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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Johnson, Sandoval Lead Giants

The Giants battled back for their first comeback win of the exhibition season on Tuesday, as they were led by a couple of guys who the team is expecting big things out of in '09.

Randy Johnson struck out 7 batters in 3 innings as he faced his former employer (D-Backs) for the very first time. The lefty has now gone 5 innings this spring, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 10 batters. Johnson made it very clear coming into spring training that he was feeling better than he had in years at that point and he was extremely excited to see how things were going to go because of it. I know it's only spring training, but the Unit has looked like the Unit of 5-10 years ago early on in spring. He had the place buzzing when he threw BP and bullpen sessions during spring practices, and apparently he isn't lying. Now I'm not expecting a full fountain of youth for Johnson here, and it's still kind of unclear how his back is going to take to pitching those cold nights on the water in San Francisco, but if he holds up for 180-200 innings, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with, just ask the D-Backs hitters that faced him Tuesday. You can also ask the D-Backs pitchers about young Pablo Sandoval, who was also a big part of Tuesday's come back victory. Sandoval hit his first home run of the spring, a 2-run shot in the sixth inning, part of a 4-run inning that helped the Giants tie the game. There has been some around the organization that have suggested moving Sandoval into the cleanup spot and Molina to the fifth spot, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Sandoval keeps on driving in runs.

While the starting pitching and offense continue to be bright spots, the bullpen and occasional spotty defense have continued to be a negative. The defense was atrocious a couple days ago for Matt Cain as they made 3 errors behind him in his 1+ inning of work. The starters have been good for the most part, but potential bench guys like Eugenio Velez, Juan Uribe and Jon Bowker, among others, have made some costly mistakes. In the bullpen, Jack Taschner, Keeichi Yabu, Sergio Romo and Alex Hinshaw have really dug themselves in a hole as far as making this team out of spring. All four, especially Taschner, Romo and Hinshaw, were favorites coming in, but Taschner has walked 5 batters and allowed 4 runs in 2 innings while Yabu has allowed 6 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in only 2 innings. Hinshaw has allowed 2 jacks and has given up 4 runs in less than 2 innings pitched and Romo (who reported arm stiffness Tuesday and is being held out 10 days) has also given up 2 bombs while allowing numerous baserunners in just over an innings pitched. Now these guys are only going to get about 10-12 total innings this spring so they really are already behind the 8-ball here as some other guys are flourishing. Rule V draftee Luis Perdomo allowed a run on Tuesday for the first time in 3 outings, but he continues to look pretty good and is throwing strikes. Other guys who aren't favorites but could force the issue are Brandon Medders (4 IP, 0 hits/runs, 2 BB, 3 K's), Justin Miller (2 IP, 0 hits/runs, 1 K) and Osiris Matos (2.1 IP, 0 hits/runs, 1 BB/K). As a matter of fact, if I had to construct my bullpen today, on March 3rd, it would probably go like this: 1.CL Brian Wilson 2. SU: Bob Howry 3.LHP Jeremy Affeldt 4.RHP Brandon Medders 5. RHP Luis Perdomo 6. RHP Justin Miller 7. LHP Alex Hinshaw (I still take him over Tasch, and this pen carries two lefties). Although, I still would love to see Merkin Valdez assert himself and claim a spot, but he's yet to throw in Cactus League games and it's not clear when exactly that will happen. Merkin told me last August that there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to pitch before the end of the '08 season, so his injury issues are still very much holding him back.

Extras: I found it surprising that Juan Uribe led the team in at-bats through the first week of spring training while guys like Jesus Guzman (3/6 with 2 doubles, a triple and 2 RBI) are itching for opportunity but aren't really getting it....Randy Winn is still looking for his first hit of the spring while Travis Ishikawa is still looking for his first long ball and RBI since the Cactus League opener.... Also, Emmanuel Burris and Kevin Frandsen are really going neck and neck in the battle for the starting second base job so far this spring. I am not a big fan of ever going with a platoon, but if both of these guys are hitting over .400 all spring and playing good defense, then this battle might carry over into the regular season.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Signing the Unit was a brialliant move by Sabean. You have to give him that one... I think all other GM's deemed this guy pretty close to done, but if he wins 15 game this year, Sabean's going to look like a mad scientist... Maybe he can steal Manny away from LA after all and make the Giants a true contender... Who would beat that pitching staff and that versatile lineup??

  • At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    has anyone considered putting franson at 3rd and moving sandevol to 1st?

  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    First of all, Frandsen isn't really a third basemen and probably would be exposed if put there for a long period of time. He may see some occasional time there, as he is capable, but Aurilia will be the main back-up at third, I believe. Frandsen and Burris are just going to have to keep battling it out and hopefully, over the next two/three weeks, one starts separating from the other. I still think the Giants will lean towards Frandsen because he's had more big league experience, and had he not gotten hurt last spring, he would have gotten a great look in '08 and possibly solidified himself in the spot.

    I really think the Giants are committed to giving Ishikawa a legit opportunity to start the year off. If he's hitting .220 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI come June then no, they will look elsewhere, but until he proves otherwise he's their guy. He's done fine this spring too, just been a little quiet since the first game of the spring, but he's still hitting .500

  • At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    first of all, you can't tell me Frandsen would be worst defensively and have less range then sandoval next to renteria who has limited range next to him

  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Sandoval played third in the minors, Frandsen has always been a second basemen. And yes, I think Sandoval is better defensively than Frandsen at third base, absolutely.

    Regardless, the Giants have Ishikawa at first and Sadoval at third anyway and it's going to stay like that for a while. Frandsen isn't good enough for them to change those plans out of the gate.

  • At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Looks like Manny is officially a Dodger once again. The Giants spit the bit with this one, he could have really helped, like Bonds status.

  • At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    is Ishikawa that good that we should keep sandoval away from a more natural position he has good hands but no range no body his size plays third base other then Cabrera and we know how well that works out...sandoval already has enough to worry about hitting in the middle of the order….i'd rather not add playing a difficult position that you aren’t really suited for to his plate as well...but you're right it wont change i'm just wondering why

  • At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Sandoval has no range?? Which Sandoval are you watching. This one moves great for how big he is. Don't judge the book by it's cover, or however the saying goes.

  • At 10:39 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Sandoval's range is better than you'd think for his size, but no, he's still not the ideal third basemen and yes, I do think he'd do better there over the course of the year than Frandsen. He has better hands and a much stronger arm.

  • At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i know his range is good for his size but he still has unprecedented size for that position and next to rentoria who also has potential range issues seems like a lot of question marks for a team that is supposedly going to carry it's self with pitching and defense and I know frandsen played third some during spring training last year so this isn't coming out of left field


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