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Get your Melvin Lineup Dice here!

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Okay, it's something that's probably way over-analyzed, but there was a nice article on our potential lineup construction in the Republic. Here's what Nick P. reckons the Opening Day order will be, based on the hints dropped by Melvin:

  1. Byrnes
  2. Hudson
  3. Drew
  4. Jackson
  5. Tracy
  6. Quentin
  7. Young
  8. Snyder
  9. Webb

However, I think the graphic that accompanies it is probably more enlightening as to all the possibilities: it's not available online, so I slapped it into the scanner. It's shown below and gives a good idea of how flexible our lineup will be. I think that's probably a good thing, despite the lack of a protypical leadoff or cleanup player. Oh, and thanks to Levski on DBBP for the idea of the Melvin Dice. :-)

Said our manager, "You're seeing that numbers are more and more prevalent across the board in the game now, and (matchups) are one of the ways you try to implement those numbers and give you the best chance." Hmmm... This is true, as long as you have a decent number of at-bats to work with: as I've mentioned before, specific batter-pitcher matchups rarely reach the level of plate-appearances where they can be relied on with any degree of confidence. Still, nice to see an acceptance that Melvin appears to be not averse to a stats-based approach to management. Now, if Josh Byrnes can only convince him of the worthlessness of the sacrifice bunt, especially when executed by a non-pitcher.

[The evidence for that can be found in this grid, in case you were wondering. It shows the average number of runs scored for any given situation of men on base and outs. If you have a man on base X, with Y outs, there are very few situations where a successful sacrifice, giving you a man on base X+1, with Y+1 outs, will actually increase the expected number of runs scored. For instance, if you have a man on first with no outs, you're expected to score 0.953 runs. Bunt him over to second with one out, and the average then drops to 0.725 runs. Bunting is bad, m'kay?]

A bunch more players were thanked for their attendance and either optioned or sent to Minor League Camp. Infielders Emilio Bonifacio and Danny Richar, outfielders Carlos Gonzalez, Alex Romero and Justin Upton, pitchers Adam Bass, Evan MacLane and Jailen Peguero, and catcher Wilkin Castillo. CaGon made the best impression in spring, going 9-for-21; Upton was only 4-for-18. MacLane pitched well (6 IP, 2 ER), but this ends his outside chance at the fifth spot in the rotation, while Peguero struck out an impressive eight in his six innings of work.

Off day for the Diamondbacks today, but while we were talking to Chris Constancio on Tuesday, Arizona squeaked out another narrow win, pipping the Cubs 6-5 on a double off the center-field wall by Hairston in the bottom of the ninth. Eric Byrnes had three hits once again - he's now batting .522 this spring (12-for-23) - and cranked the first pitch of the game into the Chicago bullpen. Between him and replacement Hairston, they were 5-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Hudson had a pair of hits too, but we did rack up eight K's compared to only three walks.

Micah Owings looked very good on the mound, giving up just a single and a walk in three innings, striking out four, though it did look a fairly B-list Cubs lineup. Mind you, our pitching was kinda B-list too, with Cruz the only expected Opening Day arm to be seen. He was unimpressive: three hits and two walks in his two innings, though did strike out three. Harville and Murphy pitched the seventh and eighth; Schultz allowed two runs in the eighth, and had exactly the same line as Cruz (2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB), without the strikeouts. has a story on Micah Owings, which says the usual thing about how it's his 'intangibles' rather than his 'stuff' which gets the job done. One National League scout says, "He just gets hitters out and that's really the bottom line. He's so good at hitting his spots. The stuff is just average, but he usually puts it where he wants to." I'm torn as to whether this is a good thing or not. Part of me reckons this sounds as if he's getting batters out with smoke and mirrors, and will be in for a rude awakening at the major-league level. On the other hand, knowing how to pitch seems a definite talent, and should be something that will stick with you, when raw tools might not.

Doug Davis got his work in a genuine B-game, but his stuff was closer to Z-grade. He allowed 10 hits, four walks, five earned runs and a homer, while retiring just three White Sox hitters. WTF? Said Davis, "The result was terrible, but I got my work in and I felt healthy. It was a good day to see how strong I could stay without being frustrated. My arm felt good. My location was good. I felt like the low strike wasn’t there for me. These are the days you have to be mentally tough. Today was kind of a beat-down, but it’s one of those days. You just have to go on from there."

The comment in bold reminds me that Russ Ortiz pitched for the Giants, and it was good to see that he seems to be getting into the regular-season form we expected: 3.2 IP, 5 hits, a walk and a wild pitch, for two earned runs. The Trimspa Manatee allowed a home-run to Gary Matthews Jr. - which may be the baseball equivalent of, in the words of Oscar Wilde, the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable. Let's hope this is indeed the shape of things to come. Scratch his Opening Day perfect game, and his ERA is creeping up, now to 4.00 in the nine innings since then. May that continue to be the case...

Our attendance at Friday's game vs. the A's has now been confirmed. At first, it looked like no tickets were available, and it was "standing room only" - not sure how that works at Phoenix Muni, maybe it refers to the grass beyond the outfield walls? But it seems that our cousin has pulled some magic out of her hat - not going to ask about that in detail! - and so actual seats have been procured. We'll also be stopping off at the Sinn show-club before the game: before you say anything, it's strictly business, as Mrs. SnakePit is working with one such den of iniquity, for her Ying Yang Twins show next week. Hey, it's a dirty job. ;-)