Thursday, April 17, 2008


This Things I Believe

This post is just going to be a series of observations and some rantings about the Giants' season so far, but I'm going to start off with a plea to Bruce Bochy, Brian Sabean and co. Please, please, continue to play the young guys. This weekend, with a Giants lineup filled with Fred Lewis, John Bowker, Eugenio Velez and, yes, even Bocock!, I got to listen to actual exciting Giants baseball on the radio for the first time since, like, 2004. Do you know how good that felt? All because I didn't have to listen to another inning of washed up veterans going down meekly against a fringe Cardinal pitcher.

If the Giants give these guys regular playing time, the team may not be good, but they'll be like ten times more interesting, and that's really all I ask for. I don't need another 200 Rich Aurilia at-bats to realize he's got a fork sticking out of his back. What I do need is an answer to whether or not Bowker is more Will Clark than J.R. Phillips. I want to know if Velez can handle major league pitching consistently and make use of his blinding speed. It's fun to find out, and I'm not sure Giants ownership understands that.

So please, oh wise (ahem) makers of the lineup card, continue to pencil in these unproven players every day, for the sake of us fans who are tired of watching the usual sad Ray Durham trek back to the dugout.

--This is going to sound awful, but the Dave Roberts injury is probably the best thing that could have happened to the Giants. Fred Lewis is now finally getting a shot to play every day and if he keeps hitting (like he always has throughout the minors and briefly in the majors), there will be no excuse to bench him when Roberts comes back. Lewis is a patient hitter with doubles pop, some speed, and in a good year he'll probably smack 15 homers. He's no franchise-turner, but he is a lot of fun, and I'll be savoring his playing time while it's here.

On the radio this weekend, Dave Flemming was saying something about how Giants management is just now realizing that, hey, Lewis just might be a decent option at the leadoff spot after all. Gee, ya think? If Bochy, et al are now just figuring this out, that's indefensible. Lewis should have been made a starter and leadoff man last year, and the team shouldn't have signed Roberts at all.

Speaking of which, Lewis's hitting is making the Roberts contract look more ridiculous by the day. You've heard me say it before, but I hated the signing then, and I hate it even more now, because the Giants are now stuck with way too many outfielders than they know what to do with. When Roberts does come back, he'll likely just take over for Lewis in left field, because it doesn't look good to have a player making $6 million sitting on the bench. Just ask the Dodgers.

Nothing against Roberts. Really, I hope he recovers fully and, who knows, if he does come back and play regularly, and play well, maybe he can build up some trade value. It's just a damn shame that his shitty contract is going to give him all the burn at the expense of a guy who deserves it way more.

--Jose Castillo isn't good, but if he can continue this freaky doubles thing and get his OBP over .300, at least we'll be able to give Sabean some credit for picking up a decent (and cheap) stopgap on the fly. Castillo is basically Pedro Feliz without the power, defense, or, most importantly, the $5 million being burned to a crisp. After the team was on the brink of a Joe Crede-for-something-living disaster, I'll take it.

--It's hip these days to rip on Barry Zito after his 0-4 start and the sad sight of his velocity sinking into Little League World Series territory. I like to see the lighter side of it, though. With Zito's ability to stay healthy, and the Giants' inability to score many runs and, well, win games, what are the chances that Zito loses 20 this year? Not that it's really anything to root for, but how many 20-game losers do you see these days? Like, none. Mike Maroth did it in 2003, but before him it hadn't happened in 23 years. This is Zito's chance to be unique.

If he does lose 20, he may unwittingly be doing a public service. He can be the perfect cautionary tale for those still-backwards GMs on the dangers of handing pitchers big money contracts. I can hear the Ned Collettis and Wayne Krivskys now: "Hey, look at Zito! He was given $126 million, and he lost 20 games in the second year of the deal! We had better not be doing anything like that!" It's doubly precautionary because Zito is a Boras client, and Boras always seems to con absurd contracts for his players (well, most of them). So the Giants could be doing the baseball world a favor. See, the Zito situation isn't all bad.

--I loved the whole Bocock! drawing walks thing in the first week of the season, but sadly the free passes have dried up since NL pitchers have realized that he can't hit the ball out of the infield. Omar Vizquel's rehab is going ever so slowly, so it looks like Bocock! will continue to flail away for a few more weeks.

I mean, I don't want to rip on the guy. Bocock! has been put into a situation where he is way over his head (kinda like me going on a date with Minka) and he is just overmatched, striking out a ton and going off too early when he gets to first base (yup, just like me on a date with Minka). As Lefty recounted today, if given a full season's worth of at-bats, he'd likely be the worst hitter to play regularly in history. But at least he'd be our historically awful hitter.

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