Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cactus League

Exhibition baseball is here and the Giants have started the great two-oh-one-eight roster shake-down. It's not going to feature much drama as the big spots have already been filled. The infield is set with Brandons Belt & Crawford, Joe Panik, and FNG Evan Longoria. Buster Posey and Nick Hundley will share the catching duties. The outfield trio of Hunter Pence with FNGs Austin Jackson and Andrew McCutchen is also set. That's nine guys. The rotation will have the big three of Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija. Now we are up to twelve. The bullpen will feature Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and FNG Tony Watson. (Will Smith will make the team but is still healing from TJS, we'll have to count his spot, too.) That bring us to seventeen, eighteen with Smith's spot. All the rest of the guys in camp will be competing for the final seven places on the 25-man roster.

There will be two more starters: Chris Stratton is the obvious pick; Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez, Derek Holland and the rest will fight for the other spot. Derek Law and Steven Okert could both make the bullpen. That's a 12-man staff already. With the nine position players listed above only four openings remain. Two will be outfielders, perhaps a non-roster invitee like Steven Duggar will surprise us, or we'll see a familiar face like Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson, or even Austin Slater. I think Pablo Sandoval has a good shot at one backup spot--he plays both corners and could probably still catch in a pinch. He's got some pop and hits from both sides, but the biggest appeal is that he costs nothing. With the team oh-so-close to the luxury tax threshold I suspect that could be important. That means we may see a rookie bump a veteran guy like Gregor Blanco so they can save a few bucks. Kelby Tomlinson probably has the inside track for chief utility man--how many guys have a  homer off Clayton Kershaw on their résumé? But I suppose even that job is open, at least Orlando Calixte hopes so.

I'm not expecting any earth-shattering news out of camp and I'm tuning out all injury reports. I had enough of injured players last season. The key to the 2018 club is to get the talented guys on the field and keep them on the field! That's up to the gods, of course, and I've had my fill of them as well. So I'll face those issues with irrepressible American optimism and psychological defense mechanisms like denial.

It's still winter here in the State of Jefferson despite Spring's best efforts to ruin everything. My ski buddy and I traveled to Wyoming and Utah to find some powder and when we got home our local mountain (just over the Oregon border) came to life. I'm getting up early tomorrow for fresh tracks, hoping the 6-10" forecast comes true. It may be baseball weather in the desert but I want to squeeze out a few more weeks of cold and snow so I can get my fill on the slopes.

I'm excited about the upcoming season. I think the club did some good work in the off-season and worked creatively with the budget and the roster to make the needed improvements. As we found out in 2017 it can all go to shit in a hurry, but I like what I see and I expect a spirited pennant race.

Let me know your thoughts about the impending fight in the NL West and be sure to straighten me out on my personnel lists. Did I overlook anyone? The first real game isn't until the 29th of March (in LA vs. Dodgers) so there is plenty of time. Any stories coming out of Spring Training that we need to talk about?

As always, GO GIANTS!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Play Ball!

It was fourteen degrees Fahrenheit this morning according to the outdoor thermometer on my patio. I have a rule about such temperatures: I am in favor of them only if accompanied by precipitation. Alas, that's not been this winter's pattern. We've so little snow here that neither of our local ski parks are open. I don't hibernate in the winter--it's my active season. This year however I'm suffering only from grumpiness and have no nagging skiing injuries to report. Oh, how I wish my knees were aching and my quads were sore!

Perhaps when the rest of the world is flocking to Arizona and Florida for early-season baseball we'll get that snowfall we've been expecting. And I'll be a skiing fool for a few weeks and miss all the excitement. And there ought to be some excitement, don't you think? The Giants were just a hair short of being the worst team in the league last summer and all of us want to get rid of that horrid taste in our mouths. 2018 has to be better, am I right?

At least the organization did a few things to improve the odds. The everyday lineup has a new look what with veteran stalwarts like Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and Austin Jackson donning the orange-and-black. That should help the team on both sides of the ball. Obviously pitching is the most important thing and this year it is addition-by-not-subtraction. That is, they didn't bring in anyone new, they are just hoping the guys who missed all or part of last season will be able to pitch this season. Murphy's Law was the theme for 2017. Everything that could have gone wrong obviously did, and at the worst possible times. Do the Giants get a break from that? Only the gods can know for sure and they aren't telling.

I'm excited about the 2018 Giants. Then again I'm always excited when Spring Training starts. Hoping for the best is what fans do, and this is the time for it. I'm not ready yet for analysis, projections, or roster-bation. Those will come in due time. For now just the fact that the guys will be suiting up and tossing the ball around is good enough.


Sunday, February 4, 2018


The end of the Stupor Bowl marks the beginning of Baseball Season. To be fair, that was an exciting football game. But to be entirely honest, I only started watching in the second half and only really paid attention in the fourth quarter. Regardless, football is over and baseball begins.