Friday, March 03, 2006

Giants vs Brewers

Well, same two teams today, this time at Scottsdale Stadium. Yet another beautiful day in Arizona, mid-70’s, not a cloud in the sky. Just a great day for baseball.

Today was a good example of why no one should place any great stock in Spring Training results, ESPECIALLY this spring. With Winn, Vizquel, Feliz and Alou gone to the WBC, the Giants started ZERO starters, only 2 position players that were sure to make the team and only 2 other position players that have a chance to make the team. By the 6th inning, the only position player left on the field that has a realistic chance to make the team was Jason Ellison.

Not only that, but some of the starters were certainly not the players that I would have hoped to see starting these shorthanded games. Instead of Nate Schierholtz or Daniel Ortmeier or Adam Shabala in RF…we were treated to Abraham Nunez (with the Seattle organization in Tacoma last year) starting in RF, his second straight start. Instead of Jake Wald or Angel Chavez at SS…..we were treated to Tomas De La Rosa (in the Colorado system at Colorado Springs last year). Instead of Brian Buscher or Pablo Sandoval at 3B, Angel Chavez started at 3B instead of SS. I’m not quite sure I get what it is the Giants are trying to do with all of these free agent Minor Leaguers starting instead of rewarding the home grown talent.

The pitching, however, was mostly frontline Major Leaguers. Matt Cain started and threw 2 scoreless innings. He gave up 2 hits, but it seemed like he had a full count on every batter. I didn’t keep a pitch count, but Matt must have thrown 50 pitches in the 2 innings. Armando Benitez followed and immediately gave up a double followed by a walk. After the runners were sacrificed to 2nd & 3rd, Benitez got out of the inning with no runs scored. I think he was concentrating on his slider for much of the inning, but the strikeout came on some SERIOUS high heat.

Jeff Fassero then started out exactly like Benitez. Double, walk, sacrifice…Fassero also would have made it out of the inning without a score, except for a wild pitch. I won’t say that Todd Greene should have blocked the ball, but I am pretty darn sure Matheny would have. I thought Steve Kline was also going to have a shutout inning, but he gave up a solo HR to Damien Miller with 2 out. Pedro Liriano followed with a 1 hit, shutout inning.

The most encouraging performance, for me, was Scott Munter. He looks totally over his injury as he faced 3 batters and got 3 ground ball outs. He looked like the same “double play machine” that I saw in the Arizona Fall League 2 years ago. The worst performance of the day was Tyler Walker. After getting 2 quick outs…….he just lost the strike zone. After a walk, a hit batsman and another walk, he gave up a bloop single, followed by a hard hit double. Tyler allowed 4 earned runs and allowed a close 2-1 game, to turn into a 6-1 done deal. Merkin Valdez had to come in and finish off the inning, retiring the only batter he faced. Jeremy Accardo finished the game off with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Offensively, the Giants had 9 hits and 7 walks…..and only managed 2 runs. One of the runs was on a solo HR by Derin McMains of all people. Other than the HR…the Giants had no extra base hits. They only hit into one double play, but the kids just couldn’t get the big hit to score runs. After he came into the game, Brian Buscher tried to break it open, with 2 men on he hit a line drive smash down the 3B line. Bill Hall made a great lunging catch of the ball that I thought was a sure double off the bat. Todd Linden pinch hit for an RBI single for the only other Giants run of the game. The Giants had FIFTEEN men left on base. Lots of baserunners….no timely hits.

All in all, I thought it was a very competitive game considering the lineup the Giants trotted out there. The pitching was mostly good, with the exception of Tyler Walker’s sudden inability to throw strikes. I think we may be looking at a lot of games like this, until Bonds gets on the field and the four WBC bound starters return to camp.

DISCLAIMER: Every year when I start reviewing Spring Training games, I get a number of people reminding me it is only Spring Training and I shouldn’t worry about player performance. Before the first of those comments arrives, let me assure you that I am not at all worried about player performance until the last week or so of games. I am merely reviewing the performance of the players I have seen. If they perform well, I will say that…….and if they stink……I will also say that. As a matter of fact, being an old athlete and coach, I am a superstitious guy. The Giants always have their best seasons after having terrible Spring Training records. Last year the Giants had their best spring record in years……..but look what happened in the regular season. I would rather the Giants had a losing spring……..the superstition in me believes they will have a better year if they do.


Mark said...

In regards to your disclaimer: I only found out about your website this week, but I have to say it's GREAT to read your articles... so keep it up!!

DrBGiantsfan said...

So far, Munter, Taschner and Accardo have pitched shutout innings. Fassero, Kline Walker........Hmmm

steve S said...

I've been really enjoying this new blog for the past week or two, although I think this is the first time I have left a comment. I think you have way more experience attending spring training games than do I, but my impression is that spring training games early in the year are first the major league regulars, then the minor league free agents and then finally the prospects at the end of the game. I could easily be wrong, but right now my projection is that Tomas De La Rosa will be the starting shortstop at Fresno, with Angel Chavez the starting third baseman.

taurusmoon said...

Hey Pedro Feliz around? I didn't think he was doing the WBC. Is he playing? Do tell what you see?

Also, what's your first impressions of Kline thus far?