Monday, April 6, 2009

. . . and they shall not be named

The actual season is upon us after this agonizingly long spring revue and the weird 25-man roster it engendered. I'm excited that we have a young first baseman. No one seems to think much of this guy, but I'll tell you what I like: he's a true Giant, signing right out of high school, and has logged 7 years in the system before getting his shot. Whatever else, Travis Ishikawa is a trouper--you have admire his persistence. I hope he mashes ML pitching! Across the diamond we have easily the most likeable and most talked about Giants prospect since, well, Tim Freakin' Lincecum. No one seems to know quite what to do with this kid, another true Giant, except to put a bat in his hands. A huge weight of expectations rests on Pablo Sandoval's rather large shoulders. Super-soph and true Giant Frederick Deshaun Lewis is my favorite position player, I'm really looking forward to watching his continuing maturity as a ballplayer. True Giant Emmanuel Burriss is the most interesting story, despite only 3 farm seasons (and a .684 OPS), he beat out the favorite for the 2nd base job. Who knew that "Manny-watch" meant this kid? That's FOUR, count 'em, FOUR farmhands, Giant signees all, in the lineup on Opening Day. That's pretty damn cool, eh? Two more make the list: true Giant Nate Schierholtz, my candidate for Most Screwed By The Old Guys Award, and Eugenio Velez (a 2005 Rule V guy), the winner of this years Weirdest Role Player Award. This isn't counting the pitchers, mind you, where young Giants are the stars. This club is, by degrees, transforming itself with youth and prospects. That's this year's story.

There's baggage of course, and the Giants Express will be burdened with this deadweight for a bit, well, some of it longer than a bit, but I'm going on a Lovecraftian "they shall not be named" jag in order to cope. I want nothing to spoil my fun watching The Youth Movement. SeƱor Slow (No. 1) will not be a Giant after this season, and maybe my prayers will be answered and he'll get shipped by the ASB. That Guy in RF (No. 2) is a fine fellow and a good ballplayer, so I can't work up the loathing I have for his CF neighbor. But fer chrissakes, can't we get Nate out there? Can't we move this guy? Rental (No. 16) serves as a daily reminder of the failure of our system to produce a major-league ready shortstop despite having one of the oldest players in the bigs man the position for THREE FULL SEASONS. What, we didn't see it coming? That one day even the beloved Omar Vizquel would get hurt and get that much closer to retirement? Did we think the guy would play into his 50s? Sheesh! I can hardly express the combination of fury and despair that accompanied the signing of Gomer (No. 33) for FIVE FREAKIN' YEARS. In fact, I can hardly write about it without an attack of the shakes. I cringe every time a ball is hit to center and every time he steps in the box. I cover my ears and close my eyes. I hum "me-me-me-me-me" real loud and run from the room. It's my nightmare and I'm stickin' to it!

Well, that's it, amigos. I'm stoked. Play ball.


Bob said...

I'm gonna stand up for the center fielder. He broke his freakin ribs right away last year and never really recovered. He will be better this year. Maybe not very good still, but better.

Ron said...

Because of other more pressing preoccupations during Spring Training, I haven't had much to say. So, here goes.

Our roster is decent.

First, with decent health, our pitching just may be the strongest in the league - maybe, the major leagues. We sent several guys back down to AAA & below who are either ML-ready or close.

Our offensive prayers seem to reside on the shoulders of Pablo Sandoval. Now, I saw very little Giants' action down the stretch last year, so I missed his August/September 2008 run. He may be an awesome hitter. But, his weight really troubles me. We have 2 super-fat guys in our starting lineup. One of them is a sloth of monumental proportions - practically a joke. Pablo seems capable of generating some speed, but I'm more worried about the wear-and-tear on his knees from carrying around so much weight - he's very young, so he has years of this wear-and-tear to endure. I recommend some weight loss.

Our young players are exciting. Again, we had to ship out a few people who could make a case for occupying roster spots now or soon - that's a good sign. This Torres guy seems to be a good pick-up. Aside from Schierholtz, we don't seem to have any pop off of the bench, but we have a host of capable back-up players.

Bob, standing up for Rowand, because his stats were down due to his rib injury is ... well, there's a word for it, but I can't think of it right now. Anyway, the problem with this guy is that he always has 'a rib injury' or some such thing. It's that lovable gung-ho style that endears him to people who like to watch SportsCenter, but aren't left picking up the pieces after he foolishly takes himself out of the line-up for most of the season. Judiciously picking your moments to crash into the fence without getting hurt is an art form - he hasn't mastered it, & therefore is a big liability (huge salary, lots of days off, injury-affected performance, when he's there). It's a bit of a mess, but we're stuck with it for a few years. Maybe, we need to add some different padding to the CF wall to help the situation (AT&T Park, the first ballpark equipped with outfield fence air bags?) - something.

Based upon pitching, decent defense, & adequate hitting, this is a pretty good team - one that can compete for the title in 2009. A couple of breakout years for the youngsters, & we're very strong. I'm optimistic, but, a lot like 1986, I'm also excited, because we have some very fun, interesting young players.

We're all Giants!

Bob said...

In retrospect, my advocacy for the Gomer reminds me of my previous defenses of Durham, Roberts, and Feliz. Clearly I'm a sucker for people who need second and third chances. I think I'll stay in the rose-colored glasses mode for now.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I worry--a little--about our starters, actually. We had to sign a 45 year old guy for $8M to shore up the rotation. What we have, otherwise, is Cy Young (TL) and Very Good (MC) to go along with Awesome Upside (JS) and Really Terrible (BZ). We could be excellent, we could be above average, both equally probable. The Cubs, Braves, Reds and Mets all have strong starting pitching, I think we'll be in that mix. AZ has two awesome starters, Haren and Webb, so they are close to that group as well.

Zo said...

Since it has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt on the internet that Brian Sabean is the worst general manager in the history of the universe, solely because Barry Zito, I will offer this comparison:
Sabean's signee: [2007 $10 mil, 34 gs, 99 er, 131 k, 11 w][2008 $14.5 mil, 32 gs, 115 er, 120 k, 10 w]. Colletti's signee: [2007 $15.7 mil, 6 gs, 18 er, 22 k, 1 w][2008 $15.2 mil, 0 gs, 0 er, 0 k, 0 w]. There, I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Seriously, though, I believe that Zito will have a much improved year. I do not think Zito has been really terrible except for the money, which seems to be a preoccupation with blogospherians, even though, or maybe because it is not something that we can do anything about.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Colletti is the Spawn of Sabean. Both throw wads of money at people. Sure, the Zito contract clouds any discussion of his "value." So lets look at stats, instead.

Go to FanGraphs and sort for NL starters (min 150 IP). 48 guys show up. Zito is 45th in ERA, just passing Sanchez at 44th. If you like newer metrics like FIP, Zito is 39th while Sanchez in 19th.

Teams hit .268 vs. BZ, good for 32nd in the same pool. He's 48th in walks per 9 innings (BB/9), 33rd in strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), and 45th in WHIP. This is a "lowest quartile" kind of guy.

I'd love to see him improve--he needs to.