Pitchers and Catchers have reported, spring is right around the corner, the rest of the team is on the way, baseball is back people! Time to start firing up the baseballmonk again.
To celebrate this grand occasion here are the 10 things I am watching as camp gets started:
- The Ankle: No body part is going to get as much attention during the baseball season as Buster Posey’s repaired ankle. Part of me wants to believe the dude is going to go on a rampage this year and prove that he is an upper level superstar. The other part of me (tempered by my physical therapist wife) knows that it’s going to be a process with some ups and downs. Either way, Buster will be sick of hearing about it by yesterday.
- The Contracts: Still nothing on the Matt Cain front. Still a possibility Lincecum and the team tear up the 2-year deal and go longer. My guess: nothing happens and we hold our breath next winter. But the question remains: will this be a distraction?
- The Lineups: It is obviously foolish to read too much into the lineups early in the Spring, but there is a lot to look out for from day 1. How will Bochy handle shortstop? A platoon? Crawford with some backups? What about right field? Is that Nate the Great’s spot? Or is Melky the favorite? Will Brandon Belt be in left? Or at First Base? Or in Fresno? Is Angel Pagan really the leadoff hitter? Can Melky Cabrera really be a middle of the order guy? How long before the team pulls the plug on Huff? Or will he bounce back?
- The Belt situation: The way I see it Brandon Belt has to have a huge spring, again, if he wants to start the season in San Fran. Even just a good spring means a ticket back to Fresno until someone gets hurt. It’s a shame, but I don’t see it playing out any other way.
- Brian Wilson: So far, positive reports abound. 2012 is going to be a fascinating year for B-Dub. He either cements his position as one of the best in the game, or quite possibly, he looses his job to Heath Hembree. Seems harsh but that’s how it is in baseball.
- Health: Goes without saying that this was an issue last year and it started in spring with Wilson and Ross. Every team needs to be healthy, but the Giants, especially, cannot afford a repeat of 2011. Ominous beginnings with Ryan Vogelsong straining his back.
- The Non-Roster Invitee Battle: The Giants have spun magic over the past few years with these invitations: Juan Uribe, Ryan Vogelsong, Guillermo Mota, etc. This year, in my opinion, there is really one guy to watch: Brian Burres. Will the Giants magic rub off on him?
- Barry Zito’s magic beans: Seemingly every year Zito shows up with a new trick, delivery, potion, mustache, you name it, that is going to be the secret to a resurgence. Every year he teases us with signs that the talisman has paid off, and then crushes our hopes with a strong dose of suck. This year he’s done something to his motion to get extra, late movement. Great! Now throw the ball in the strike zone please.
- But seriously, short stop: I’ve been writing about this all winter. I am concerned about Posey and Sanchez. I’m not confident in Huff bouncing back. I’m not blown away by our offseason acquisitions. But, to be honest, the one thing I am genuinely concerned about is shortstop. It may turn out fine, but it could be a disaster. Crawford, Theriot, Fontenot. Wow. Pray that someone has a career year.
- The Prospetcs: There really isn’t anyone on this list that is in danger of making the club out of the gate, but who doesn’t want to see how Gary Brown, Erik Surkamp, Heath Hembree, and others do this spring against big league competition. I hope they all do great.
Lots to watch for, tons to talk about and analyze, but no matter what baseball is back and that is what really counts!