Friday, January 27, 2006
So Many Problems, So Little Time
Far be it from me to cast a questioning eye toward anything written by the all-mighty Rich Draper, but here's an article about the Giants' corner infielders that's just a little too rosy for my tastes. The Giants' first base situation is, right now, a mess. As it stands, Lance Neikro and Mark Sweeney will man the position in a lefty/righty platoon. I've been an advocate of giving Neikro the regular job until he proves he can't handle it. Sadly, he may have already proven that nicely with his .587 OPS vs right-handed pitching. Still, here are some encouraging words from Neikro himself:
"I want to improve on everything -- patience at the plate, cut down on strikeouts and add some walks, work on defense."
Oh, thank GOD. A young guy actually admitting he has flaws and who has a plan to improve. Neikro's power was nice last year (.460 slugging) but his ability to draw a walk was nonexistent. If Neikro can learn to lay off offspeed pitches a foot off the plate instead of flailing at them wildly, he could turn into quite the asset. As for Sweeney, he's a good hitter, and I like the signing, but the idea of him as a semi-regular makes me queasy. At 35, I'm doubting he can repeat his .861 OPS of last year.
Then, of course, we have Pedro Feliz, the other black hole of a Giants corner infielder. Here's a passage from the Draper article that's good for a few laughs:
"Feliz, who turns 31 on April 27, had a breakout year in 2005, leading the Giants in games played (156), homers (20) and RBIs (81). Feliz still has his detractors after a poor second half, but his defense has improved greatly."
Well, whoopdy-shit, break out the champagne and give him a Silver Slugger! He led the team in games played! Yeeeeee-haaaw! Feliz was, pure and simple, a disaster at the plate last year. The term "breakout year" being employed by Mr. Draper can only make sense in some sort of bizarro world where Scott Spezio struck out in 2002, the Giants still had Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, and Feliz walks 100 times a year and spits on first-pitch sliders in the dirt.
So, yeah, he hit 20 homers. Boo-yah, it looks good on a baseball card, but his .717 OPS is unacceptable for a third baseman and his frequent first pitch groundouts on lazy sliders off the corner of the plate threatened to turn me into a vengeance-crazy, post-apocalyptic lawman. I might as well reserve the Pedro Feliz-as-nuclear-waste rant for later, because I feel I'm going to be spreading a lot of anti-Pedro sentiment on this blog in the coming season, but his position, regardless of what some space cadet beat writer says, is one the Giants need to upgrade now.