Giants Still Figuring out Lineup
Know, the general consensus heading in was, that if healthy, Freddy Sanchez would enter the season as the Giants 2nd place hitter, the role he's filled throughout his stay here in San Francisco and much of his time in Pittsburgh. However, Bruce Bochy said this week that he may shake things up with the lineup in the Cactus League. I like the idea, considering the Giants have a player in Cabrera, who they don't quite know where he'll fit in best in the lineup. He's always been a top of the order hitter, so Bochy mentioned possibly moving Sanchez down to the 6th spot and Melky into the 2 hole. Having Cabrera hit fifth is kind of a two-sided affair, because on one end, you get that potential power (18 homers) and run production (88 RBI) not to mention, some consistent protection for Panda and Posey. At the same time, one of the Cabrera's big tools is his speed and ability to swipe bases, and if you put two high OBP guys like Buster and Pablo in front of him it could limit that element of his game. That's why I get Boch ideally wanting to use Pagan and Cabrera in the 1-2 spot, which I would like to see done. It's just too bad the Giants couldn't acquire that one more middle of the order hitter (say, bringing Beltran), then we wouldn't even need to have this conversation! The Giants lineup, 1-4, with Cabrera at the 2 spot would be pretty dynamic, though things get a lot more suspect after that.
Aubrey Huff figures to lock down either the 5th spot (if Melky hits 2nd) or the 6th spot, behind Melky. Perhaps the biggest story I'll be following this spring though, will be that first base situation, and what happens with Huff, Belt and Pill. I mean, Huff will obviously start the year there, just because of his contract, but the Giants won't give him near as much rope this time around. That brings us to who would back him up, and everyone seems to thing Brandon Belt is pretty much guaranteed a spot on the opening day roster. I'm not as sure though. I know the Giants want Belt getting pretty regular at-bats, and it may make more since for them to start the year with Brett Pill as Huff's backup. Pill quietly put up some very good numbers after his call-up in September, after many solid years in the minor leagues, and he's still just 27 years old, so he's still improving. I mean, he had three really good years in a row, starting in Connecticut, where it was a hitters nightmare (.298/19/109) then culminating last year in Fresno with his second consecutive all-star season for the Grizzlies (.312/25/107). I've been wondering why the Giants haven't moved him around the infield, as he's got the flexibility and has played other positions in the minors. If your can make Pill serviceable at 3rd, and 2nd, then you have one helluva utility player. Now granted, playing 2nd base and 3rd base at the ML level is different than playing in San Jose. I think Boch should play him solely at 2nd and 3rd this spring and only sparingly at first. We know he's a very good first basemen, so he's got nothing to prove there.
As far as Belt is concerned, I still have high hopes for him and expect big things, but he showed he wasn't quite ready last season, and if he can't learn to cover that inside part of the plate this spring, he should be getting all the work he can in Fresno unless Huff wets the bed early and often... Also, should be noted that Bochy announced that Tim Lincecum will start the Cactus League opener Saturday vs. Colorado, and is penciled in to throw an inning. It's unclear who will follow Timmy, but it's a great sign to see that he'll be out there for game one after suffering from back soreness later last week.