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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Team Brought Back to Reality In Arizona

The Giants rolled into Arizona Friday afternoon, fresh in the midst of an eight game winning streak, and pretty much clicking on all cylinders. The team actually held sole possession of first place by about 3 percentage points over the Dodgers. My how so much can change so quickly. This team was swept by Arizona, and although all the games were close, the Giants play looked exactly like it did during the season's first two weeks. The bullpen blew another game in which Matt Cain was lined up to get the win in on Saturday, and it looked awfully like the way they blew it in Colorado a few weeks ago. There wasn't the blatant misplay like the Linden dropped fly ball, but there was a key ground ball that snuck in between Ryan Klesko and Rich Aurilia, a ball that most infield's eat up. We all know what happened after that as Vinny Chulk was summoned from the pen and served up a first pitch jack to Scott Hairston. The bullpen had been pitching so well up to that point, throwing 18 straight scoreless innings. It wasn't all the bullpens' fault though, the offense, although they showed a little bit of pop, couldn't get runners in from scoring position at all. Omar Vizquel had an especially bad series, as he continues to struggle offensively here early on. That is one guy who will be happy to see the calendar turn to May. Ray Durham is another guy who hasn't been getting it done with runners on base. He looked a lot better Sunday, but came up short in crucial situations on Friday and Saturday. Good baseball teams don't lose the games that the Giants lost this weekend.

There were, however, a few positives to take out of this series. Matt Cain had another 1 hit performance, although it wasn't his best start of the year. Barry Zito also had another quality start Friday night, but the offense couldn't support his 7 inning, 3 run outing. The offense struggles have been in no part due to Barry Bonds. The dude continues to rope the ball, even with the limited amount of pitches he is seeing. He was walked a total of 6 times over the weekend, and only started two of the games. Bonds raised his average to .362 and has a ridiculous 1.353 OPS. I know it's only April, but can you say, MVP? Randy Winn also flashed some power this weekend and it looks like he is finally slipping out of his early season slump that had him right around .200 for the season's first 3 weeks. Winn added about 30 points to his batting average over the weekend and hit his first home run of the season. If Winn can get going, it would help this offense out tremendously. With Rich Aurilia starting to cool off, the offense needs other guys to start stepping up. I think it would be wise for Bochy to consider swapping Randy Winn and Omar Vizquel for a while to see if it can spark some action at the top of the lineup. Winn showed what he was capable of when the Giants picked him up in 2005. While I don't think he's as good as he showed then, I do think he is better than he showed last season. If Winn keeps doing what he did this past weekend, he may end up finding himself in the 3rd spot sooner or later.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bochy Pushing All the Right Buttons

The Giants bullpen has turned it around. The laughing stock of the team and of the division is actually starting to perform. They have been pretty stingy since that Colorado game where they blew a brilliant start by Matt Cain and allowed 5 runs in 2 innings of work. A huge amount of the credit has to go to Bruce Bochy. This dude knows how to use his pen. After the first series of the season, every Giants fan on the face of the earth was looking for Jack Taschner's (among others) demotion after he gave up a game winning home run on opening night. Instead of panicking, Bochy knew, that whether he liked it or not, this is the bullpen he'd be stuck with for the season, so he had to make it work. Instead of getting down on the them, he has given all his relievers a vote of confidence, both through the media and to them individually. They are all responding terrifically. Jack Taschner has even mentioned how much it helped him to hear the vote of confidence coming from the manager. It's no coincidence that Taschner has been untouched since giving up that home run. The difference in the way Felipe Alou used his bullpen and the way Bochy is using it, is night and day. One thing Bochy has done that Alou never did, is let his relievers work out of jams. Another thing that Bochy doesn't do all the time is make a change based on the lefty/righty match ups. I still have my questions about the Giants pen, but things have gone a lot smoother than I had envisioned. Bochy also seems to know when and when not to play certain players. After a sluggish offensive start in which the team scored only 20 runs through their first 9 games, Bochy made it clear to the players struggling that he isn't afraid to sit them down. The offense has responded big time as they have score 43 runs over their last 9 contests.

The Giants' starting pitching has not been a fluke. I think it's really this good. While I don't think they'll keep the 2.67 era that they've had through the first month, all season, they are going to be a force. It's obvious Matt Morris was hurt last year because he's a different pitcher this season. I'd keep him this year, especially since he's on pace for an 18-20 win season. If he can win 15-17 games, he could be worth a ton this winter, and that's very possible. It will be tough for the team to keep Tim Lincecum in the Minors with him throwing the way he is, but I think this team is better off right now with the rotation as is and Lincecum keeps dominating in Fresno. Morris is another guy who has a lot to prove after he struggled through his first season with the Giants. So far the big question marks as far as the pitching staff is concerned, (Morris, Russ Ortiz and Armando Benitez) it's been so far so good.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bonds Dominating Again

After Barry Bonds struggle through the first half of last season, through times when his batting average dipped into the .230's, there where plenty of questions regarding this guys health, and whether or not he was finished. Bonds finally rebounded in the second half of the year last season putting some of those questions to rest, but there where still plenty of doubters. The doubters have to be biting their tongue now, Bonds is back. He has been nothing short of spectacular early on in the 2007 season, looking as healthy and fresh as he has in 3 years. Love him or hate him, he'd likely be your 2007 NL MVP if the season ended right now. His bat along with the tremendous starting pitching the team has gotten over the seasons' first 3 weeks has taken the Giants from a sorry, 2-7 ball club, and turned them into a respectable 9-8 team. If you take away that heartbreaking loss suffered in Colorado after Matt Cains' last start, this team would be riding an 8 game winning streak. Arguably the teams' two most valuable components were again at their best Sunday as Matt Cain lowered his era to a measly 1.55, and Bonds hit his 6th home run of the year. Cain has now gone 3 consecutive starts allowing 3 hits or less and 1 run or less. Cain doesn't get the hype that other guys, but this is the best pitcher under the age of 25 going right now, sorry Felix Hernandez fans. Bonds now has 6 home runs in 46 official at-bats, and has 740 in his career. That is the kind of ratio he was hitting them at during his MVP years. The best thing about these home runs, is that he's hitting them when the team is needing them the most. Almost all of Bonds' home runs this season have either tied a game, or put the Giants ahead in a game. The Giants haven't had this kind of bat in their lineup since Bonds was healthy in 2004 and it's no coincidence they are now also playing there best ball since 2004. As Barry Bonds goes, so go the Giants. If Barry plays MVP ball all year long like he is right now, this team has good enough pitching and enough defense to win this division.

I know this is a San Francisco Giants Blog, and I won't normally touch on subjects outside of baseball, but I have to give some major props to the Golden State Warriors. The W's made the playoffs for the first time since I was 10 years old, so this is big news in the Bay Area. I'm not expecting much from them as they are squaring off against the Western Conferences' best in the Dallas Mavericks, but this Warriors have owned them all year, so It wouldn't be a complete shock to see the Mavs struggle. The W's are going to have to play their pace of basketball and exploit mis-matches vs. the Mavs if they are going to do the unthinkable.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, April 20, 2007

Starting Pitching Continues to Shine

I can't even began to think where this team would be if they hadn't gotten gotten such solid starting pitching through the first 2 weeks of the season. After another solid performance from Noah Lowry Thursday afternoon, the teams' starting pitchers combined era fell to 2.77. Luckily for Lowry, the offense decided to show up after getting down early, and the team provided solid run support with a lineup that did not include Barry Bonds. The Giants predicted strength coming in was the starting pitching, and they have lived up to the billing. They have bailed out a slow starting Giants' offense that as a team has less home runs than Alex Rodriguez does himself through April 20th. Something the team is going to be challenged with, is coming up with enough runs to be competitive on nights when Bonds is not in the lineup. Another thing this team is going to be challenged with, is coming back in games, as they are not an offensive power house. When they do both of those things in the same game, it's almost like 2 wins in 1, and they did it Thursday. This came a day after they battled back nicely to win the game in extra innings after getting down 4-1 early. The offense is finally starting to show some signs of life. This weekends series is going to be a big one for the Giants. They are in a position to get back to .500, and they have a chance to really improve there status in the division with the D-Backs rolling into town. Keep on eye on Russ Ortiz's start on Friday night, the Diamondbacks are still paying the Ortiz a nice amount of money. They could lose to someone on their own payroll.

Brian Sabean told the KNBR this week that Tim Lincecum could be up with the big league squad sooner than anyone expected. Lincecum has flat out dominated the Pacific Coast League hitters through his first 3 starts of the year. He has allowed no runs, 9 hits and 5 walks on his way to striking out 28 batters in 18 2/3 innings. You think he's ready for the bigs yet? Even Matt Cain didn't baffle AAA level hitters like Lincecum has, and look how easy his transition has been to the major leagues. I don't think there is any question that he's ready, but I would like to see him stay in Fresno keep starting rather then rush him up to try and help out a struggling bullpen. I know the talent levels are not comparable, but the situation I fear is the Giants using Lincecum like they did Merkin Valdez. They couldn't decide whether they wanted to start him or use him to close, and they ended up getting neither. Wherever Lincecum is, keep him in the rotation.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Team Needs Changes in a Hurry

Why Pedro Feliz is still playing is beyond me. The Giants need to bite the bullet and sit him down already. The only time he should ever see the field is when a weak left-handed pitcher is throwing, or as a late inning defensive replacement. Even the casual fan can tell how much this guy hurts this team, and Sabean panicked into giving him double his salary from the previous season. What a waste of a crucial 5.1 million dollars on a guy who wouldn't start for any other team in baseball, yet he is the starting 3rd basemen on a team who's payroll is in the top 1/3 of the league. This all adds up to horrible, absolutely terrible player personal decisions. Of all the Brian Sabean signings over the years, even including the Niefi Perez resigning, this has got to be Sabeans' worst signing yet. He gave a guy a bundle of money to start when that guy has already proven over the years, that he has no business belonging in an everyday lineup unless it's with some semi-pro team. It doesn't get worse than that. At least when Sabean gave that bad contract to Edgardo Alfonzo and even Armado Benitez, those guys where proven players, who were going to get a contract somewhere, they just didn't/haven't worked out with the Giants. Feliz would have been lucky to get a deal that matched his last one (2 yr. 4.5 million) from any team, but the Giants gave him more than that for one year, to start. I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse hear, but I just still cannot fathom that move.

Matt Cain has now pitched two absolute gems in row, and has nothing but a loss to show for them. I guess he'll just have to realize that with this pen, only chance at him finally getting a W is to do it all yourself. The bullpen will get credited for blowing that game Tuesday night in Colorodo, with a nice assist to Todd Linden, but it was once again the offense's inefficiency that allowed the game to be so close that late. The Giants had numerous opportunities to put the Rockies away with the bats, but in the second half of the game, they reverted to the way they started the season. The bats looked tired, and couldn't come up with a hit with runners in scoring position to save their lives. Bruce Bochy had been working with Feliz on using to right side of the field in order to move runners along from second base in key situations. Of course, Bengie Molina leads off an inning with a double. Up next, Pedro Feliz. The Giants never got Molina in that inning, Feliz failed to get him to 3rd base, and so on and so on. Again, I don't blame this on Feliz, I blame this on Brian Sabean. So yeah, take your shots at the bullpen, they do stink, and they are a major problem, but it's not like the Giants didn't have options. The man who put this thing together has to take all the blame, 100% of it.

SABEANS' GOT TA GO. ASAP. NOW.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, April 16, 2007

Zito Gets First Win As a Giant

The Giants' 126 million dollar man finally got into the win column in his 3rd start of the season and the Giants' bats continued to come through even after being grounded for a few days in Pittsburgh. Finally a Giant not named Barry Bonds connected for a long ball as the Giants hit two Coors Field aided home runs. Ray Durham and Bengie Molina hit the first back-to-back home runs of the 2007 Giants season, with Ray's being the one that really put the Rockies down early. Ray Durham has now hit safely in all of the Giants 11 games. But the story of the night had to be Zito as he shut down the potent Rockies lineup for 6 innings. Zito got some great defense from Omar Vizquel and Pedro Feliz to help him with his scoreless effort, but this was by far the best the Giants have seen of Zito so far in '07. He seemed to have pretty good command of all his pitches, especially his changeup. So much is made over Zito's big 12 to 6 curveball, that sometimes you forget what a good changeup he has. He had the Rockies off balance numerous times on that changeup Monday night getting weak grounders hit all over the infield. Besides Todd Helton, who owns Zito, the Rockies didn't look too comfortable at the plate, and that's what I was most impressed with. Anytime you can roll into Coors field and throw 6 shutout innings up on the board, and do it rather easily, that's a damn good outing. The bullpen closed things out with 3 shutout innings as well to help preserve a rare Rockies shutout at Coors Field.

One important thing that needs to happen early is that the bullpen needs to get some kind of structure, and it looks like we may be seeing it. It seems like Bochy is confident in using Kevin Corriea, Vinny Chulk and Steve Kline as his late relievers, with Corriea likely getting the nod to set up. I like Corriea in the 8th inning. He seems like the toughest Giant reliever for opposing batters to hit, plus he has the capability to strike people out, which is crucial as a late reliever. One thing the Giants haven't had over the last 2 years is a set order there relievers are used, something that Bruce Bochy was so good at in San Diego. A big reason why the Padres have had such a successful bullpen over the years is because they have all been used in the same type roles for a while. I know the Giants haven't had the best resources to assign a set 7th, 8th and 9th inning guy, but you still have to try and get some structure, and it looks like Bochy is starting to do that with the Giants.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, April 13, 2007

BATS WAKE UP IN PITTSBURGH

The Giants turned in their best offensive performance of the young 2007 season on Friday night scoring 8 runs in Pittsburgh and beating the Pirates ace Zach Duke. The 3 run home run by Chris Duffy late made the score a lot closer than the game was. After a pathetic series in San Diego in which the Giants scored in only 1 game out of 3, they needed to get something going early in Pittsburgh and they did. Barry Bonds looked a lot better Friday as well as he turned in his first multi home run game of the year going 3-3 with 2 jacks and 4 RBI. When Bonds is swinging it like he did on Friday, it usually means good things for the Giants. Bonds was hitting .192 with 1 homer and 4 rbi heading into the game Friday, and left in the 4th inning with 3 home runs and 8 RBI's on the season. He showed that he is still capable of having what other players would call a good week, in one night. Besides the solid offensive output, Russ Ortiz turned in a very solid performance, and was one strike away from his first complete game since 2004. He did give up a 3 run home run in the ninth, but with the game already out of reach, and Ortiz collected his first major league win since August 2005. Ortiz was in the zone all night, striking out 7 and only walking 1. And to still think the D-Backs are paying this guy millions to pitch for the Giants just makes it all that much sweeter.

The Giants looked good in all facets of the game Friday, even the coaching staff. Although I have questioned some of Bruce Bochy's decisions early on, I do like the confidence he shows in his players, and I like how he's not afraid to mix things up if they aren't going well. Todd Linden was moved up into the #2 spot Friday, and the move payed off in the Giants 5 run first inning. I would have liked to see Bonds get 1 more at bat to try and hit his 3rd home run of the night, but I understand why Bochy brought him out in the 4th inning. With that cold weather in the Pittsburgh right now, and the game out of reach, I have no problem resting Bonds the second half of the game. Plus, I like the confidence he showed in Ortiz in letting him stay out that extra batter in effort to earn a complete game. He knew how much this game meant to Ortiz, and he did everything he could without Overall, it was a very refreshing victory for the Giants. Sure they are now only 3-7, but for the first time in 2007, the Giants looked like a good baseball team.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, April 09, 2007

Giants Lose 4th Straight

I can't really say anything more about this team right now than what I have posted over the last few days, so this post will be pretty short and to the point. The offense continues to be a laughing stock, and the starting pitching continues to dazzle. Two of the Giants' best players, Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel, are in the 40's, and as great as they've been over the years, they are finally starting to look like it. When two of players you are counting on the most are not playing like they have in the past, it makes it tough to win. The Giants haven't even given their bullpen a chance to blow a lead since Thursday night, so you can't pin these 4 straight losses on them. Matt Cain was brilliant again Monday night, and although he was a little wild at times, he proved why he is one of the toughest pitchers to hit in all of baseball. Cain has no taken a no hitter into at least the 6th inning 6 times in his first 40 career starts. I think it's pretty safe to say that this kid is going to get that elusive no-no someday, probably sooner than later. It was a shame to see this offense lay an egg after watching his performance Monday night. Even the Royals or Nationals could support an effort like the one that Cain gave. All they needed to do was score 1 run. Cain once again toyed with a no-hitter, taking one into the 7th inning, only to have Kahlil Greene, the newest "Giant Killer", break up the no-hit bid, and eventually the scoreless game with a double. Greene was also the guy who touched Cain for the first run back on opening night, hitting a solo home jack in the 6th inning. Now the Giants are off to a 1-6 start, and all I keep hearing is how the 2000 team started off 0-6. I can't even began to get into home much more of a complete team that 2000 version of the Giants was compared to this team.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Giants Offense Non-Existent

The season isn't even a week old yet, and things are already going about as bad as they can for the Giants. In my last post I pointed out that the only positive at that point was the play of Barry Bonds. Now the only positive thing I can say about watching the last few games is that everybody is healthy. Say what you want about the bullpen, or the questionable outfield defense, but the real reason behind the Giants 1-4 start is that they have scored only 10 runs through five games. If you take away the botched pop up that Kevin Kouzmanoff and Termel Sledge fell all over each other on, we would be looking at an 0-5 team. If that play was made, it also would have wiped another 3 runs off of the Giants season total. I thought inserting Ryan Klesko into the lineup would have had some effect, but this team looks just as stale with him in there as they do without. They are going to struggle even with Barry Bonds in the lineup, but when he needs to take his weekly day of rest like he did on Saturday, this team has very little chance winning. This has to be discouraging to the Giants. Early or not, this team looks pretty darn bad, and if they don't watch out, they are going to drop too far below .500 to have a chance at making it back. If the Giants get down early, they do not have the offense to battle back into games, especially against teams with any kind of bullpen.

One area in which you cannot blame for the Giants' early struggles is their starting pitching. Coming into the year, the Giants starters were supposed to be the strength of their team and they have been so far. All five starters have had one start now, and all starters allowed 3 or less runs in at least 5 innings pitched. Some of those outings could have been longer if Bruce Bochy wasn't forced to pinch hit in order to try and ignite some offense. I'm not saying the starting pitching has been brilliant, but it has been good enough to win, and that's all you ask it to be. Matt Morris' win on Thursday was huge for him. After that bad year last season and a horrible early spring, a victory in his first start should help his confidence. Many people, including myself, expect better out of Morris this year and were going to get it. Some people are concerned with Matt Cain's knack for giving up the long ball after his first start, but I am not worried at all. If you look around the league and check out some of the first stars other pitchers came up with, you have to be feeling good about the Giants' rotation. I don't think I have ever seen such a good rotation surrounded by such a bad cast.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bonds The Only Bright Spot Early

I know you can't get too up or down after the first two games of the season, but if it hadn't been for Bonds' brilliance in the first couple games, this team would give optimism to nobody. In the midst of the 0-2 start and the sketchy managing by Bruce Bochy, Barry Bonds has looked as good as he has in 4 years. I haven't seen him make a catch like the one he made in Wednesday's game in a long, long time. After seeing him steal a base with ease on opening day, then coming back and running down that ball is a sign that this guy feeling good as well. And Bonds' swing on the opposite field jack off Chris Young was a little off balance, but that reminded me of the Bonds of pre-2005. It looked so effortless for him just to flick the ball out of the ballpark the opposite way, off balance or not. If the first two games are any indication of what kind of year he's going to have, than we are in for another Barry Bonds' type season. He may not hit 40 home runs, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him hit .330 with 30 jacks. The only other positive that I can think of taking out of the first couple games was Armondo Benitez's outing. No, it wasn't a save situation, but Benitez's arm looks the best that it has since he put on a Giants' uniform. He didn't have a perfect ninth, but his pitches had life and you could tell that he wasn't an easy at bat for the Padres' hitters. The Giants aren't as bad as they have showed in their first two games. They looked a lot better Wednesday night than they did on opening day so let's see if they can turn it into a W on Thursday. It would be a nice confidence builder for everyone if Matt Morris can be the stopper tonight.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Giants Exposed in Opener

Barry Zito made his highly anticipated Giants' debut Tuesday, but the start of the '07 season looked a lot like how the '06 season ended. The Giants where shut down from start to finish by Jake Peavy and the Padres, losing 7-0. The only hits they got off Peavy where a check swing single by Barry Bonds, a swinging bunt by Dave Roberts and a line drive single for Ray Durham that probably would have been an out at any other park in the bigs. Mike Cameron was playing Durham to pull and wasn't able to get to what would have been a routine out at a straight away defense. The team as a whole looked very stale. Pedro Feliz fumbled a routine grounder that could have been a double play to end an inning. After the Feliz mishandle, Barry Bonds' lack of range in left field was exposed when he let a line drive fall in front of him, one that 90% of big league outfielders will make. The season is barely a day old, and I have already disagreed with a few of Bruce Bochy's moves. I know Rich Aurlia is a fan favorite in San Francisco, and he's a solid player, but to have him hitting 5th in the lineup vs. a guy like Jake Peavy is just asking for trouble. Ryan Klesko should have started the game today and he should get most starts at first base vs. right handed pitching. Again, I like Aurilia, but having him, Bengie Molina and Pedro Feliz hitting all in a row is a gift to right handed pitchers with any kind of breaking ball. Finally, the bullpen looked like it is indeed going to be a problem again, just like last year, and the year before, and the year before. You'd think the Brian Sabean would have figured something out by now, it's not like the Giants are a team without resources.

There aren't many positive things I can say about this game. You know an opening day doesn't go good when the only positive things the announcers can talk about was how great the opening ceremony was. Ray Durham made a few nice defensive plays at second base that probably saved a couple runs, and those where the plays of the game as far as the Giants where concerned. Zito wasn't all that bad and I didn't agree with the move to take him out after the 5th. However, he surely didn't look like a 126 million dollar pitcher. His stuff was very average today. The curve wasn't all that great, he hung a lot of them up in the zone. His best out pitch today was his change up. The thing I worried about the most watching Zito's start was the guys' velocity. He was around 80-86 mph all day with his fastball and most of them where closer to 80. I knew Zito wasn't a power pitcher, but I did expect him to be more in the 87-90 range than what he showed Tuesday. I hope his velocity increases at least by a few mph as the season moves on. If he is going to be at 83 mph with his fastball all year, he's going to have to be perfect with his command.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Sunday, April 01, 2007

25 Man Roster Set

The Giants had some tough choices to make by the 25-man roster submission deadline on Sunday. After figuring out the bullpen situation on Saturday, all they had left was to figure out who to take north between Lance Niekro, Jason Ellison and Mark Sweeney. They dealt Jason Ellison to the Seattle Mariners for minor league left-hander Travis Blackey, and placed Mark Sweeney on the 15-day DL with a "sore right foot," the old fake injury to open up a roster spot. I am very surprised Neikro got the nod over Ellison. Both had been having good springs, but the Giants already have 2 first basemen on the roster so Niekro seems kind of useless. Ellison has the ability to pinch run which the Giants are going to need a lot of with players like Barry Bonds, Bengie Molina and Rich Aurllia in the lineup. I think the reason the Giants let Ellison go was because of Freddy Lewis' progress this spring. Lewis now moves up on the organizations depth chart and will likely be the first position player called up from Fresno when one is needed. One guy who has to be pretty happy right now is Todd Linden. He comes into the year as the teams 4th outfielder, but with this outfield and him being the only backup, this guy is in line for some serious at-bats this season. Joining Linden and Niekro and making up the rest of the Giants bench are catcher Elizier Alfonzo, first basemen Ryan Klesko and utility man Kevin Frandsen.

There are a lot more concerns for the Giants bullpen than the bench at this point. They announced Saturday that they will start with a 12 man staff consisting of the 5 starters, Armondo Benitez, Vinny Chulk, Steve Kline, Jack Taschner, Kevin Corriea, Jonathon Sanchez and Brad Hennessey. The only move I was surprised by here was the choice to keep Taschner over "closer in the making" Brain Wilson. Many people wanted to hand Wilson the closers job this spring and give Benitez away for anything they could possibly get for him, you know who you guys' are. I am sure those people are now thinking twice about that wish. Imagine if Benitez was indeed shipped out for some low lever prospect, we would be looking at the worst bullpen in the league. Wilson got roughed up this spring and besides showing a good arm and good velocity, he has done nothing to prove he is even close to being ready to close at the major league level. The Giants don't think he is ready to hold a bullpen spot in the bigs yet let alone close. One guy who I still am not sure why the Giants let go is David Cortes. Outside of Benitez, Cortes was arguably the teams' best reliever this spring. He gave up hits, but he got out of innings without allowing damage. His track record isn't that bad either. He held his own relieving in Colorado the past few years' and I bet he would have been a solid middle reliever for the Giants.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________
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