Thursday, April 5, 2012

Roster reactions & a look at 2012

I have to say that for all the complaints we Giants fans may have from time to time, I cannot say that management is incompetent. Cheap? Sometimes. Gunshy of big free agents? Yes. But inept? Absolutely not. With the group that reported to Scottsdale this spring, I really believe the best 24 came back to The City with the team.

"But Dodgerhater, isn't it a 25 man roster, not a 24 man one?"

Yes, but you forgot about Zito.


Other than that waste of money, management did the best possible things to put the Giants in a position to win (with current talent) and to lock up the future (Cain).

I am a bit surprised that they designated Whiteside for assignment and traded Chris Stewart. Many believe that Hector Sanchez is too raw behind the plate to be counted on to play there 2-3 times a week as Buster does first base duty or gets a day off-- but here we are, for better or for worse.

Hey, I say it's for the better! Based on the way the kid is hitting and the way he skipped through the minors in a Sandovalesque fashion, why in the hell isn't it better? This offense has been too sickly and bitch for too many years. Finally Sabean and Bochy came to an agreement that they needed every single offensive weapon possible on the 25 man roster come Opening Day, and that's what happened.

Eli Whiteside, Mike Fontenot, and Chris Stewart-- you're all good guys and I wish you the best, but the guys that replaced you are just better with the lumber.

In regard to Whiteside, I will miss you the most, with your fitting white hair, your Mississippi Delta accent, and your Led Zeppelin entrance music. You were like a character out of a John Grisham/William Faulker book and I will miss you a little bit. Even if you never play another game in the big leagues, you helped us win a ring, and no one can take that away-- same with Fontenot.

The other surprises to me were that both Brandon Belt AND Brett Pill made the roster. The Giants are now loaded with first basemen, and I don't know how everyone will get ABs.

You'd think Huff is the primary, right? But is on a short leash, so if he sucks, he sucks, and that's the end of him. Grab a significant piece of pine, Meat.

Then there's Belt-- another lefty-- who seemingly has no place to play. Of course then there is Posey, the righty, who we have heard, nearly ad nauseum, will play there about twice a week, probably against lefties, while Belt sits.

But wait! There's more!

Nate Schierholtz can't hit!

That means what I just wrote got simpler and was completely pointless in writing and this article just took you 20 seconds longer to read than it should have!

It's looking like Nate Schierholtz and his cannon are now riding the pine, and HUFF is the one playing the OF. Whoa.

Look, it scares me too, but Huff will be playing LF-- not RF like he embarrassingly attempted to do early last season. He's not going to win any gold gloves out there, but at least against right handers, he adds some badly needed power (hopefully) to a lineup that desperately needs it.

There are three main lineups that Bochy will use:

Lineup #1: Right-handed starter

1) CF Pagan (S)/Blanco (L)
2) RF Melky Cabrera (S)
3) 3B Pablo Sandoval(S)
4) C Buster Posey (R)
5) LF Aubrey Huff (L)
6) 1B Brandon Belt (L)
7) SS Brandon Crawford (L)
8) 2B Emmanuel Burriss (S)

Note* - When Freddy Sanchez comes back, he hits 7th and Crawford hits 8th. I may be wrong and Crawford hits 8th from the get-go, but does it really matter?

Lineup #2: Left-handed starter w/Posey catching

1) CF Pagan (S)/Blanco (L)
2) RF Melky Cabrera (S)
3) 3B Pablo Sandoval (S)
4) C Buster Posey (R)
5) LF Aubrey Huff (L)
6) 1B Brett Pill (L)
7) SS Brandon Crawford (L)
8) 2B Emmanuel Burriss (S)

Lineup #3: Left-handed starter w/Posey playing 1B

1) CF Pagan (S)/Blanco (L)
2) RF Melky Cabrera (S)
3) 3B Pablo Sandoval (S)
4) 1B Buster Posey (R)
5) LF Aubrey Huff (L)
6) C Hector Sanchez (S)
7) SS Brandon Crawford (L)
8) 2B Emmanuel Burriss (S)

*Note - Depending how Crawford is hitting lefties (.133 against LHP in '11), don't be surprised to see Ryan Theriot (R) play 2B, and slide the switch-hitting Burriss over to short.

A few notes about all this...

-- Good God, do we have a lot of switch hitters! Five to be exact, but that is still crazy! (Pagan, Cabrera, Sandoval, H. Sanchez, Burriss).

-- Looks like the only time that Schierholtz will start will be to play RF against a righty when Huff is struggling or needs a day off, sliding Melky over to left.

-- Expect Bochy to play late-inning musical outfield every day with Schierholtz. We're used to it by now. The names have changed, the concept hasn't. Nate comes in for Huff, plays right field, and Cabrera moves to left. It will be a daily occurrence.

-- Can Melky play RF at AT&T as well as Nate? Well he's going to get a crash course in weirdness right away, and I hope to God that he's taking line drives off the archways as we speak so that he gets a feel for the caroms that the ball takes. As for the wind and the bullpen mound... well that comes only with trial and error, bud.

As for covering Triples Alley with Pagan or Blanco, yes, he is fast and covers a lot of ground. I don't think Melky will have any trouble chasing down fly balls to the deepest part of the yard.

-- Brandon Crawford is really important to the every day success of this team. We know the kid can field, but can he hit his weight? He's listed as 215 lbs.

Based on his stellar spring (18-54, .333/.410/.556, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 7 BB), I'd say he's capable of hitting at least .250. That seems to be everyone's wish. All I read about is "If Crawford can only hit .250, they'll be okay..."

Based on how awful he was at the dish last year, .250 would be awesome, but let's raise the bar a little bit higher than that.

I believe Crawford's contributions with that bat are the difference between making the playoffs and not. It's that important.

-- Who will replace Zito when he inevitably sucks?

Eventually it will be either Eric Surkamp or Yadsl;fknc,i Petit. Surkamp had his Spring cut short when he strained the flexor tendon in his elbow about a week ago. That sounds like he won't be ready for a minimum of 3 weeks-- probably around the time that Zito has fallen to 0-3 with a 9.00.

Right now, the guy that is first in line is the healthy Yusmeiro Petit. I rather enjoy hitting random keys after the capital 'Y' in his name, but I looked up how to spell it anyway.

Petit, a former Diamondback, last pitched in the bigs in '09 with Arizona, and wound up with a 5.82 ERA. He apparently blew out his shoulder, wound up in Oaxaca pitching in front of donkey carts, then ended up back in Venezuela pitching in front of Socialists and Giants hitting instructor Hensley Meulens. The rest is history. Check out the whole story from Baggs here.

The guy has pitched well in Spring, so bottom line, with Vogelsong on the DL for a few weeks, Surkamp out for a few weeks, and Zito sucking more than usual, Yadlfncamds;' Petit may be making a start for the Gyros sooner rather than later.

-- Also noted in that Andrew Baggarly article at is that one of the guys that Petit pitched against in the Venezuelan Winter League was none other than Gregor Blanco, the speedy outfielding surprise that made the roster.

I don't know much about the left-handed Blanco other than the guy is major steal threat and plays a great OF. Also, apparently his nickname is "Tiburon Blanco". And for the 3 of you that are new to California, that means "White Shark".

Get it together people.

With Angel Pagan sucking big time thus far as a Giant, not getting on base, and making us miss Andres Torres and his Puerto Rican porno walkup music, there is a growing contingent of people that believe Angel Pagan will be overtaken by Blanco sooner rather than later as the starting CF.

The contingent begins with the all-important Me, and also includes KNBR's Larry Krueger and apparently (but subtly) CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly.

Blanco's career stats aren't a lot to go by, but he holds a career .358 on base percentage and has safely stolen 26 out of 35 bases. In the OF, he has 12 outfield assists versus only 4 errors. Hey, I'll take it.

I have minimal rational reasons for why I think Blanco will usurp Pagan's spot. I basically think Pagan sucks and is a 4th OF at best. I also think that Pagan's name is obnoxious. It's like, okay, you're an angel AND a pagan? Pick one or the other dude...

Obviously we can speculate all day about what will happen and who will be awesome or who will suck. We don't have all day. We have TV to watch and work to go to and food to eat. With that said, Opening Day couldn't have come soon enough, and I'm looking forward to another maddeningly amazing year of Giants baseball.

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