Sunday, February 08, 2009

Rainy Day In Scottsdale


Well, the good news is I am in beautiful, sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. It is exactly 6 days until pitchers and catchers report and exactly a week from today will be the first workout. So we are that much closer to the return of baseball. Always a special time in my life….probably yours too, or why else would you be reading this?

The bad news is; that it is absolutely pouring here in Scottsdale. I arrived on Wednesday and the temperature upon touchdown at Sky Harbor Airport was 82 degrees. Then 80 on Thursday, 75 on Friday and 70 yesterday. It is predicted to be 63 today, then dropping all the way down to 59 by Tuesday. I know that is downright balmy to those of you from cold weather climates, but that is 11 degrees below average temperature for Phoenix at this time of year. Yes, it’s true. The average temperature in Phoenix, Arizona in February is 70. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I come here, I seem to inspire weather that is either 10 degrees higher than normal or 10 degrees lower than normal.

The really bad news is that I started to write this post to complain that rain was in the forecast for the first workout on the 15th. Luckily, when I just checked accuweather.com, they have taken rain out of the forecast. Let’s just hope it stays that way. Over the past three days, rain has been in and out of the forecast for next Sunday several times. It’s always disappointing when you wait for something for so long and then it gets spoiled by the weather. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

The real question, rain or shine, is what kind of team will be showing up in Scottsdale when the Giants come to town (“it’s by, by baby”….sorry I couldn’t resist). The pitching is pretty well set. So we know who will be here on the 15th. Is Lowry healthy and can he contribute? Can the Big Ugly hold it together for one more year and win 15 games or so? How about Jonathan Sanchez? Can he finally get over his inconsistency and be the force that his raw ability seems to suggest? Will Matt Cain finally get some run support and find the strike zone more consistently this year? The walks have just been killing him. Can Timmy Lincecum repeat or perhaps even improve on last year’s Cy Young season? How about the (hopefully) new and improved bullpen? Will Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry help the pen cut down on all the wins they cost the starting rotation in the 6th through 8th innings? Good questions all.

It is rumored that the Giants made an offer to Joe Crede. Can that guy stay healthy for just 1 year? Rich Aurillia has been offered a minor league contract with an invite to the Major League camp. I like Richie as a utility infielder and a little right handed pop off the bench. The question is can Bruce (I Love My Veterans) Bochy leave him on the bench, where he should be, or will he make him a starter the first time a youngster falters……as I would fully expect him to do? The Manny Ramirez rumors continue to circle around out there like a flock of buzzards. I love his bat, but boy would his defense kill our poor pitchers. You guys think Bonds was bad in his last couple of years. I don’t expect it to happen. The Dodgers will cave and give him the house.

How about our youngsters? Will they actually get playing time FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR this year? Can Fred Lewis continue his development with the bat and glove or was last year a fluke? Will Pablo Sandoval continue to be a stud with the bat and do an acceptable job on defense? Will the Giants find a position for him to play? Is this the year that Kevin Frandsen finds a place to play regularly. Will management give him a chance to show whether or not his Arizona Fall League performances were the exception or the norm? Can Giants management find a few at bats for Nate Schierholtz or will his ABs get taken by Dave Roberts?

As with the last few seasons, there are lots and lots of questions going into the spring. I am probably in the minority, in that I am a patient fan. I would like to see the Giants not make ANY of the rumored moves involving veteran position players. I like the pitching moves that the Giants have made and the Giants’ Minor League system is stacked with pitchers who are not quite ready but should be studs. BUT, I would just as soon play the young position players this season. It is time to see if Fred Lewis, Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz, Manny Burriss and Eugenio Velez can contribute as Major League players/starters. They aren’t getting any younger! If the likes of Roberts, Crede, Aurilia and Uribe take the at bats and innings away from our youngsters, we will still be guessing as to what they can do in the big leagues (or will lose them completely if removed from the 40 man roster). And the problem is, I know, deep down in my heart……..that if the veterans are on the roster………Bruce Bochy WILL play them. He can’t help himself. And that’s too bad, because the good teams have a young nucleus of starters and have grizzled veterans coming off the bench…..not the other way around.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Giants are vastly superior to where they were at this time last year. I think they are maybe one year away from serious contention. But, absent acquiring a HUGE bat, I don’t see them having a real good chance of going to the top this year. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Doesn’t mean I am not hoping that everything clicks and the Giants win the division and go deep into the playoffs. Hope springs eternal in the spring. At least in baseball it does. But you can’t let hope cloud your judgment.

I think the wise move is to play all the youngsters so you can sort the wheat from the chaff. Make a final determination of who is and who isn’t starter and backup material. Then next off-season, you can cut loose the deadwood and have a real good idea of exactly the type of team you have. None of this “oh, we are going to play Sandoval at 3B, or 1B, or catcher depending on who we sign”. Then you can go out and fill the holes via trade or fee-agency…….but at least you will KNOW where the holes are. Right now, you really don’t know……and you didn’t last year…..or the year before……..or the year before….and you still won’t know next spring if all the playing time is taken up by washed up or even soon to be washed up veterans.

Well, I started out to write a 3 paragraph post about the weather, before I got up on my soapbox. But, what better is there to do on a rainy Sunday morning between both baseball and football season? I feel about the baseball season like that old Mervyn’s commercial………open, open, open, open……..

19 comments:

allfrank said...

Yes, I'm in LA and it's cold and rainy here today, too.
I am inclined to agree with you as far as playing the young guys. I think what has happened is, with other teams not signing FAs. Sabean sees guys like Johnson and Crede as really affordable (whereas they weren't last year) and thinks, hell, we might be able to continue preparing for '10 and '11 AND compete in '09 AND not have to break the bank.
So I give him credit for being flexible, for seeing an opportunity that we wouldn't have expected in Oct and making the adjustment and going for it.

Mr. Burglecutt said...

Wow, that is a lot of rain, Hank! I'll be coming down to AZ for ST on Feb. 15. Hopefully it won't be raining by then. Hope to see you there!

Regards, Mr. Burglecutt

Lars said...

It is great to see your blog come back to life. Take care, Hank!

-Lars

WalrusMan said...

Great to see you on here again for ST! I'll be reading throughout the year.

Will said...

Thanks for the tips. I guess I'll be there on the morning of the 15th! Who knows, if Buster becomes a franchise player then the Giants may just become my NL team....

I live down in Tempe and it rained all night at my apartment, and some this morning. Hopefully it will dry up by this weekend, geesh. So much for the "dry season."

I enjoy the blog, keep up the good work!

rockie said...

So ready for BB I can hardly stand it anymore.

Great post. Lets get it going.

55saveslives said...

Almost time!!!

Fanfest was a great start!

We need pics of RJ in our colors.

Lyle said...

I agree absolutely with your assessment of the team's situation.

And I'm looking forward to your reports this spring. My wife and I hope to be there in person next March, so I may be asking you some specific questions as the time goes by.

Thanks for all your work.

kumar said...

Soooooo nice to see the operation in full swing again!!

-Kumar, aka "Hairball" at McC

kevin said...

Just got back Sunday from a great weekend in the bay! Perfect weather for fan fest, sunny and warm all day saturday. Met RJ and he was real nice. Good turn out this year as well. Sorry weather was so horrible out there. I live in SoCal and I was amaze to escape the rain I had to head up there. I'm in total agrement with you on Crede, but think Uribe and Aurilla are needed. With the exception of renteria, we don't have any proven infielders. Uribe helped, but now Aurilla makes it crowded for the young guys. If both Uribe and Aurilla makes the team, do you know if Nate, Velez, or Burriss have to be released if we can't make a spot on the roster?

Giantfan9 said...

Lyle...To my knowledge....Nate has no options left and must make the team or is subject to waiver claim. Burriss and Velez have options left and can be sent to the minors. I am sure about Nate and Manny.....I only think I am right about Velez.

As I said...if I were manager.....I would love to have Aurilia on my bench. The problem is I do not trust Bochy to not use him as a starter. With most managers I would agree with you re: Aurilia....not with Bochy. With Uribe, we will have to agree to disagree.

Sammo's Autos said...

Hi Giantfan9

Do you know if the team works out on Sunday 2/15 in the morning. I wanted to catch a workout that morning. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and great blog!

Samson

Sammo's Autos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giantfan9 said...

Sammo - The team works out every morning. They are usually finished by 1PM or earlier. Tomorrow (Sunday 2/15) will be their very first workout. Should be fairly short.

SB said...

I feel the same way yo do about the younger position players Hank. Thanks for writing ol' buddy - I really appreciate your blog :)

Giantfan9 said...

SB...wish you could come for a couple of games. Gotta do that again someday.

Bijon Orton said...

You attended 125-130 games in 2008? That is pretty amazing. There are only 81 regular season home games a year, so you must be making a lot of trips to LA, AZ, and SD during the regular season. Also, I'm assuming you are counting the spring training games also. That is a LOT of games!

Giantfan9 said...

That total includes Spring Training, Regular Season and the Arizona Fall League (plus the occasional regular Minor League game).

Bijon Orton said...

I forgot to mention minor league games. How about college games?