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Game Thread: March 31, 2008

Hey, as long as the automated scheduler calls it Jacobs Field, I'm fine with that.

Welcome to the 108th season of Blues/Bronchos/Naps/Indians baseball! If this game is played, it will be the first regular-season game played at home in the month of March in franchise history. It's also the first season opener to be played at home since 2001.

With those useless factoids out of the way, let's concentrate on today's opponent, the Chicago White Sox. Chicago made several major trades over the offseason:

11-19-07: Traded RHP Jon Garland to LA/Anaheim for SS Orlando Cabrera

12-3-07: Traded 1B Chris Carter to Arizona for OF Carlos Quentin

1-3-08: Traded LHP Gio Gonzalez, et al, to Oakland for OF Nick Swisher

They also signed two free agent relievers: Scott Linebrink (4 yrs, $19M), and Octavio Dotel (2 yrs, $11M)

Joe Crede is still the starting third baseman, though the White Sox would like to trade him. Juan Uribe has moved over to second base, replacing Tadahito Iguchi.

Chicago scored only 693 runs last despite hitting 190 home runs. Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede had injury-marred seasons, and the White Sox got little production from left and center field. On top of that, they finished 12th in ERA; that poor showing was due to a bad bullpen and a poor back of the rotation. Hence all the money spent in shoring up the bullpen, and the acquisition of the two young outfielders. Their rotation looks weaker than it was last year, with Gavin Floyd replacing Jon Garland in the rotation.

But today the Indians are facing Mark Buerhle, Chicago's ace. Buerhle has thrown 200 innings each of the last seven seasons, and posted an ERA+ of over 110 in all but one of them. In recent years the Indians have fared very well against Buerhle; they collectively hit .313/.345/.438 against him last year.