Starting Pitching Looks Good Early
The Giants top young arms, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum (fresh off his newly signed 1 year, $650,000 deal; more at bottom of post), threw well in their first starts of the spring and in the most recent outing, the Giants got 2 hit-less innings from Barry Zito on Saturday. Zito allowed no base runners and struck out a batter in those two innings and hopefully it means the 30 year-old lefty is on the right track. Over the previous two springs, Zito hasn't really had many outings to feel good about, but this was certainly one of them. Jonathan Sanchez is another guy who opened some eyes in his appearance as well. Sanchez didn't start his game, but came in after Randy Johnson's 2 inning, 1 hit start and dominated the Royals. Sanchez went 3 innings and stuck out 4 while allowing a run on 3 hits. The most impressive stat though was that Sanchez didn't walk anybody which is no small feat for the hard-throwing, wild-at-times, left-hander. Sanchez is looking to build off of an overall solid first season as a full-time big league starter, and after impressing in spring training batting practice sessions, the young lefty looks like he is ready to take that next step and give the Giants a solid 180-200 innings pitched without tailing off in August and September. Sanchez will be be leaving the Giants to play for Puerto Rico at the end of next week, but will probably get one more outing with the Giants before he takes off.
The Bullpen candidates haven't been fairing as well as the starters. Projected closer and set-up man, Brian Wilson and Bob Howry, each threw well in their first spring outings but the guys expected to get them the ball haven't fared as well. Jack Taschner, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Alex Hinshaw, all guys expected to make the team, have all been less than stellar so far this spring. I know it's only spring and most of the guys mentioned above have only had one bad outing, so you can't pick your team based on what's happened so far, but normally this early in the spring, the pitchers are supposed to have the edge on the hitters and most of these bullpen guys are facing the opposing teams back-ups and minor leaguers. Alex Hinshaw is a little concerning too, as he has had two outings and has been wild and in-effective in both of them. Some of the young guys who are trying to beat the odds and make the team and have thrown well here early on are Billy Sadler, Kevin Pucetas, Luis Perdomo and Brandon Medders.
The offense thus far hasn't been bad at all, but since their explosive Cactus League opener, they haven't done too much. The team continues to be led by the young guys. Travis Ishikawa has hit safely in his 3 games and still leads the team with 2 home runs and 4 RBI and has played very well. Another guy who has driven in a couple of runs who is also trying to certify his starting spot in the infield is Kevin Frandsen. The 26 year-old second basemen has 4 hits in 5 at-bats so far and along with his 3 RBI, he has a home run and a double. The problem for Frandsen is that Emmanuel Burris looks like he is going to really make this a tough decision for Giants' management. Also, Fred Lewis, who is trying to ease his recovering heal into game shape, hit a a majestic shot on Saturday, his first time hitting in the third spot, the spot I think he makes the most sense at. The Giants have been talking about hitting Lewis behind Bengie Molina in the 5th spot, but I like the speed and the ability to get on base in the third spot with Sandoval hitting 5th. Other Giants who have hit the ball well through the springs' first four games are Rich Aurilia, Juan Uribe (don't be fooled by his solid start, he's still a below average player), and Nate Schierholtz.
As I said at the top of the post, Tim Lincecum signed his deal for the 2009 season and the '08 NL Cy Young Winner is only getting $650,000. I say only just because of what the market value is for your typical Cy Young winner. I think the Giants should have at least given him a million bucks, just as a token of appreciation at what he's accomplished already and a sign that they want him in SF for the next 10 years. Lincecum will be arbitration eligible next winter, so he realistically could start making $10,000,000+ per season as early as 2010 if he has another all-star season. Get him signed Sabes, and do it sooner rather than later. I would feel completely confident giving Timmy a 5 year, $40 million deal and if the Giants offered that too him this season, they probably could lock him up for the foreseeable future.