Archive for March 2012

Some Comments on the San Francisco Giants as Spring Training Winds Down

March 28, 2012

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I probably say it again:  Spring Training really doesn’t do that much for me.  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the weather isn’t so terrible, I need to escape to Florida or Arizona.

More importantly, Spring Training always seems like a time of unrequited expectation, as the real season is close enough to taste but isn’t here yet, and in the meantime I have to suffer through of a month of few deals or trades happening and the same old media articles to the effect that every team has a shot in the upcoming season, all the anticipated youngsters look so promising and the grizzled veterans hoping to have one more good season just might.

Now that I’ve gotten my annual gripe out of the way, it seems like a good time for personal musings on the upcoming Giants season.

Sure hope the Giants keep Hector Sanchez and dump either Chris Stewart or Eli Whiteside.  Neither Whiteside or Stewart has ever been any good.  All they’ve ever had going for them is being at the right place at the right time and the Giants loving veteran players the way they do.

Sanchez, on the other hand, has a real opportunity to become a star (although it looks like he needs to get on the Panda weight loss plan — he’s listed as 5’11” and 225 lbs, which is pretty big for 22 year old).

The fact is that under no circumstances should Posey being playing catcher every day.  Also, if Posey develops as a hitter, at some point the Giants will have to move him out from behind the plate to 1st or 3rd, where he can play free of the grinding injuries that come with being a catcher.  In that case, the Giants are going to need another catcher that can hit a little.

In the more immediate term, if Posey gets hurt, I’d much rather see Sanchez step in, rather than giving more than 400 plate appearances to the likes of Stewart and Whiteside, like the Giants did last year after Posey got hurt.  Is it any wonder the Giants couldn’t score last year?

Brandon Belt, Manny Burriss and Brandon Crawford all have to make the team after their strong Springs.  Brett Pill has hit for a ton of power (.576 SLG.) but he won’t take a walk, resulting in an .867 OPS, good but still nearly 200 points below Belt’s.  There’s no way in the world Pill makes the team out of Spring Training absent an injury to Belt or Huff.

I’d like to see Gregor Blanco get rewarded for his fine Spring, but I don’t see the Giants giving up on Nate Schierholtz until Nate plays like crap for at least four weeks into the regular season.

It’s starting to look like Ryan Theriot is going to make the decision to cut him a lot easier than it was looking a week ago.

It’s also extremely gratifying to see catcher Tommy Joseph and SS Joe Panik get some hits in limited playing time before getting sent to minor league camp.  They’re both still a long way from the majors, but the Giants and their fans have high hopes for these top draft picks, so it’s good to see them flash some talent.

Among the pitchers, one who really stands out to me is Dan Otero.  He’s been pitching well in the minors for some time (he has an outrageous 1.90 career minor league ERA), but a costly injury in 2010 has prevented him from breaking through into the big leagues yet.  I’d love to see him get a chance.

However, Otero was a 21st round draft, and those guys have to earn everything they get.  He’s also now 27 years old, which doesn’t make him much of a prospect.  The only thing he has going for him is that he clearly knows how to pitch.

Heath Hembree has also had a great spring, and he’s a lot younger than Otero.  He’s definitely a prospect, and someone worth keeping an eye on for future reference.

Very sorry to hear that Eric Surkamp has undergone an MRI for elbow soreness.  He’s about the only prospect the Giants have for a 5th starter once Zito finally proves to the world (and then the Giants) that he’s through.

Surkamp’s injury, along with Vogelsong’s back problems and slow rehap, virtually assures that we will have to suffer through at least five or six brutal Zito outings during the regular season, before the Giants finally call a spade a dirty shovel and eat the remainder of Zito’s contract.  The happiest guy in the world has got to be Brian Burres, who suddenly has an excellent chance of making the team out of Spring Training as the Giants’ fifth starter.

In light of the problems with Surkamp’s arm, it’s more than a little surprising the Giants released veteran Ramon Ortiz yesterday.  Ortiz had a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 IP with good peripheral numbers.

According to mlbtraderumors.com, the Giants would have had to pay Ortiz an additional $100,000 if they’d held onto him any longer.  Still, that doesn’t sound like a lot for a veteran who had been pitching well this Spring.

Perhaps Ortiz’s release means Matt Yourkin, who has also pitched well this Spring, has a chance of making the club out of Spring Training.  However, the only thing that recommends Yourkin over Ortiz is that the former is a little cheaper.

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