Sunday, September 03, 2006


Call-ups? I'd a' Called 'Em Chazzwazzers!

Rosters expanded to 40 a few days ago, and the Giants brought up several players from Fresno to serve as a little insurance down the stretch. Being a perennial September call-up must be it's own kind of hell, especially for guys on contenders. You're fed lip service about how you're really going to be a vital part of a playoff drive, only to be stuck on the pine for a month, giving hotfoots to batboys and lighting the superstars' cigarrettes. If your team wins a championship, you get a ring and all, but it's basically an empty gesture, and you don't even get a spot in the team photo.

Such is the life of these guys. You know the poor bastards. Wilson Delgado. Dante Powell. Brian Cooper. Corey Bailey. I guess once in a while you can get lucky and rise to the occasion a la Shane Spencer, but mostly you just serve as fodder for Krukow's horse laugh.

The Giants are a team right on the bubble. They're in the Wild Card hunt, but one misstep and it'll be time to start playing the young 'ins. That's why Lance Neikro and Jonathan Sanchez are here, to take playing time away from the vets if the Giants fall apart in the next week or so. Oddly enough, and I doubt Felipe Alou realizes this, but the Giants almost certainly have a better chance making the playoffs by giving these guys some playing time in lieu of crusty Steve Finley and co. Ah well. Here are the seven callups so far and how they figure to help.

Fred Lewis He roped a double in his first major league at-bat Friday, which is always exciting. Lewis isn't a prospect, but he's got the stick (.276/.375/.453 at AAA) and the speed to be a very good fourth outfielder. I don't see what the Giants have to lose by giving him all of Steve Finley's at-bats. Could he be any worse?

Brian Wilson He's 24, throws hard, and was fairly dominant at Fresno, so I'm excited. Of course, I also was excited about Jack Taschner's 2006 prospects, and we all know how that went. It hasn't happened for Wilson at the major league level, mostly because he's walked 17 batters in 23 innings, but the bare bones of talent are there. He should turn into one of those cheaply-utilized bullpenites that I like to rave about.

Jason Ellison Here's his line from AAA Fresno in 192 at-bats: .406/.452/.536. Um, what? All right, what joker peed in Jason's coffee and made him go all Vorhees against PCL pitching? I think we can chalk this up to good, old-fashioned flukiness, but if he wants to break out the Frank Thomas impression this month, more power to him.

Jonathan Sanchez Ok, now we're on to something. A September call-up with some meaning. Sanchez has excited the Giant community for a while now, with good reason. He doesn't throw that hard, but he has one of those bizarre deliveries in the Sid Fernandez vein that is hell for opposing batters to pick up. Thanks to that delivery, his fastball looks like 97 instead of 90, and his breaking pitches are just pure evil. To quote Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein: "Woof!"

He strikes me as a guy who could be murder on lefties, but he's too good to be a LOOGY. He impressed in his earlier cup of coffee with the Giants this season, and he's supposedly going to get a few starts down the stretch, hopefully in Brad Hennessey's stead.

One caveat: he's a beanpole, he's left-handed, and he's under 25, so he just screams injury risk, and he may have to be babied. Still, why curb the enthusiasm? Stay tuned.

Justin Knoedler The quintessential perennial September call-up guy, having amassed only 11 at-bats in two stints in the majors. Knoedler is purely insurance, so that Felipe can pinch hit Todd Greene in a key situation and not have to worry about not having a backup in case Elizier Alfonzo gets hurt. Knoedler stunk with the bat at both AAA and AA Connecticut, so this looks like it might be his career. At this point, even turning into Tom Prince looks bloody unlikely.

Scott Munter I liked Munter in the pen last year, but his horrible K/BB rate came back to bite him in the ass. Extreme ground ball pitchers who don't have a strikeout pitch can succeed (just look at Chien-Ming Wang), but they aren't good bets to have long careers. He's got to either figure out how to miss some bats or stop walking people if he's ever going to be worth a hoot.

Lance Niekro All right, enough already. I'm sick of this guy. Just sick of him. Every time he does something like smash 14 homers in 120 at-bats, we get excited, and then he fumbles away his chance to stick every freaking time. Geez, man, either make it last or just go away. This is the worst rollercoaster ride of crap since J.R. Phillips walked the earth. He's supposedly going to get a lot of playing time this month. My prediction: lots of wild swings, few walks, and a brand new hole punched into the wall of yours truly. Haven't we seen this before?


-The Giants did take the series from the Cubbies, thanks to some timely hitting, a couple homers from Bonds, and a sick pitching performance from Matt Cain. In the first few inings of Saturday's game, Cain was making Cubs hitters look positively silly. Jacque Jones is still wondering where that curveball is. Cain now has a 2.71 ERA since the Break, with 71 Ks in 66 innings. Is it time to get giddy yet?

The Giants now face the Reds, who have lost eight of their last ten games. If the Giants are going to make a move at the Wild Card, now's the time to do it.

-Armando Benitez has reached the point where he's become a disaster of such proportions that FEMA should just move in and blast him with a hose. When the man can't even be trusted to protect a three-run lead, what's the use of trotting him out there anymore? Give me Stanton, Wilson, Krazy Krab...anybody!

-What the hell is the point of this article by SI's John Donovan? The Giants are old? Duh. That the NL West sucks? Double Duh. That the Giants aren't a great team? Call Arthur Conan Doyle! We've got Sherlock fucking Holmes here, and he's writing for Sports Illustrated! Methinks maybe Donovan was a little bored at his desk on that particular day.

-And because it's been a solid three months since I've tossed a random picture of a hot chick up, yeah...

It's good to be back.

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