Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three Weeks Away

Pitchers and catchers report on the 14th of February. The 40-man roster is set (yes, FNG David Huff is on it), and according to the website 66 players will be at camp. Considering that maybe three spots out of 25 are available, it should make for a dull spring. Like I said before, I'm not complaining. Will this be Heath Hembree's opportunity? That's exciting. It doesn't seem like anyone else on the farm is quite ready (other than perhaps Juan Perez, who got to show his stuff for a fair bit last season). Mike Morse will be an interesting case--he's supposed to give the team a little more thump (he had eight homers in April last year), but his glove is supposed to be even worse that Pat Burrell's. The Giants depend a lot on defense, especially range and speed in the outfield, and how Ol' Boch handles the Morse experiment will be a fun story. Gregor Blanco is a valuable guy, and I think the brass know that, so I don't think we'll have to worry about the trade-off too much. If Morse is healthy and can deliver big hits, great. If the move doesn't work out, El Tiburón can step in and do what he does, and the team can go hunting for another thumper or give Morse a different role. There are some good hitters in the lineup already, the "Killer P's" are an enviable bunch (Panda, Posey, Pence, and Pagan), and I am really looking forward to another season from young Brandon Belt. I'm not sure why a chunk of Giants fans are down on a 25-year old lefty coming off a 4-WAR season, but I'm not one of them. I think he's only going to get better, and when you compare him to the rest of the first basemen in the game, he stacks up damn well (and he wears a fat, shiny ring). Take that, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Freddie Freeman!

In the end, as well all know, it will come down to the pitching. If Matt Cain returns to the full-season form we've seen every year but last year, and Madison Bumgarner continues on his upward trajectory, the Giants will have a great one-two punch. Doubt swirls around the likes of Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong, but call me a dreamy-eyed fanboy, I'm not concerned. Tim is a special case. If any athlete will defy expectations, it will be him. Vogie's unique career path also makes him a tough guy to pigeonhole. If he's healthy (and not churning out innings in the WBC), his game--throw strikes, work the corners, change speeds--will play well. And Tim Hudson has one of the best track records of any pitcher in the bigs. I think he's a huge acquisition. The bullpen may be the weak link. Not that the guys aren't talented, but we know how it goes with relievers, there is a lot of uncertainty in those small sample sizes. But I'm a Righetti convert, and if I'm going to put my faith in intangibles, it will be in his pitcher-whisperer skills. And as Sabes showed in the latter half of 2010, he can get the arms he needs for the stretch run.

2013 was a shitty year for the Giants and a shitty year for me personally. Perhaps I'm reaching when I get excited about flipping the calendar pages. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let the blues color my enthusiasm for my beloved boys in orange-and-black. 2014 is, so far, looking up, and I'm going to keep it going with an excess of positive energy and child-like joy. Baseball is coming! What could be better than that?

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.



p.s. could not get the B-R linker tool to work, sorry

13 comments:

M.C. O'Connor said...

Oh, I don't want to hear this.

Seems to be minor. Let's hope so.

Ron said...

Before Pitchers & Catchers report, there's a little competition called the Caribbean World Series about to get started.

Yesterday, I tuned into Latin American Sports Channel just in time to see Twins' Minor Leaguer Kennys Vargas launch a mammoth 2-out, 8th inning grand slam to break a 1-1 tie, sending Los Indios de Mayaguez into the CWS as the Puerto Rican representative. They won the final series, 4 games to 2. The sellout home crowd went completely berserk.

Also, hearing chatter that the Panda has a minor injury, but should feature in the CWS for Navegantes de Magallanes - coming up starting Saturday, with all games live on LAS. If you get LAS, tune in to see the Panda - Venezuela is the host country, & don't think that they play until Sunday. Saturday, there are games between PR & DR and between Mexico & Cuba.

M.C. O'Connor said...

How fun would it be to GO to the CWS? Watching baseball in Mexico was one of my favorite experiences. I would love to go see the game in all the other places it is played.

Ron said...

Serie del Caribe Update:

- Dominican Republic starting lineup features both Francisco Peguero & Eugenio Velez. Both featured prominently in DR's 1st inning rally, especially Peguero, who legged out an IF hit, then improbably went 1st to 3rd on a later hit to LF.

- I can watch on 2 different channels, LAS & ESPN Deportes, but am watching on LAS who are picking up the Puerto Rican feed.

- DR currently ahead, 5-1 after 3 innings. PR just changed pitchers to some white guy named Michael Nix, a 30-year old ex-Auburn guy who pitched for Birmingham & Chattannooga last year. Drafted by Atlanta, has never pitched in bigs.

Ron said...

Forgot to mention that the Managers are Jose Offerman (DR) & a quite chubby Carlos Baerga (PR).

Ron said...

Barn burner ... 6-6 going to the 10th & the new DR Pitcher ... Guillermo Mota, who gives up a 2B on the 1st pitch.

Ron said...

PR 3B Coach appears to be Luis Quinones (The Might Quinn!). PR just scored & are still hitting.

Ron said...

PR 7-6 DR in 10 innings. WP - Tyler Herron, LP - Guillermo Mota. Up next: Mexico & Cuba. Tomorrow @ 4:30 PM PST, Venezuela's first game, featuring the Panda.

Ron said...

Well, I'm pretty worn out from the Opening Weekend of the Serie del Caribe. Here are the results:

Saturday - PR beat DR; between games, an elaborate Opening Ceremony featuring the President of Venezuela shaking hands with everyone on all 5 teams; then, Mexico beat Cuba.

Sunday - Mexico beat PR; between, games, an AWESOME concert in front of a packed house, with various types of Salsa & other musical styles from all 5 participating countries - todo mundo bailando!; then, a Panda-less Venezuela beat Cuba.

That's right, after playing in the series that qualified los Navegantes del Magallanes as Venezuela's representative, the Panda is NOT in the house. Perhaps, the Giants decided that it wouldn't be a great idea. A few other temporary Navegantes (e.g. Elvis Andrus) are also not at the Serie. However, several other big leaguers are playing, including Endy Chavez (who hit a long HR), Alberto Callaspo, & the irrepressible Carlos Zambrano for Venezuela. The Brew-Crew's Martin 'Machete' Maldonado, who plays C for PR, has been particularly impressive, flashing a wicked throwing arm - I assume that's where the nickname comes from. There are also various MLB hangers-on & blasts-from-the-past. Cuba's Villa Clara features super-ringer Yulieski Gourriel. So, if you want to see one of Cuba's greatest players in action, this is your chance.

After the 5-team round robin, the 4 top teams play single game Semi-Finals, then the top 2 play the Final next Saturday.

Ron said...

Serie del Caribe updates:

- DR beat Cuba, so Cuba are now 0-3 & nearly out of the competition. DR is 1-1.

- Venezuela beat Mexico. I caught the last couple of innings which included a second save of the competition for our lovable JEAN MACHI! He got a fly out & a whiff, then gave up 2 singles, before whiffing the last guy to wrap it up. Venezuela & Mexico both have 2 wins already &, due to other results, are now both through to the semi-finals.

- Today, Cuba plays PR, & Venezuela plays DR. Mexico has the day off.

Ron said...

Tuesday in the Serie del Caribe:

- Cuba beat PR to finish round robin play at 1-3 & preserve their slim chances of continuing on to the semi-finals. PR are now 1-2.

- Venezuela went to 3-0 by beating DR in a tight 2-1 contest. Again, Jean Machi stepped up for the Save, his 3rd! DR is now 1-2. I keep forgetting to mention that Venezuela's C is our old Friend, Ebenezer Garbanzo.

On tap for Wednesday, the conclusion of round robin play:

- Mexico plays DR, with Mexico having already qualified for the semis. DR would advance would a win.

- Venezuela plays PR, Venezuela having already qualified. A PR win puts them through & eliminates Cuba. A Venezuela win eliminates PR & puts Cuba through.

And, if you want to see & listen to a brief 1 minute excerpt from Sunday's awesome concert featuring Oscar D'Leon, here's a link. I've found tons of other Oscar D'Leon stuff on the Internet - he's very famous & fantastic!:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7whciH44vo&feature=youtube_gdata

And, here's a Venezuelan promotional video for the Serie del Caribe itself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dt3IdewcN0

Ron said...

Serie del Caribe round robin complete:

- DR beat Mexico.
- PR beat Venezuela.
- Cuba eliminated.

Semi-Finals are:

- Today, DR v. Mexico @ 4:30 PM PST.

- Tomorrow, PR v. Venezuela @ 4:30 PM PST.

Final is Sunday @ 4:30 PM PST.

Ron said...

Mexico beat DR, 3-2, last night to advance to the Final. Our old Friend, Guillermo Mota, walked in the tieing run in the 8th. In the 9th, he gave up a lead-off hit, then made an ill-advised throw to 2B on a sacrifice attempt. The following hitter, Sebastian Valle, successfully executed the old 'fake the bunt, chop it up the middle' play, &, by the time that DR CF F. Peguero picked the ball up, the winning run was crossing the plate.

Venezuela v. PR today - home fans will be noisy!