Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Don't get used to the Long Ball!"

A lot has transpired over the last week down in spring training...

A triple play... Zito pitched a good game...A homerun hitter who says he doesn't hit homeruns... a reliever was cut...then resigned... a minor league trade with major league implications (I silently scream WOOHOO to this one)...Zito pitched a good game... the search is on for a long reliever... the offense is producing exactly to the inverse of their MLB service credit...the WBC...well, we have Sanchez back now, are any Giants fans still watching?...Zito pitched a good game... Sandoval is tough...the Manny & Franny show is heating up...Buster is making a statement...So is Madison...Timmy Jr is not... and Who's at Short?

Oh yeah, did I mention... BARRY ZITO PITCHED A GOOD GAME!!!

Well, it seemed like a lot as I was sifting through all the info, maybe it is anyway. Let's take a look.

Ryan Rohlinger started what turned out to be a triple play today on a ball hit by Oakland's Bobby Crosby. Not that it has any significance on how good the defense may or may not be, but noteworthy never-the-less. A Triple play just shouts Baseball at it's most basic,most fundimental level, as it is one of the most rare of all plays.

Travis Ishikawa broke out of his mini slumpin a big way today with 2 homeruns and a single, bringing his spring total to 5 along with 10 RBI's. As Henry Shulman pointed out, Ishi had 27 total homeruns last year, but when interviewing him after todays game, Travis said he's not a homerun type hitter and for the fans to not get used to it. I have news for you Travis, too late! You may not want the pressure, but you can't take away the fact that you actually hit 27 homeruns last year...11 more than team leader Bengie Molina. Fans have gravitated towards Ishi because he represents hope and promise and youth. No one is expecting Ishi to take the league by storm,or even be the 3rd best hitter on the team for that matter, but we do get to hope. Along with a defense that the Giants won't have seen since JT Snow (not that he will be that good), but a 20+ homerun, .260 BA season given 500 AB's is not too much to expect...and it will be an improvement overall.

Keiichi Yabu was released Friday after already being optioned to AAA 2 weeks ago. Yabu posted pretty good numbers last season for being plucked from obscurity and teetering on elderly. Factoring in his age of 40, the apparent need for Long Relief due to wanting to keep 11 pitchers, and the question of what to do with Andres Torres and Jesus Guzman, presumably he was simply caught in a numbers game along the lines of the 40 man roster...

Keiichi Yabu was resigned today to a minor league deal and thought as a possibility to rejoin the 40man roster later this season if the 11 man thing fails or injuries add up. I smell a change is a comin at the major league level, and not the pitching...

Lefty just dropped a tidbit at the end of his latest post that a minor league trade with the White Sox just happened. Apparently the Giants will recieve SS Sergio Santos for future considerations. Andrew Baggerly thinks he will be the starting SS at AAA Fresno...because Manny Burriss looks like he will make the team... Oh Yeah... I want to see this happen. It's tough, because Manny has shown enough promise at Short to make me believe he can be the SS of the future and a season in Fresno might be perfect for him, yet I want the Giants to win and win now.How can you argue with his spring and performance on the big club last spring...More on this later...

Suddenly, all the Giants off season bullpen work doesn't look like enough. From a group including Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affedlt, Bobby Howry, Sergio Romo, Alex Hinshaw, Merkin Valdez, Jack Taschner, Keiichi Yabu, & Billy Sadler, along with Brandon Medders, Osiris Matos, Justin Miller, Luis Perdomo, & Ramon Ortiz, I thought surely the Giants would have a quality pen out of the gate, maybe top 5 in the NL. Suddenly they are shopping though. An injury to Valdez last year isn't healed... Romo is hurt and could be out longer than expected... Hinshaw is running through sophmore struggles... Howry looks old (well, he kind of is) even though he's been effective thus far... Taschner seems to think walks are a good thing... Yabu is gone, kind of... Sadler is showing his minor league stuff, I think he forgot which camp he is still in... Ortiz really was washed up 5 years ago... and Perdomo looks like a rule 5 draftee for a reason... Now, the last three (Matos, Miller, & Medders) have been nothing short of unstoppable, but that is against late inning spring training hitters and there is the continuing theme of 40 man roster spots. Still, an out is an out... Let's see, that leaves us with a closer and two setup men, a minor leaguer with 20.3 total big league innings of so-so pitching, and two non-roster invitees. What to do with the staff?

This must be the reason why the Giants have recently been linked to Will Ohman, who wants about $1.75 mil for this year, plus incentives. I don't see the problem with that, MAKE IT HAPPEN SABES! As well as the daily rumors regarding wanting a long reliever. Indeed they would need a inning eater/spot starter who can chew up 4-6 innings if needed. They have a few options in Pat (ughh) Misch or Joe Martinez, but both would be better suited starting in AAA. I can see a trade involving a few of the players mentioned like Eugenio Velez or Jack Taschner. There is not much left on the FA market and you're not gonna convince Pedro Martinez to be the 6th starter, so a trade should be in order. On second thought, if they can't find a good match now and go with Ughh or Martinez, they may have plenty of options in a month or two with potential blockbuster trade chips...again, more on that later.

Have you noticed how the offense is doing. Staggering to me is WHO is producing, not as much HOW. I'm going to write on this next in more detail, but for now... The best hitters on the team are the guys making the least money and off the 40 man roster, followed by the guys fighting to make the team, followed by the guys who should be on the team,followed by the guys who make the most and we couldn't rid ourselves of very easily or at all... What I mean is, a potential problem.

The WBC... Puerto Rico is out... The Giants are together again... Opening day is 17 days away... ... ... Oh yeah, Team USA is still in it. Horray... Sorry to them though, I'd trade a WBC title for a World Series title ANYDAY... Still, I have to admit, it's been fun to watch.Any Baseball is good baseball...Well,there was that one day my sophmore year of HS when we beat Grant HS 43-1 in 4 innings. That wasn't very good baseball. But I am a fan of the WBC,I just don't want it interfering with my Giants. And then there is rooting against team USA for a few innings the other night until the Puerto Rican coach pulled Sanchez and made me not feel like such a traitor anymore... But I just don't think it's right the way it is. Something has to change in it. Not sure what yet, but I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Pablo Sandoval got popped in the mouth by a hard smash to third. This just in, he's tough. Afterward, Sandoval said he liked the experience. Awesome, my kind of attitude. He may not be the most graceful 3B we've ever had, nor the best, but at least we won't be able to attribute any mistakes to being scared of the hot corner. I mean, he's a freakin catcher for shit's sake, he shouldn't be scared. Still, with that attitude, I can see him getting much better.

"What's on Second?" Seems like that is the question of the spring. The most competitive job on the club at first seemed to have implications of one would start in Frisco and the other in Fresno. Not so fast... Emmanuel Burriss & Kevin Frandsen have performed so well, they have their own show now... "Manny & Franny"... Really, the fact is they have both performed remarkably well this spring and have put Bruce Bochy and his staff in a tough spot. Right now, there is no favorite. It is in a good way at least. They have also created a problem for Brian Sabean. Baring a complete and utter collapse, both players have earned a spot on the big club, something the Giants undoubtedly didn't expect. The plan all winter once Renteria was signed, was to have Burriss start the season at Fresno, and try to be the Giants starter there next year... Well, that plan is out the window now. Now the real problem is which players are going to be expendable, considering outside of the two of them, Sandoval, Ishikawa, and Lewis, the best offensive players have been the non roster invitees, Guzman & Torres. Stay tuned.

A noteworthy observation unlikely to have an impact on the opening day roster, but could totally change the dynamic of the team come November, and quite possibly July. Buster Posey is tearing up spring training, both offensively and defensively.... Madison Bumgarner is virtually unhittable, but in a smaller sample size from Posey... Tim Alderson is NOT!!!

Posey is looking like he may be ready this year after all. He wont make the team, but he is hitting .421/.435/.789 in 19 AB's, and has displayed more power than anyone expected, hitting a ball 435'. His defense has been even more spectacular, saving a run on a difficult block and another on a running catch. What is significant here is a hot start to the minor league season would likely prompt the Giants to let Molina walk after the season instead of trying for a one year deal. I could see them also looking to deal Molina come the summer as Molina likes it here and at his age, physical prowess, and the current FA economy, he will likely be a Type A FA and except the Arb offer to stay...Bumgarner could do the same. No one expects another Lincecum type vaulting through the minors, but if he gets hot early, and one of the pitchers goes down, I see the Giants could possibly make Sanchez, or,god hlp me, Matt Cain available....Alderson just ooks like a guy not quite ready for the competition. He will be better served on the slow track for this year. He has great stuff, but is nervous and unconfident this spring. Just as a kid should be when facing these guys at his age.

Zito dropped an interesting statement when talking about the infield. "Who's at Short?" Some of the reporters have taken it as a potential jab at Renteria, or a sign that maybe he doesn't own the job. I think those are a little overblown and it's more of Zito being surprised that all the questioning was good spirited and non confrontational after his good outing, as well as most of the questions being directed towards second. He's probably so used to defending himself, he tried a joke and it sailed right over their heads...But it got me thinking. Maybe Renteria isn't as long for this team as we thought. He really is only signed for this season, as next year is a team option. Given the Manny & Franny show going on, is it possible Sabean is rethinking the decision to sign Renteria. I think it's entirely possible that the Giants entertain offers for him this summer as they watch the season unfold, and if Burriss continues his play, we could see a deal, regardless of the teams record...

On that note, It is entirely possible the Giants trade Molina, Renteria, an Randy Winn this season, and still stay competitive...Maybe we will actually see the farm bare it's fruit in '09 instead of '10.

And last but certainly not least...Barry Zito pitched a good game the other day... 6 IN, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 ER. I'll take that EVERY DAY!!! Scouts sound confused as to whether the radar gun was reading 81-83 or 83-85 MPH. Either way, not real fast, but i'll take the faster one if I get to choose. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a fan of Zito. I want his to win so bad. I think he can bounce back. I like his attitude and determination. He's a good teammate and a hard worker. He hasn't lost his ability due to being lazy. But he still has that contract and has to live up to it. Sure, the Giants would be thrilled to have a 14 win season with him as a 4th starter, but that isn''t what they planned on. Zito needs to keep working and trying, and we need to stay on top of him. We'll folllow him closely throughout the season and keep you posted.

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