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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cain Impressive, Then Wild

Matt Cain has been somewhat of an enigma the last couple of seasons and Saturday was no different. Cain has looked both dominant and horrible at times this spring, but I think that when the Opening Day comes around, the kid is going to be ready to thrive.

Cain's most recent outing was Saturday vs. the Padres in a split squad match-up. In that outing, Cain went 3 innings, allowing a walk and a hit along with 5 punch-outs on 40 pitches and was cruising until hitting slipping a bit in the fourth and fifth innings. The pitch count is going to be key this season for the 24 year-old. If he can limit his innings to an average of 15 pitches or less, he's going to be a lot more effective and be able to get into the 8th and 9th innings more often. He's a horse already, and is used to throwing 100+ pitches a start, but he has to start using those pitches more economically if he's going to shake the "above average" sticker and start becoming a really good starting pitcher like he's capable of. I've mentioned in previous posts over the winter that I think a lot of the pressure is off of Matt Cain now and I think he's ready to thrive. Tim Lincecum is the ace and won the Cy Young award so obviously and rightly so, all eyes are going to be on him. But then there's also Randy Johnson who is hunting for his 300th victory and is a baseball icon. So this season, IMO Cain is kind of playing third fiddle, so to speak. And again, I just think this will alleviate any extra pressure or expectations on Matt Cain and he'll ultimately be a better pitcher for it. The only thing that Cain can hope for is a better defense surrounding him. I haven't seen any pitcher suffer as bad of luck as Cain has over the past few seasons as I can think of a handful of games of the top of my head (the Todd Linden mis-play in left at Coors in '07 comes right to mind) where the defense and/or bullpen absolutely screwed Cainer.

The overall starting pitching hasn't been the only thing looking good in Giants camp lately. Pablo Sandoval is hitting over .400, Travis Ishikawa has hit for power and is hitting over .300 and Emmanuel Burris is really starting to take the bull by the horns in this battle for second base, hitting .364, scoring runs and wrecking havoc on the base-paths. They have also found a nice little batch of young, big-league ready position players in Jesus Guzman, Andres Torres and Matt Downs who could be amongst the fist call-ups of the 2009 season. Guzman has been mentioned here about as much as Tim Linceum this spring and I'm sure Giants fans are starting to familiarize themselves with this kid. He's been the top offensive player this spring for the Giants as he has 6 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs while carrying a .435 average through 23 spring at-bats. I was expecting a nice spring from Guzman, but he's been scary good this spring and I don't think anyone has expected that. And yes, I do know it's only spring training, but I don't think Guzman has ever gotten this much action in a spring season, so all of this is new to him and he's taking it with ease. Again, the only issue with Guzman will be finding him a position. He's looked both good and bad at times at third base this spring, but has played exceptionally well at first and in the outfield, so it should be interesting to see where he starts out in Fresno. Downs also has the ability to play multiple positions as he's experienced at 2nd and 3rd base as well as right field, where he should open the season at for Fresno.

*Note: The Giants top two picks from the last 2 drafts both appeared in a Saturday's game vs. the Padres as well. Madison Bumgarner threw a scoreless sixth inning, striking out one and walking a batter. I didn't expect to see Bumgarner in the big league camp this season, but there he was, and he looked pretty darn good, albeit for one inning.... Also, Buster Posey, who has been seeing scattered at-bats in Cactus League play, hit his first un-official big league home run in the 9th inning of Saturday's Giants/Padres tilt. Posey is now 5-13 (.385) on the spring with 1 home run and 5 RBI. The more he plays, the more he's proving himself big league ready. Some think that he probably won't be up sooner that September '09 at the earlies, but I'm thinking late July might be more accurate, especially if he goes down and starts tearing up the minor leagues the way I think he's going to.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree, Matty Cain has been cursed the last couple of years. I remember that Linden ball your talking about at Coors back in early '07. I think the bullpen/defense cost Cain something like 7 wins that season. I hope they get their act together behind him this season.

  • At 2:54 AM, Anonymous #1 Giants Fan said…

    Whats this talk of Ivan Rodriguez going around? The UNit and now Pudge? Do the Giants think it's the '99 instead of '09?

  • At 1:39 AM, Anonymous B.N.B said…

    Oh, and another bad outing by Zit-0. This guy's gotta go. We all want to think he'll turn it around, but it's not happenin' peoples!!! Give that spot to someone else. SIgn Ben SHeets if he's still available and can pitch. Make Zito a high paid left-handed specialist. Why not? He could be a John Franco or something and be really good and do what he can to salvage this contract. I guess it's wishful thinking, but so is the thought of him actually becoming a good starter again in SF.


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