Welcome to the 2nd Czar’s blog of 2016 celebrating the end of Spring Training and the true beginning of 2016, when baseball comes back to the City by the Bay. The G-Men return home to AT&T today and play tomorrow and Friday before a game in Oakland and then off to Milwaukee for the Brewer’s home opener.
What does the team look like coming out of Arizona?
Answer: They look healthy and ready to play!
Pitching staff: The pitching staff has a high spring ERA but then again, they always do, Spring is the time for pitchers to test pitches and get back in condition. The good news is that the staff is healthy and the starters and relievers have pitched well over the last couple of weeks. The bad news is that the Spring ERA’s look pretty pathetic.
The Starters: I suspect that Bumgarner is not going to have a 11.12 ERA for long but we will see him on Monday against the Brewers. Peavy is at 7.62 for the spring but is starting to look very tough, Cueto is at 9.58, Smardzija is at 7.20 and Cain is at 12.15. The starters obviously need to suck it up now that the season is starting.
The Relievers (who have for the most part pitched much better than the starters): Heston, Osich and Kontos will be in long relief, Lopez and Romo (who has looked exceptionally tough) will be specialists, and Strickland and Casilla will be fighting it out as closers. The G-Men are going to carry 13 pitchers so it looks like Cody Gearrin will get a shot (but maybe Jake Dunning will replace him – the last position battle going on).
Does all this sound familiar? It should. This is exactly how it looked going into Spring Training
The Infield is acknowledged to be best in the NL
Belt (who is hitting really well and with power) at 1st, Panik at 2nd, Duffy at 3rd, Crawford at short and Buster Posey, the best catcher (and the best player) currently playing baseball, behind the dish. It doesn’t get any better than this. The defensive metrics for this group when they are together are off the charts. Moreover they are hitting the snot out of the ball (the most home runs during spring training of any team in baseball). Of course that is spring training but let’s see what they look like at AT&T this week.
Kelby Tomlinson (Clark Kent) made the team as the back-up infielder and Adrianza has been a real surprise. He hit the weight room in the off-season, gained 14 pounds (with no loss of speed) and his hitting (.333) has been solid. Needless to say he made the starting 25.
One surprise. Susac (he needs to get his wrist healthy) got sent down and Trevor Brown made the team as the back-up catcher.
Outfield: The bottom line is that the outfield is healthy and ready for the season. Hunter Pence is back (.471 and 6 dingers!). Denard Span is showing what he can do when he’s healthy but the eye opener has been a good-looking Pagan in left field (.395 with power – can you say “contract year” for Pagan?). Blanco is the fourth outfielder (which may all the outfielders that are carried early on – but Belt can play outfield in a pinch). Maxwell and Williamson both went to Sacramento, along with Conor Gillespie (who had a good spring and Gorkys Hernandez, another spring surprise).
Again, no real surprises after spring training, which is a testament to the Giants front office and coaching staff. Bruce Bochy is the best manager in the game today, no question.
One question? Where’s Timmy? Complete silence from the Lincecum corner. I keep expecting something but who knows.
The NL West – what’s happening there?
While this will be a three-team race (Dodgers, Giants and Snakes), the April ball-games will tell a lot. The G-Men face the Dodgers (7 games), Rockies (3 games), Snakes (4 games) and the Padres (3 games) in April. That’s 14 games against the NL West alone. Factor in a series against the Brewers and Marlins and it’s a very tough few weeks, with almost no days off. That’s why Bochy is carrying 13 pitchers. Let’s see how fresh the G-Men are after April.
The Dodgers are beset with injuries but the Snakes are playing well in the spring, as are the Padres. It is really too early to report without some games under our belt. We will have a much better handle on the NL West after April is over.
The next blog post (probably early next week) will offer tickets to the first homestand, and there will be tickets available, so make sure the blog post email gets through!
Now it is time to get the glove ready for AT&T and enjoy baseball – 2016 style!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!