Giants Offense Quieting Down With Spring
That exposed an area that the Giants are still working to improve, and again, a big reason why I wanted Cody Ross re-signed. The Giants just don't have a lot of natural righties in their lineup, outside of Buster Posey. Sanchez will start the year on the shelve and it's really anybodies guess as to when he may debut, and until then, the Giants are short one of their better right-handed bats. Left-handed starters have been giving this team trouble all spring, but they've managed OK vs. righties, when all their switch hitters (Melky, Panda, Pagan) hit from their more natural side. It's also a reason why I'd like to see Brett Pill's right-handed stick make this roster, if as a pinch hitter only. He can hit lefties, and the Giants don't have many of those types. Huff and Belt are each left-handed, which leaves the Giants with Posey as the only RH option at first base, so on days when he catches, and they're facing a tough lefty, it sure would be nice to be able to have both Posey and Pill in the lineup. And, if Angel Pagan doesn't turn it on once games start counting for real, then they may be down yet another switch hitter and add another lefty in Gregor Blanco, who's stood out in Cactus League, leading the league in steals, and carrying a tremendous OBP. Marty Lurie and Larry Kruegar, each very in-tuned with the Giants, suggest that the team could make a move before opening day for a Marlon Byrd or Austin Kearns just to get another right-handed thumper onto the roster.
Speaking of roster spots, one guy that know has guaranteed his spot on the roster, and quite possibly the opening day nod at second base. Burris has gotten extensive PT this spring with Sanchez down, and he's responded. Burris is carrying a .353/.421/.490 line through 53 spring at-bats and he's looking like he's really settling in at 2nd. He doesn't lack talent, as he was a supplemental pick in the '06 draft and still has upside at age 26, but this is the year he really has to break through and make his mark. I talked a bit about him a few posts back about his solid 2008, then sophomore slump in 2009, injury in 2010 and mostly rehabbing in the minors in 2011. So this is the bounce back year for him as he's healthy, in shape and is locked in at the place. The move which ensured Burris' stay was the releasing of Mike Fontenot, who was his main competition for time at 2nd in Sanchez's absence. Now it appears all Burris, who's equally comfortable from both sides of the plate and actually was a natural righty coming up, so maybe he'll help out vs. lefties, but the Giants still need right-handed thump. The Giants made it official with Ryan Vogelsong Friday, placing him on the 15-day, enabling him to make his debut for April 15th's tilt. The fact they've yet to do so with Sanchez makes me wonder a bit whether they thing he'll either be ready in a week or 2 (which is doubtful), or he'll likely be out longer than 15 days. Either way, it's good to see Burris getting his chance and thriving, hope to see it carry over.
Matt Cain Watch: Well, the Giants still haven't locked up Matt Cain like they had planned to before the season, and all signs point to negotiations carrying over into the season, and I'm so bored talking and hearing about it that until something good to report comes in, I won't be discussing Cain's contract situation here after this. Cain is so focused that I don't anticipate this being a distraction for him, but it may be for his teammates, not knowing if their horse will be here beyond 2012, or maybe even July. As I've said all offseason, unless Cain and Lincecum are on this team beyond 2014, the Giants' blowing this window of opportunity with the two in-tow will wind up being a colossal mistake. I mean, if Cain leaves them high and dry after the season, the Giants will basically have lost two valuable pitching commodities in as many years (Zack Wheeler) while basically getting nothing out of them. They have to get this guy locked up, whatever it takes. I say 5 years/$110M w/option for 6th year at $25M. That would keep Cain in a Giants uni through his 33rd birthday. It would also give Cain another window to earn another decent payday after those 5 years, as he'd be just 33. In next winters pitching market, he could get 6 years/$150M, easily (which is why he'd be open to seeing what's out there and can you blame him?). Hopefully he never has to go there and the Giants get it done. Heck, I'd even give him $100M for 4 years if he'd take it, and try to back-load it so he gets most of it after Zito's deal expires in 2 years (which is just one year into that proposed deal). Even a 5 YR/$115M would be acceptable in my eyes. Hard to go beyond 5 years with a power arm who's accumulated tons of innings, though, and Cain has said to want 6-7 years. Again, I don't think it's the money that's the holdup, but the years.