Sunday, April 17, 2005

Wile E. Coyote

...That's who Vinny Castilla is starting to remind me of.

Remember the old Road Runner cartoons when Mr. Coyote would run off the cliff, and be suspended in midair? Every now and then, he'd stay there hovering until the Road Runner passed him a book on the Law of Gravity. Wile would flip through it, learn something, look down, then meet his fate -- the oh-so-amusing puff of white smoke and debris when he impacted the canyon floor.

Vinny's the same way, and no one better tell the old guy that RFK is not in the mountains. What else could possibly explain the on-base binge the guy's on now? Small sample sizes, be damned! This is a guy who hit .218/ .281/ .493 on the road last year, and those numbers were marked improvements over his typical away performances.

The SeƱor Statesman is now hitting .393/ .452/ .786 on the year. Obviously he can't keep that up, but is it possible that this represents a change in his abilities, or the circumstances surrounding his performance? Better contacts? Better hitting background? Or is it just a fluke over 28 ABs? If I asked this question at Primer, I know what the answer would be, but I'm keeping an open mind. If the guy really is having things go his way and he can pump out a .270/ .320/ .500 season, which he has done many years ago, he'll be worth every penny of his contract.

Defensively, since that first foul up in the first game, he's been great. He has great reflexes, and an accurate arm, even if it's not a flashy cannon.

Just keep up rackin' those extra-base hits! And please, for the love of the NL Pennant, do NOT let the ol' guy know that we're at sea level. Please!

--John Patterson looked sharp last night. His fastball doesn't have a ton of movement on it, but just enough to keep hitters off balance. He's got a late-breaking slider that really looks a lot like a cutter, because the break is small and relatively late. But, his best pitch is that nasty curve ball. It's got a sharp downward break. It's not the big looping style like Barry Zito, but it's just as effective. Time and time again last night, hitters took that badboy for a strike right down the middle of the plate while their knees involuntarily buckled. It was a beauty to watch.

--Frank Robinson had the best managed game he's had and the worst, all at once. Some would quibble with Frank pulling Patterson for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 7th. While it would've been nice to see St. Patty go for the CG, with the way our bullpen pitches, most leads would hold up. It was nice to see Frank go for the jugular.

Along those lines, THANK YOU for pinch-hitting for Guzman. It's a move that should be done in ALL late-inning situations. He's just not hitting now and it's not worth losing the game to stroke his overpaid ego. Besides, you owe it to the other 24 people on the roster. Although Carlos Baerga didn't come through (And I'd argue that Carlos might not necessarily be an upgrade anyway), it's the right move to make. Sometimes the right decision doesn't work. But that doesn't mean you should stop making it.

It was also interesting to see Frank make the visit to the mound in the 9th when Luis Ayala was out there lobbing up pitches in the general vicinity of the plate. That's traditionally the task of the pitching coach, but Frank wasn't out there to correct his mechanics, just to tell him to throw the effing ball over the effing plate. He took the lesson to heart apparently, because Luis Gonzalez got a BP fastball, which he crushed.

But... to the bad... Why, Frank, why are you bringing in your top setup man in a 9-run game? If there was a situation for Zach Day or Antonio Osuna, that's it. Let those guys work out the funk they're in when it's not going to cost the team.

Then, when Ayala struggles and still with a 6-run lead, you bring in the team's top lefty setup guy? Further, you let him bat in the 8th so he can pitch to one batter in the 9th? If anyone has a good explanation for that, let me know! (I do know that Ayala was probably in there because he had warmed up, and many times like to bring in a player then, instead of letting him rot on the bench with a warmed-up arm. There's a distasteful joke I could make there, but I'll hold off on it... for now!)

So now he brings in Day. And when Day starts stinking, who does he turn to? The closer, who's pitched in 17 of the last 12 games. Frank, you do realize that even if the D-backs had hit a Grand Slam in that situation that they'd STILL be trailing by two runs? Ugh.

We know that Frank likes to manage with his gut. Sometimes he appears to be brilliant because of it, but then, at times, he looks like a horse's ass. (And a half asleep horse's ass at that!)

--We also saw another Troy Glaus homer killed by the winds. The announcers kept saying how the winds were blowing out, but they're half right. The winds sweep in towards home from the top of the stadium, and probably swirl back towards the outfield once they enter the stadium. Because of this, high, towering homers, like the two that Glaus hit, hit that current of air and are knocked straight down. Liners, like the Chad Tracy and Gonzalez shots might be helped a little bit, because they stay under the current, and probably receive a little bit of push from the swirl.

--The Nationals walked four times, always a good sign. And notably, Jose Guillen received his first walk of the year, an IBB, but it still counts!

--I'll be there in my regular seats today, for the first time -- the front row of section 403. I'm way down the line, but I was sitting further out for the opener and was amazed at how good the seats were. I'm rooting for a Lance Cormier sighting. My booing voice has recovered from the Vazquez-induced trauma!


  • I'll just be listening to this one on the radio while I rip down the rusty chain link fence in my backyard. I got halfway done yesterday!

    By Blogger Yuda, at 4/17/2005 11:02 AM  

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