Giants early spring analysis: Everything as expected
The Giant' full squad has been in town a few days now and has gone through some workouts together, and just as many expected, there's hardly any news or anything crazy to report on thus far.
One of the most stable, most professional clubhouses in all of baseball has shown up for work and they look like they're focused on not falling off after another championship. Just as they always tend to be in Spring Training under Bruce Bochy, things have been calm, cool and collected and there's really been nothing but good news to report so far. Of which, one of the most important is the health of catalyst center fielder and leadoff man Angel Pagan, who in his own words says he feels like "never before". Having him back healthy atop the lineup will make a huge impact. Not to take anything away from Gregor Blanco, who managed fine in the postseason last year in the leadoff spot, but we're talking apples and oranges in terms of these guys' talent levels. I mean, Blanco's quick and can get on base and play great defense, but Pagan is a guy who can be a difference maker when he's on his game. Remember that run at the end of 2012 when he hit .342 in August and was crucial down the stretch and in the playoffs. He's a good offensive player on a team without a lot of them, so keeping him healthy in 2015 is going to be so crucial.
Obviously, health with all the core guys are key, but Pagan and even Brandon Belt are two guys in particular who've missed significant time over the last couple of seasons with injury and with the losses of Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, the Giants can't afford to have those guys hit the DL multiple times this summer. Whether that means babying them along in spring or working them harder and getting them in better shape, those two are another injury away from being tagged "unreliable" and "injury-prone". To Belt's credit, some of his injuries have been freak injuries as that baseball just keeps finding him at inappropriate times. Hopefully his concussion issues are a thing of the past though.
The other two guys with the health questions on the Giants 25-man roster each got glowing reviews during their first workouts as well which is great. We talked a lot about Matt Cain in out last post, but Tim Hudson threw his first bullpen on Wednesday and got positive results in both the way he threw the ball and the way he felt. It was the first time he's taken a mound since Game 7 of the World Series last fall, and of course with the had the ankle surgery over the winter (not even 8 weeks ago in fact), the Giants are going to take it easy with their elderly, albeit above-average right-handed starter. It's great news, nonetheless, that he was able to take the mound so soon and provide such solid results. Eli Whiteside caught Hudson's session and said he hardly had to move his glove away from where he had it targeted through the outing. With that news coupled with the way Cain reported no issues after his outing the other day and Tim Lincecum as focused as he's ever been in his life for the most important year for his professional career, the Giants pitching staff could end up being better than many people are expecting.
In reality, the bottom line is there's still a long ways to go, and Cactus League games are still a week out, but seeing as everybody has reported healthy and in at least decent condition, then passed the test of their first workouts, it's kind of all you can ask for as a fan at this point. Once games start we'll start getting a better grip on bench roles and if Ryan Vogelsong may be able to knock Timmy out of the fifth spot. Until then, the main goal is just to keep everybody healthy. Losing players to injury before the season is brutal enough, let alone before the exhibition games start.