Matt is the co-author of the season's hit list and a card-carrying member of the Portland Card-Carrying Club. He's watching the Red Sox today, so watch along with him.
Matthew Kory: Happy Opening Day everyone! I couldn't be more excited to talk baseball today! Also I have cards if anyone would like to carry them! Let's do chatting!
tripleb (Boston): Hey Matt, thanks for chatting. I just saw some odds that had the Red Sox (10/1), Mariners (12/1), and White Sox/Tigers (16/1) as favorites to win the AL. Do you buy it?
Matthew Kory: Hi! My wife called just as I made the chat go live. Life!
Yeah, sure, I'll buy that. There is so much parity now, that I'd probably buy just about anything. I mean, I can see the Red Sox winning 93 games or 73 games on either extreme. The Mariners can't hit and the Tigers are old, but each are probably still very good teams, right? I guess we'll know soon enough.
Hey, Ryan Howard made an out! Neat!
Cykid10 (McKinney, TX): With Henry Owens struggles in Spring Training, what is the timetable for the lefty this season?
Matthew Kory: I don't think Owens timetable would be any different had he dominated during Spring Training. He might be further up the depth chart right now, but I don't believe he's on the 40 man roster so he likely wouldn't be the first man up anyway. He needs to develop his fastball command anyway and that's not something you want to happen at the major league level if you can avoid it at all. I'm still bullish on Owens (bearish? The good one. I think he'll be good) but he has some work to do yet. To actually answer your question I'll guess he isn't up for any extended period until next season.
Ben Carsley (Boston): Hi Matt, are you working on any fun new projects you'd like to talk about?
Matthew Kory: I am! As a matter of fact, I, along with some other excellent writers, will be one of the featured writers at the new BP Boston website! Hooray! It should combine Red Sox analysis with the intelligence you've come to know and love here at BP. I understand we should be up and running with that in the very near future! Exciting!
William (New York): Strategy here is to score like 13 runs off Hamels to drive the price for him down, right?
Matthew Kory: It's funny how stuff like this works out. Like the Cubs who are trying to make a case for relevance opening the season in Chicago against the Cardinals in an unfinished Wrigley Field. Sometimes baseball is poetry.
I'm still not buying Hamels ever coming to Boston though. The Phillies aren't going to drop their price and the Red Sox aren't going to give up Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, so I'm not sure where the middle ground is here.
GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): Is it time for Cub fans to be worried about Lester and his contract?
Matthew Kory: Absolutely. I bet the Padres will take him though. I smell a trade!
Bryan Grosnick (Pittsfield, MI): Heya Matt. Which do you think will be that last day of the season where a pennant / wild card race will be in question?
Matthew Kory: That's a great question, Bryan! Probably the last day of the season? The more parity the longer the teams will be close in the standings, so I'll say we don't know who will make the playoffs until the last day of the season.
Good gosh I love watching pitchers hit. Love it. There is nothing else like it in sports. I mean, the NFL doesn't make quarterbacks play defensive line, and the NHL doesn't make Alex Ovechkin play goalie, but baseball insists players who specialize in one thing do something else. And it's glorious!
Sam M. BP (Bay Area): I had to choose between Buchholz and Porcello in a league where injuries don't matter. Who do you think I chose and am I an idiot?
Matthew Kory: It seems like a choice between on pitcher who is healthy and slightly above average and a pitcher who has injury concerns (i.e. he WILL get hurt) but is usually very good, but I don't think it is that. Buchholz, as high as I am on him this season (which is to say higher than most who think he's terrible) has been healthy and straight up bad. Also Porcello doesn't douse himself with water in between each inning so he's less likely to come down with hypothermia early in the season. So... Porcello?
Meathead fans (Chicago): True or very true: if Kris Bryant was on the team, the Cubs would've won last night? also Lester was a mistake.
Matthew Kory: Eh, any one game is tough to change by adding one guy. The Cubs struck out 12 times last night so how many more would it have been if Bryant who strikes out almost 30 percent of the time against minor league pitching was in the lineup? Bryant has amazing power and he's clearly been a good hitter in his minor league career but his skills are not unblemished.
As for Lester, it's not hard to make the case any six year contract for a starting pitcher is a mistake. That said, I like Lester this season and next if he doesn't develop an injury. Beyond that, who knows...
Maggie (Raine, WA): Wondering if Tanaka can compete on as high a level with less fastball and less slider use?
Matthew Kory: We will see, won't we? I mean I know that's a terrible answer. I think the issue with Tanaka though isn't velocity so much as location. From what I saw he wasn't commanding his pitches like he did early last season. He can compete with a 90 mph fastball if he puts it in the right spot, but he's going to get crushed like any other pitcher if he misses his spots. Side note, if Tanaka isn't #TANAK! the Yankees are in some trouble this season.
justarobert (Santa Clara): You watched a lot of Jon Lester's starts in Boston. How did he look when throwing to first after fielding a ground ball?
Matthew Kory: To be honest, and this doesn't say much for my observational skills, but I don't ever recall seeing a problem with Lester throwing to first on a fielding play. Similarly I never noticed that he never made pickoff throws to first until someone (Ben Lindbergh?) brought it up. It's amazing! What does it say about his mental state that he never does that? Will everyone steal on him? The Cardinals tried to steal four times last night (one a double steal). This is a fascinating storyline to me!
Rusney (Not Boston): Does it seem weird to sign a 27-year-old outfielder for a ton of money and send him to the minors even though he has been hitting since they signed him?
Matthew Kory: I mean, it does if that's the only information you consider. When they signed him Betts wasn't an outfielder, and they hadn't signed Hanley. If you ask me (and hey!) that's the signing that makes the least sense, or at least fits in the least considering the team's roster construction. But Ben Cherington determined they needed a middle of the order bat and Hanley was on the market and wanted to come to Boston. The key here is, I think, that Victorino is gone after this season and that will clean up the logjam a good bit.
Edward (Framingham, MA): Has there been any advance in the petition by Ozzie Smith in making Opening Day a National Holiday?
Matthew Kory: I don't know, but gosh darnit there should be! Opening Day might just be my favorite day of the year. It's cold and cloudy here in Portland, Oregon but I've got my baseball stuff on and man I'm excited!
And since nobody asked, how about Mookie Betts? The guy just hits the ball hard like all the time!
Chris (Florida): How does the Red Sox outfield eventually shake out?
Matthew Kory: Ramirez in left, Betts in center, and Castillo in right. I mean, how else could it shake out? They gave Ramirez a four year deal, they gave Castillo a six year deal, and Betts is Mookie!. There's no space for anyone else in the long run. For now, Victorino is here and healthy, but both those things will change soon enough. It's kind of sad how Jackie Bradley messed up his opportunity so badly, but he'll get another one with another team at some point in the next calendar year.
Sam M. BP (Bay Area): I chose Buchholz! Injuries don't matter!
Matthew Kory: So I'm the idiot then! That's settled. But what about when Buchholz is healthy and terrible? Like last season and 2012?
Pushka (O. ): Red Sox win the non-trade!
Matthew Kory: Mookie homers off Hamels so at least the Red Sox are guaranteed to win something this season!
Denis (Toronto, ONT, CAN): Do you like Pompey as an everyday option in CF for the Blue Jays?
Matthew Kory: As opposed to what? Mike Trout? No. But Pompey is probably the Blue Jays best option. I suppose they could have re-signed Colby Rasmus, but that ship kinda sailed. If his defense is as advertised then they should be fine getting runs from elsewhere.
justarobert (Santa Clara): Play index to the rescue, at least to some extent. Lester's fielded 188 balls in his career, with ten errors (all but maybe one throwing). There have also been 27 infield singles.
I glanced at a couple condensed games from 2014 just to get an idea. When he's not running over and underhanding the ball to first, I saw a couple short-armed, side-armed, off-target throws. I have no idea whether those were representative.
Matthew Kory: Thanks for the research, Robert! I've definitely seen him underhand throws to first before while jogging to first. It's so interesting to me that a person whose job it is to throw a baseball has a problem with throwing a baseball! And yet in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn't impact his value as a pitcher too much if at all.
Brendan (Seattle, WA): What do you expect in the power department from Castillo, this year and next?
Matthew Kory: He's showed good power in limited time both in the majors and minors last season as well as in spring this year, but we just have such an incredibly small sample on which to go by that it's tough to say. I'm optimistic that he'll have average power. He's a strong looking guy and seems to have good bat speed. The question is what happens when pitchers get a book on him and he has to make changes to his approach. Will he be able to? But that's true of any young/new to MLB player too. PECOTA has him for eight homers this year, but that's in 267 PAS, not in a starters playing time. That's about 20 homers in 600 PAs which sounds about right to me.
mike (ca): Why is Chris Davis not playing. I can't find and info on it.
Matthew Kory: Maybe Baltimore is facing a lefty and don't have the DH? I'm not sure. Every time I try to load up the MLB website my computer almost crashes. That's my guess though. Someone tell me if I'm right!
Buchholz looks good, huh? No walks, four Ks and (SHHH NO HITS) it looks like all his pitches are working.
lilbonest (Chicago): Brewers are gonna need Jimmy Nelson to step up in order for them to be halfway competitive. Can we expect a sub 4 era?
Matthew Kory: Sure! Is there a major league pitcher who doesn't have a sub-4.00 ERA? You get a sub-4.00 ERA and you get a sub-4.00 ERA and you get a sub-4.00 ERA! Everyone gets a sub-4.00 ERA!!
Brutal change up by Buchholz to strike out Chase Utley. That thing moved from the inside of the plate to outside the zone. I don't know how you hit that. Neither does Utley I suppose.
Cykid10 (McKinney, TX): Best Sea Dog of all time? Marc Deschenes or Ryan Cameron?
Matthew Kory: I have no answer for this question.
And Ryan Howard breaks up Clay Buchholz's no-hitter in the fourth inning. Can you even have a no-hitter in the fourth inning? I think you have to get through six innings before we can start barking about a no-hitter in progress to people not actively watching the game. I propose this as a new rule! Let's run this through the process, submit the paperwork and see what happens!
Bob (Bobville): Hi Matthew, Are you chatting with a paper bag over your head? Is that a regular part of your wardrobe?
Matthew Kory: No no, silly! A bag is just another piece of clothing. Like a hat or shirt. You don't wear the same shirt or hat every day, right? Sometimes I wear a bag, sometimes I don't wear a bag. Today I'm just wearing a hat. I HOPE THAT'S OKAY WITH YOU!
Tony (Richmond Hill): Chris Davis is serving the last day of his suspension that started last year.
Matthew Kory: And BP readers come through again! Thanks BP Readers!
Pushka (O. ): A left-fielder other than Hanley catches that double by Howard, yeah?
Matthew Kory: Maybe? It looked like Hanley got a fair jump on it, but he's not out there for his defense. That said, the guy was a shortstop as recently as last year. He's not unathletic. I think he'll be fine out there. Hey, if Manny Ramirez could do it...
Chester Trout (Dallas): Please set an over/under on the number of times the Phillies will be no-hit this season.
Matthew Kory: I'm tempted to say 2.5 times, but I think that would generate far more unders than overs, so I probably have to put it at 1.5 (and then take the over).
Two runners on and your number five guy in the lineup is batting. Promising, right? Now you're the Phillies and your number five guy is Grady Sizemore. Boom! Rally extinguished like a cigarette on an airplane
Chester Trout (Dallas): The guy stealing signs from the Phillies bullpen thinks Buchholz is back to doctoring the ball.
Matthew Kory: This is known as "doing research."
While we're at it, I'll set the over/under for Mookie homers this season at 782.5.
Mike (Michigan): Davis is still serving his suspension for getting busted for Adderall use.
Matthew Kory: And Hamels strikes Betts out so re-write! Phillies win the trade that wasn't!
Chester Trout (Dallas): I know bunting sucks and all, but isn't someone going to just drop bunt after bunt in front of Lester and see if he starts chucking the ball all over the yard? I've seen teams do that to Matt Garza, who is also a terrible fielder.
*checks schedule to see when Lester might start a game against the Brewers*
Matthew Kory: I mean, it's inevitable that teams are going to try to take advantage of this. I wonder if any teams knew about this before the internet? I know we all have trouble with the idea that we didn't invent everything, but teams do do lots of research on stuff like this. Wouldn't you think someone whose job it is to figure things like this out would have figured it out? I wonder if one team played Lester differently last season and we all just failed to notice.
And another Red Sox homer. Four in all now after another one by Pedroia and one by Hanley. And yet it's only 4-0 because the Red Sox have had almost no base runners otherwise.
Dustin (Boston): Pedroia has power again!
Matthew Kory: He does! Or, probably. I mean, again, it's only one game. But he did hit seven total homers last season and in fewer than seven PAs he's got two so that's at least sort of meaningful. I'm just wondering if he can last the whole game without tearing a tendon sheath or ripping some cartilage in his ring finger. If he can wait at least two or three games before doing that then you can bump up his power projections accordingly.
Matthew Kory: Looks like that's it for questions. Thanks everyone who wrote in and I hope you're all enjoying Opening Day! Happy baseball everyone!