Monday, August 08, 2005

Game Report: Indianapolis vs Toledo

Yesterday I went to the Indianapolis Indians/Toledo Mudhens game that featured a number of interesting players. I was with my wife, my brother, and his girlfriend. I didn't take notes, this is all personal recollection combined with the box score. Nevertheless, here's my commentary.

Mike Connolly started the game for Indy and was the star of the show. He kept Toledo's lineup off balance by doing his best Jamie Moyer impression all day. He threw a lot of off speed stuff. I mean a lot. It looked like he had a changeup in the low 70's, a slurvy breaking ball in the high 70's, and a fastball that worked mostly in the mid 80's. His location was good all day on all three pitches and he looked like he was toying with the batters. His defense also helped. All 4 infielders looked good.

Speaking of Connolly's defense, Yurendell DeCaster looked outstanding at first base. It's a rare day when a first baseman looks like the best defensive player on the field, but this was one of them. DeCaster has played third in the other times I've seen him, and he looked comfortable there, making all the routine plays. He didn't stand out though. I don't remember him charging any ground balls or making any diving stops followed by a rocket across the diamond to just nail a streaking runner. Today though, he made at least 3 plays that just stood out. One was a diving stop right over the first base bag to start a double play. That was a very hard hit ball and his reactions were pretty impressive. He also smoked a couple of singles through the infield. He's now in his mid 20's and he looks like he's settling in as a good AAA regular with maybe a callup here and there to provide an extra body on somebody's bench. His ceiling probably looks like his teammate Ty Wigginton, only with a little more power.

The Indians also had Bobby Hill and Ty Wigginton in the lineup and they looked just as you'd expect to look. They looked like the AAAA guys they are. Wigginton is the better player of the two, but Hill is a little younger. Still, I have more faith that Wiggy is more likely to see a Major League clubhouse again. Hill looks like he's on the career trajectory that has him out of baseball within 5 years and he isn't that great defensively at either 2B or 3B. Wigginton by comparison is a worse defensive second baseman, but is pretty good at the hot corner. He can be of some use to a team that needs a bench bat and a guy who can be a defensive replacement for their 3B.

Graham Koonse looked good at the plate. He smashed a pretty majestic home run over the center field wall. That's a hard thing to do at Victory Field.

Nate McLouth didn't do much, but I still like him.

This was the first time I saw Ronny Paulino and I liked what I saw. His swing looked quick. He didn't chase any bad pitches. And he smoked what seemed like every pitch he saw that was over the plate. I'll have to watch him again to get a feel for his defense behind the plate. He really didn't have any plays that challenged him. He looked comfortable back there, but I couldn't tell you how well he throws or how fast his reactions are.

On the other side was Kenny Baugh. Baugh had more velocity, but he wasn't nearly as sharp. He wasn't wild, but he didn't have command over his pitches, missing up and over the heart of the plate. His breaking stuff just sat there waiting to get hit. I'd like to know whether this was a bad day or if he's tiring towards the end of the season.

The entire Toledo team looked listless. They looked apathetic. First among that crowd was Carlos Pena, who looked more like he was waiting for a bus than trying to play baseball. At the plate he looked mediocre. In the field he looked awful, exhibiting little range, bad hands, and a complete lack of interest. He should get another chance somewhere, but he'll have to look better than he looked on Sunday. He used to carry the reputation of being an excellent defensive first baseman. What happened to that? On the positive side, he's still hitting .323/.433/.541 in the IL.

DeWayne Wise had an awful game in the field and a good game at the plate. He otherthrew home plate, got turned around on a deep fly ball, and played a big part in Baugh's bad day. On one of those bad plays, he made a bad break on a DeCaster deep drive and overplayed it when he did get close. It bounced on the warning track, off the out-of-town scoreboard, and over his head back into left field. He did recover later, making a couple of nice catches in deep left center, but the damage was done. At the plate, he had a bunt single and a solo home run on the one mistake pitch that Connolly made all day.

Curtis Granderson was a guy I wanted to get a good look at. He played center field and looked competent. Nothing more, nothing less, just competent. His range is below average, but he showed some zip on the throws back into the infield, and his hands looked pretty good. At the plate, he showed a solid line drive bat and good plate discipline. This all reinforced my opinion of him as a guy who should have a pretty nice ML career, but not somebody who is likely to be particularly famous. He should be an average major leaguer.

Attendance was lower than you'll find on most Sunday afternoons in Indy. There weren't that many people there. Then again, the Brickyard 400 was in town, which made driving and parking a bit of a pain for most people around town. We can usually park across the street at the White River State Park, but there were close to half million people in town for the race. Anyways, it was a great day to attend a sporting event. It was warm, but not stifling hot. It was sunny, but not too sunny. Just all in all, a nice day.

One guy about a section away from us grabbed a ball thrown into the seats from a kid that looked like he was about 8-10 year old. Even when the guy gave the ball to his daughter, people booed and the little boy gave him the stink-eye of a lifetime. That kid looked like he was going to go over and punch that big punk in the nose.

Be courteous at the ballpark.

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