8 Very Reasonable, Not at All Too Early Reactions to Saturday’s Cactus League Opener
The Cubs played actual baseball Saturday afternoon, which means we get to start dissecting live action instead of batting practice and word of mouth. And as we all know, the first game of spring training offers ample evidence from which to make solid pronouncements. With that in mind, I’ve got a few thoughts on what the Cubs’ 10-8 win over the Giants means for the rest of the year.
Feel free to apply to each of these whatever degree of seriousness you like.
Marquee needs better lens filters
I don’t know if the folks running the Marquee broadcast thought it was going to be overcast and thus didn’t adequately prepare, but the color was so washed out that several viewers tried to adjust their pictures. Everything had a yellowish tint and some of the pixels from the third base camera appeared to have blown out. I get that it’s spring training for everyone, but this is the kind of thing you’d think they’d have worked out pretty easily ahead of time.
Nico Hoerner will be the best leadoff man since Dexter Fowler
Hoerner singled twice in his two at-bats, both of which led off innings, and scored a run to establish himself as the best option for the leadoff spot. He only saw two pitches and you’d love to see him settle into a more patient approach, but reaching base frequently is all that matters.
Seiya Suzuki is doomed
The bulked-up right fielder was scratched with left oblique tightness and it’s clear his beefier physique will be the cause of his ruination.
The kids are alright
Pete Crow-Armstrong walked and scored, Matt Mervis had a hit and a walk with a run of his own, and Jared Young drove in a pair with a single. Brennen Davis walked and probably would have collected a hit had he run through first on a hard grounder to third that he thought snuck through. It was a weird scene as he rounded the bag instead, so either he didn’t pick up his first base coach or Mike Napoli misread the play.
Christopher Morel is toast
The Cubs struck out just six times as a team, with Morel accounting for three of those in three at-bats. He did draw a walk, so that’s cool.
The Cubs can blow teams out
Scoring 10 runs, seven of which came in one frame, is proof that Jed Hoyer has indeed assembled an offensive juggernaut.
Adrian Sampson has reverted to his old self
My fear all last season was that Sampson would fall back into his dinger-happy days of yore, though I was since convinced that changes to his repertoire had made him a new pitcher. He was back to his old self on Saturday, surrendering three homers in a sign that he can no longer be trusted.
The pitch clock is great
There’s this misunderstanding that the pitch clock is just about shortening the length of games, which could lead some to believe it didn’t work in a contest that lasted a little over three hours. However, the purpose of the clock is to hasten the pace of play by eliminating dead time. It was very effective on that front and I have to think a game that featured 18 runs on 25 hits, 13 walks, and six errors would have lasted around four hours last year.
I also like that umpires are being very strict in their enforcement of the clock here in the early going in order to establish the rules. The last thing anyone wants is for this to be an issue once the games actually count.
Not all of these things are very serious, of course, though even the really silly knee-jerk stuff has a kernel of either hope or concern at its core. I might even keep pulling on a few of these threads as the spring progresses.