Opening Day murmurs

Wisconsin native Craig Counsell will start at third on Monday, so says Adam McCalvy. Not sure if the rationale is (a) because Counsell bats left-handed and would have an edge over the right-handed hitting Graffanino against the righty Derek Lowe, (b) to give the hometown boy some fanfare, (c) because Counsell edged Graffy out in Cactus League OBP by a .304 to .271 margin, or (d) because Counsell faced the Dodgers and Lowe more last year while a Diamondback. Normally I’d say “all of the above,” but Counsell hit .255 against righties in ’06, while Graffy hit .276 against righties while a Brewer last year…still, Graffy’s only faced NL pitching for 60 games since being a Brave in ’98, while Counsell’s been a National Leaguer throughout his entire career.
Johnny Estrada is slated to bat 5th, ahead of Geoff Jenkins…I like this move, as (a) it takes some pressure off of Jenkins, and (b) Estrada is a .300 hitter, after all. But, that said, Jenkins did have an .843 OPS, 11 extra base hits, and 13 RBI’s in April last year, and his power is better in the 5 spot.
Of course, Ben Sheets will be on a pitch count, and likely only go 6 innings, tops. If the Brewers have the lead, who will Yost go to in the 7th? A lot will depend upon whose coming up to bat, but it will be interesting to see who Yost trusts in this situation (and, more importantly, who he doesn’t)…or if he tries Elmer Dessens, knowing that the Dodgers didn’t face him in a game situation since ’04.
David Hannes
Copyright 2007

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