Week in Review (4/11-4/17)

Results:

4-2 (8-7 overall; 4.0 GB)

6-1 L vs.LA; 5-4 W vs.LA; 4-3 W vs.LA; 5-2 W @ Ari; 5-3 W @ Ari; 6-5 L @ Ari

Hitter of the Week:

Aaron Rowand keeps trying to sneak his way into this honor, but I refuse (although he collected more total bases this week than Buster Posey did)…so, tie…Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Somewhere, there is a version of 2010 that had Posey and Sandoval in the middle of lineup, mashing the NL and leading the Giants to glory. The Giants found glory in 2010 and Posey had a lot to do with it but Pablo forgot about his role. Looks like he’s back, though, and this is the vision we had last year. Also, these guys are  24 years old!!! 5 home runs and 13 RBIs. Well done boys, we’ll take some more please!

Pitcher of the Week:

Matt Cain continue to quietly dominate. How solid is this kid (won’t be 27 until the season is over)? He always seems to be overlooked and that trend continues this week, because the beard is back. Brian Wilson: 4 games, 4 saves, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 hit. And he ended a 1 run game against the Dodgers (5-4) by striking out the side. BW thank you for being awesome. Pitcher of the Week. You’re welcome.

Looking Ahead:

Bottom line: the Rockies are wicked hot. The Giants play them next. Three times. At Coors Field. There is no way that is going to go well. Right? The good news is Lincecum, Sanchez, and Cain get the starts. The bad news is the Rockies are hot and only bad things happen at Coors. This is a cover-your-eyes-and-peek-through-a-finger-to-watch-the-action type of series. Not looking forward to it. After that, back to SF for three against the Braves who are not off to a great start, but that is still a good team.

Zito is now on the DL, Torres is on the DL, and Ross is coming off the DL (possibly this week). As a result, this team is still a work in progress. That said, the week ahead will go a long way to giving some shape to what kind of season this will be. Big, important week. Go Giants.

(-SB)

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Crowded in the Outfield

The Giants have a problem. Actually they have a few this season, but the one I’m most focused on has to do with having too many Outfielders and not nearly enough roster space.

The Legendary Cody Ross, he of last years NLCS MVP-ness, will quite obviously return to starting in Right Field once he comes off of the DL, so the question is then which Giant gets bumped for the roster space? This might not be a huge issue if Andres Torres ends up on the DL, but at some point in the near future,the Giants will have one player on the roster too many. So who loses out? Let’s take a look at some options.

Aaron Rowand: Going into the season, Rowand was nothing more than a 5th outfielder who was making way too much money and couldn’t hit to save Buster Posey’s life. At the start of the season he was my choice to be traded (or rather given away for a dozen bats or something) or just plain cut. However something has happened since then. He’s actually hitting. Not great, not outstanding, but he’s hitting, which is something the Giants as a whole are lacking right now. His defense isn’t there anymore, but is he on the chopping back?

Nate Schierholtz: 4th outfielder who isn’t hitting well, but is filling in as the Giants late innings defensive replacement. At this point no Giants fan sees Schierholtz as anything other than an extra defender, but that’s totally ok. He’s young, got good defense and has no more minor league options,which is a big issue to consider when thinking about who is leaving the team.

Pat Burrell: Oh Pat. Pat, Pat, Pat. Burrell has a lot of things going for him. Last years heroics, a really cheap contract…and actually that’s about it at this point. Pat may have 3* home runs, but his offense as a whole has been lacking. He’s not great in the outfield and, as stated above, he’s on a super cheap contract, which means the Giants wont be eating that much money if they cut him loose.

Brandon Belt: Calm down Giants Nation. Yes I am mentioning sending The Chosen One down to AAA as a possible fix for the outfield problem. Multiple reasons why I think this: First, his offense hasn’t been all that great. He’s totally shown potential and has shown flashes of brilliance but I don’t’ think it would kill him to season a bit at AAA for a while. Second, Aubrey Huff, by far, should be a first baseman, not an outfielder. This move would let Huff go back to first, opening up room in the outfield. Finally, Belt has minor league options remaining, which means the Giants wouldn’t lose anyone in the process.

Mark DeRosa: Will not happen since he is owed a good deal of money and can play pretty much any position.

So what do I think? Honestly at this point it’s down to trading/cutting Pat Burrell or sending down Belt. I think Burrell getting cut is the most likely, Belt being sent down makes the most sense to me. But what say you readers? Feel free to opine!

(-NW)

Remember This Guy?

ObsessiveGiantsCompulsive wrote a great article a week ago about the “Big 6” issues/questions facing the returning champs this spring. I would recommend that post if you are looking for a run down of what to watch for during the next month.

I think the Giants have all the right kinds of questions this spring: can so and so bounce back? how will the pitchers hold up this year? who will lock down left field? who will be last man in the bullpen? Interesting questions and important in their own right (especially in regards to the pitchers), but nothing earth shattering or riveting.

Look at some of the other playoff teams from last year and you will some major story lines: The Yankees and Jeter. The Yankees and The Rotation. The Rays and Rebuilding (and Manny). The Rangers and the Michael Young Fiasco. The Phillies and Cliff Lee. The Braves and the First Year After Bobby Cox.

The Giants? Well, Brian Wilson did some weird stuff, and there are too many guys for the outfield, and Tim Lincecum had a mustache for a day or two, and Pablo Sandoval lost of bunch of weight, and Mat Latos wrote some dumb stuff on a baseball, and Bochy made a speech, and how boring is this? Hey, wait, there are too many guys in the outfield?

I wrote a few weeks ago about Barry Zito and how now might be the best time to trade him (hello Yankees), but, ironically, this might be the year the Giants need Zito more than ever. Aaron Rowand is the other atrocious contract the Giants carry at this point, and while the length of Zito’s will always be the trump card, I think there is a compelling case to be made that Rowand has the worst contract in SF Giants’ history.

Which is why, in the big picture, Aaron Rowand is the biggest/most interesting story of the spring…mostly because he’s been such a non-story. Since when does a guy earning 10% of the payroll (the best paid position player on the team) become so invisible?

A quick examination of the outfield candidates reveals that he is the most unnecessary player on the roster. You want a leadoff hitter: Andres Torres. You want an excellent defensive center fielder: Andres Torres. You want some right-handed power: Pat Burrell (or Cody Ross). You want versatility and a nice late-inning replacement for defense: hello, Nate Schierholtz. You want a guy who can play multiple positions: hey there Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz, Mark DeRosa, and even Aubrey Huff! Right handed Pinch Hitter: again, Pat the Bat. There is no category I can think of where I would place Rowand at the top of the list.

Nothing I’m saying here is new, but I think the Rowand situation highlights how low-key things are around the Giants right now. Really, this should be a bigger story. I actually think Rowand could help a major league team out in an everyday role, but it’s just not the Giants. Has there ever been a more expensive 5th or 6th outfielder in ML history?

The Giants are paying Zito way too much money to be a 5th starter, but that’s still a legitimate role and he helps the team in a significant way. But the Giants are going to be paying Rowand a ludicrous sum to sit on the bench.

Bochy made a mildly controversial statement about there being no guaruntee that Torres starts the season as the CF, but come on, who’s kidding who here?

This spring everyone will say all the right things and it will be nice and politically correct and Rowand seems to be handling it well, But come May when he has 16 At-Bats and he’s buried on the end of the bench behind Burrell, Ross, DeRosa, Huff, et al. how nice will he be then?

I don’t have any good solutions (I could propose a few fantastical trade ideas), but I do think this will become a serious issue at some point. Last season it was easy to swallow in the name of “doing what’s best for the team,” but in the first half of 2011, before the pennant picture clears up, something will go down and it will probably be ugly. Even if Rowand is cool about it, how do you justify 20 million dollars rotting away in the corner of the dugout.

No idea how this ends up: could be a trade, could be the Giants’ swallowing a huge chunk of change, but my gut tells me it won’t end well.

(-SB)