing thing about it? Prior to last night, Ivan Rodriguez had walked a total of 305 times in 6,087 career plate appearances, or once every 20 plate appearances.

If you wanna get really statistical about it (which I usually do)...

Among all catchers in the history of baseball, Ivan Rodriguez has walked the 2nd fewest times of anyone (compared to league-average). Here's the official leadboard for this very special category:

Player               BB    LGAV     DIF

Manny Sanguillen 223 488 265
Ivan Rodriguez 304 558 254
Benito Santiago 393 646 253
Sandy Alomar Jr. 189 402 213

If you're confused by those stats, here is what it basically means: Ivan Rodriguez has walked 304 times in his career. If he walked at a "league-average" rate for his entire career, he would have walked 558 times, meaning his walk total is 254 fewer than league-average over his career. Makes sense, right?

You know, lots of people (including myself) make a big deal of how special it is that we are able to watch 4 of the greatest pitchers in baseball history right now, but I think I have overlooked the fact that we are also able to watch three of the hackiest hacking catchers that ever hacked the earth!

Pudge probably had a pretty decent shot at taking over the all-time lead in this prestigious category, but he may very well have ruined any chance he had with that ridiculously patient game last night. He should really be ashamed of himself and he deserves to be passed on the list by Benito Santiago, who has had the good sense to swing away! this year and has walked a total of 2 times in 7 games.

(Thanks to Lee Sinins' always amazing Sabermetric Encyclopedia for the stats)

Baseball really is an amazing game.


Today's picks:

Kansas City (Affeldt) -140 over Detroit (Bonderman)

New York (Mussina) -190 over Minnesota (Lohse)

Chicago (Garland) -135 over Cleveland (Anderson)

Boston (Fossum) -130 over Toronto (Sturtze)

Total to date: - $55

W/L record: 15-15 (Pretty good day yesterday. I went 3-1, including a +180 win with Jake Peavy and the Padres, and had one game called on account of snow)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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