Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Training: part 5

Today's game against the "Yankees"* wasn't nearly as exciting as the WBC game between Canada and the US that followed.  More on that later, first I'll talk about the Blue Jays.

The "Yankees" won a fairly snooze-inducing game 3-0.  Most of the Jays starters (who weren't at the WBC) played today and didn't really do much.  The wind was blowing in all game and anything hit in the air was pretty much knocked down.

It was good to watch J.A. Happ in control for 3 innings.  He really started to struggle with his control in the 4th, necessitating a call to Brett Cecil.  I really want Cecil to do well.  Like Ricky Romero, I think he's a good guy and I like what I hear from him.  However, despite finding more velocity this off-season, he really hasn't pitched well.  From my seat, I really couldn't tell much of anything except for the fact that he walked 3 in only 1 1/3 inning.  He has been striking batters out in Spring Training, which is a positive sign, and he struggled mainly against right handed hitters today (walking Youkilis and giving up a double to Rivera) and he got victimized by yet another error on the infield (this one coming from SS Mike McCoy), so while the outing wasn't good, I'm going to take the positive that he faced mostly right-handed hitters and he did manage to strike out 2 of the 9 batters he faced.

The following pitchers, Alex Hinshaw (another lefty), Ramon Ortiz, and Tyson Brummett combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings.  While again, these were the "Yankees" they were pitching against, Hinshaw looked particularly effective and all three will make nice depth additions to the Buffalo Bisons, although if any of them are pitching in Toronto this year, something has gone horribly wrong.

On the offensive side, there wasn't much to write about.  Colby Rasmus (DHing today) had a base hit and flied out deep to center and was making better contact than yesterday.  Jose Bautista absolutely crushed a ball into the wind, where it died in left field.  Melky hit a double and Lind got a base hit.  Later in the game, Anthony Gose had a very nice hit, going the other way to left field off lefty pitcher Nuno (not sure if that's his name . . . he wasn't listed on the "Yankees" scorecard).  He also made the defensive play of the game, ranging to his left to make a diving catch in the right-center field gap.

Here are some more photos from Florida Auto Exchange Stadium:

Jose Bautista warming up next to Ryan Schimpf

Now.  On to the WBC (World Baseball Classic).  As I watched the game this afternoon I realized that Canada didn't lose the game because Ernie Whitt made questionable (meaning "bad") managerial decisions.  They lost because they just didn't have the depth of ML stars that the American team had.

Yes, in baseball, you can get lucky and ride a hot pitcher, but in this tournament format, that's just about impossible in the first round because pitchers are limited to 65 pitches.  So even when Canada got a way-above-average performance out of their starter, Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon, they would need way-above-average performances out of everyone else too.  With the collection of mostly-minor-league arms that Canada had, this wasn't going to happen.

Which brings me to my next point.  When only 3 batters in your line up seem to be able to hit major league pitching (although Adam Loewen didn't do badly today), and you have no one on the bench who can offer a lefty/righty matchup who has any real ML experience, you're going to lose to a team of Major League all-stars.

So, if Canada had Russell Martin and Brett Lawrie available, and if some of the starting pitchers who declined invitations to play had joined the team, they would have been in much better shape to take on a team like the US.  Let's hope for 2017.

* - the quotes denote use of irony in calling the team that NY brought to Dunedin the "Yankees."

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