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Friday, March 14, 2014

Halfway through spring, so far so good

We're roughly halfway through the Cactus League schedule, and with opening day just over 2 weeks away, the Giants look like they're ready to start the marathon!

So far, the only pressing question hanging over the Giants surrounds second base and when exactly starter Marco Scutaro will be ready to go. Aside from recovering from surgery he had that inserted a pin into his mallet-finger last September, Scutaro has been battling some back issues that have become a growing concern. He has taken batting practice a couple of times now, which is a good sign, but he's not close to appearing in a Cactus League game and is all but ruling out being ready by opening day. Scutaro's a veteran and has been around a long time, if he says he's not optimistic about starting the season, you should probably take him for his word. With the 39 year-old a likely candidate to start the year on the 15-day DL, it opens up a door in the infield for someone like Mark Minicozzi, Ehire Adrianza or even Brandon Hicks. Adrianza looks like the most likely of the three to get that spot should it become available. He's shown a 180 turnaround at the plate this spring, hitting for power with 2 HR, a double and a triple in 20 at-bats for a cool .700 slugging percentage. There's also no questioning his glove and rage up the middle either. Minicozzi has cooled off a bit, but Hicks has looked strong leading the team with 5 doubles in 22 at-bats.

The guy to most likely get the starting nod at second until Scutaro is indeed ready, Joaquin Arias, is showing the Giants shouldn't miss a beat without their veteran second sacker with a strong spring. Arias is hitting .391 in 9 games. Of the Giants expected to make the opening day roster, only Buster Posey (.450) has a higher average. I doubt Bochy will slot Arias into the 2-hole on his lineup card, however. My guess is Brandon Belt gets that spot, as Boch has used him there in spring and likes his ability to see pitches and his solid OBP.

Aside from Scutaro's absence though, Bochy really has to be pleased with the way things around unfolding this spring. Pablo Sandoval looks healthy, motivated and ready for a monster year. Posey looks absolutely determined to get back to 2012 form, Pence looks like Pence (blasted two big flies Friday) and Michael Morse has shown signs of heating up recently. The lineup looks like it's going to be a stronger, more well-rounded unit than it was a year ago, and the starting rotation has had just the type of strong spring they needed to in order to put peoples minds at ease. Tim Lineceum needed a strong spring, he's having one. Matt Cain, to a lesser extent, needed one as well and he's been on point. I do have to admit, my only concern with the starting rotation at this point lies with Vogelsong in that fifth spot as he's been hit-and-miss all spring. He did have that nice start Thursday night vs. Texas, but he's become a bit unpredictable and isn't nearly as reliable as he was pre-2013. He is a fifth starter though, so the Giants aren't expecting a sub-3 ERA with 13-plus wins like he provided in 2011-12, nonetheless, they need quality starts out of him more times than not. Whether he can still do that remains to be seen and his mediocre spring thus far is hardly making me optimistic.

Escobar Thriving: In case Vogey fails, or any Giants starter has to miss any significant time, it looks like they have themselves a pretty good security blanket who is damn near major league ready if he isn't already. 21 year-old Edwin Escobar has had one of the best springs of anyone. In 3 games (2 starts) he's allowed just 1 hit over 6 innings of work.

Thoughts on Bonds: I know we haven't really discussed it here yet, but I did want to say a little something about Barry Bonds' arrival in camp a few days ago. I, like most people, and ecstatic he's back with the club and am very encouraged by seeing him jump right in and help players right away. Say what you want about Barry, you can't deny his approach at the plate and his ability to hit (long before any PED use) was really second to none over the last 20-25 years. The Giants have a lot of talent in that everyday lineup too, talent that can use Bonds' imput and expertise. Imagine how much he could help Brandon Belt and Crawford and what kind of tips he could give Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Bonds is in good spirits, ready to teach and apparently really wants to be a part of this thing. All signs are pointing towards this being a great reunion. I like Bam Bam Muellens, but if I'm him, I have to be looking over my shoulder, just a little bit.

Upcoming: We normally start our previews of every division in baseball around this time, but I'm considering keeping it to NL teams only this year and doing a little more in-depth on the teams the Giants will actually be facing 95% of the time. Either way, our divisional previews will start in the next few days.
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1 Comments:

  • At 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Vogelsongs having a rough spring.. Wish we woulda moved on when we had the chance. I have very little confidence in him anymore.

     

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