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?



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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Svelte Panda

Dy'all see this?   (

Friday, January 10, 2014

Giants Get Off Thumbs ... Sign Big Bench Bat!

The Giants, who apparently have been asleep for the last month, finally showed signs of life this morning.  They announced a big 'minor league w/ invitation to Spring Training' move for that big bench bat we've been looking for for a few seasons.  Now, we know why they let Brett Pill go all Gangnam Style on us.  Dontrelle Willis is going to be our go-to PH now, so Pill was expendable.  That's right ... Dontrelle Willis, who has a higher career SLG than many hitters on our roster.

Seriously, though (well, actually, using Dontrelle as a PH isn't a totally bizarre idea), I suppose that this is a no-risk move to throw someone into the Spring Training competition for a starting spot.  I was not a big fan of just handing the #5 spot to Vogelsong, who is coming off a bad & injured season.  Especially not when, despite all of our collective faith & prayers, Lincecum is by no means a sure-thing.  Especially not when Tim Hudson, although not having a 'pitching' injury last year, is still a year older.  Especially not when Matt Cain, who we all know will be awesome again, could still struggle once-in-awhile.  Sure, we have Petit as back-up, but we needed some others to at least press the established 5.

I had held out hope for Bronson Arroyo (ain't going to happen).  Then, I thought about ex-Giant Jerome Williams, who actually has returned to MLB semi-effectiveness (he's now off-the-market again).  Then, I thought ... well, who knows, maybe Chad Gaudin should get another chance.  Didn't see this Dontrelle Willis thing coming, though.

I still have those fleeting moments every single day, when I ask "Why wouldn't a team as loaded as the Giants, whose main competitior is signing every frickin' top-level Pitcher available, be unwilling to think about Masahiro Tanaka?"  Signing Tanaka would still leave us tens of millions of dollars behind LA, NYY, LAA, Texas, Seattle, the Cubs, & a few others in the combo stat of salary/off-season aspirations.  So, remind me ... why wouldn't we at least give it a try?

I suppose that, when Dontrelle Willis pitches a 4-0 complete game shutout, having belted a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 9th, I'll have my answer!