Friday, February 23, 2018

Spring Training Update: 5 Burning Questions

We are off to a way too early start to the spring exhibition season, so let's put out some Burning Questions about what the Giants need to accomplish/learn in these games:

1.  Can an aging roster stay healthy all spring?  It's especially critical that the Big 3 SP's Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija stay healthy, not just through the spring but all season.  What is the likelihood of that happening?

2.  Can Steven Duggar win the starting CF job?  The Giants have to be hoping he does, because otherwise, their CF defense is the same gaping hole it was last year.

3.  Can the Giants find 2 at least average SP's out of the mix of Stratton, Blach, Derek Holland, Beede and Suarez?  If not, we may be looking at a revolving door of Dumpster Dive types filling in all season.

4.  Is Mark Melancon fully healthy?   The Giants aren't going anywhere without their $60 M Closer back to full health.

5.  Will we see Heliot Ramos in an MLB level exhibition game?  Not that it would mean anything, but how exciting would that be?

What are your burning spring questions for the Giants?


  1. 1. I think the 'big three' do, though the likeliest to break-down would be Cueto. As for the positional players... I have my doubts about Pence given his recent past. Other than that, all players are an injury risk.

    2. I think so. As long as they rate fielding the most important attribute. Sort of the 'Brandon Crawford call-up" thing where they bring him up to solidify the defense while plugging him in the #8 hole.

    3. I think Stratton & Suarez. Stratton at #4 because he really seemed to 'get it' last year. Suarez at #5 because he's got command of all his stuff and sports 4 average-or-better pitches. I think Beede is call-up later in the season as my impression of the Giants is they'll want to work him back up to speed after he missed so much time with injuries last year. Holland to be the 15-day DL replacement/injury floater.

    4. He says he is.

    5. If you keep this up, I'm getting a bucket of cold water to douse you with... :)

  2. I'm going with Blach for #4 -- it's his to lose, he's earned it if he keeps his head above water until the end of March. Haha, that would be an accomplishment.
    The BIG reason for Blach: he's proved he can go head-to-head with LA and Giants face the Bad Guys 10 times in the first month.
    IF he makes it through April, and the team hasn't fallen apart around him, it's a very positive omen.
    Duggar should play CF unless he's firmly below Mendoza and the wise ones decide that he needs some AAA pitching to regain confidence.
    If Johnny C gets some love, he'll be fine.
    The master scheduler did the Giants no favors with the first month, but unless they get down a lot, like 5th place and 10 games behind, this is a veteran roster with a veteran manager and could put it together. NOT like last year.
    It's a lot to ask of the SPs to pitch deep in the first month -- so what the RPs do will prepare the palette for the rest of the season. If they don't have to average more than 4 innings a game en toto and an inning each per day for the month, there will be hope, at least for month 2.
    Giants are asking the same question about Melancon -- maybe why they overpaid Dyson to be a set-up. BUT, they BOTH have to be good, which is also asking a lot.
    The Trainers and Medicine Men will have their hands full. By May, they may throw the proverbial towel.

    1. I gotta disagree re: Blach. He really didn’t have a good year in the rotation. It was just camouflaged by everyone else also having bad years. He even lost his spot at the end of year.

      Conversely, Stratton pitched quite well when he came up. I think he has the inside track on the #4 spot while Blach has the inside track for the #5, but is still fighting for the spot. Getting Watson might have actually helped his case for the #5 since there won’t be as big a need for him in the bully.

  3. Will Evan Longoria be able to adjust to NL pitching and give the team 20+ dingers and 80+ rbis? Will Andrew McCutcheon be able to handle playing RF at AT@T? My biggest concern is Hunter Pence playing LF for the time in his career. Maybe this is where Austin Jackson comes in? I think the FO will watch the OF play closely this spring. I read that Schulman thinks it's still possible that the Giants trade a young pitcher for a centerfielder.


    1. 20+ dingers for Longoria would be the absolute best case scenario. If he can give them solid D and 15 long ones, I'll be ecstatic.

    2. Whether deliberate or not, Giants traded for 2 power right-handed hitters perhaps giving up on finding the next Barry Bonds.
      If the 2018 version of Mac Williamson has found his swing, there's another righty to attack the cars in left field, and maybe that's where Kyle Jensen fits also. A true dark horse, Jensen is the anomaly that throws left and hits right -- maybe that a blessing for him at AT&T!

  4. 1. That seems to be the Giants ying and yang in the 2010's, one year healthy, next year, hit by injuries badly enough to not get into the playoffs. So given last year's injury woes, should be healthy enough to compete, especially since a lot of projections assume lowered performance due to the injuries. Cueto is my biggest worry in the Top 3 because he loudly and proudly said that he did nothing over the winter in regards to his blister problems. But that dovetails into my love for Stratton's curveball right now, that I'm not that worried, as I think Suarez, Blach, and Beede are ready for their close-up, in that order, plus I'm hopeful about Holland, given how well he pitched in the early part of 2017 before he lost it all.

    2. Yes, I think he will win the spot. Sabean has already come out and said he plays MLB defense in CF right now, so I think he does not have to hit more than replacement level in order to win the starting position in CF. And Jackson and Parker will be the backup OF, with Blanco in reserve in AAA, as insurance.

    3. I think Stratton and Suarez are ready. Stratton I think has broken out. Suarez had a very good 2017 AAA season, and has should ability and composure all the way up. But I think we are covered additionally by Blach, who I think would be adequate as #5 starter (just that I like Suarez more) and Beede will probably be ready by mid-season. He has the stuff to do it, but he just seems to need 1.5 years to figure things out at each level. And I think the Giants can figure out what Holland did in early 2017 to tap into that again, but that it would take him a while in AAA to get it all together.

    4. I agree, but I don't think anyone knows yet, but we should know by the end of spring training. I'm actually not too worried about it, particularly after signing Watson, because we have Dyson as the closer if anything goes wrong, with Watson & Strickland being setup, Smith being another setup when he's ready, and Gearrin being pretty good himself, and I think both Blach and Beede could be good in the bullpen as well.

    5. It would be EXTREMELY exciting! When I saw that tweet about it, I felt a burst of adrenaline and excitement! I hope that they do it, mainly because I don't think that they will do it unless he has something to show off.

  5. Burning Questions (some also asked by you):

    1. Can Stratton be as good as he was in his last 9 starts, or near enough? If he is, we potentially have a four ace staff, which is exciting to me, and obviates any worry about the #5 starter, as the Giants won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 with basically 3 ace performances, 1 average-ish performance (usually Zito), and 1 rotating rotation starter, a bunch of up and down performances that adds up to a typical #5 starter bad ERA. Him being this good will make everything else easy to handle, and will cover up a lot of injuries and poor performances.

    2. Cueto blister free? We really need him to deliver closer to 2016 than 2017.

    3. Can the Giants figure out Samardzija? I know this sounds weird, but he was totally up and down in 2017, and the Giants were apparently still fiddling with him on something during the season (see period of huge K vs. 1 walk), before apparently calming down for a great 10-12 start stretch to end the season, around low 3 ERA. We need results from him, not great peripherals without the ERA results. We need him to be an ace in his third season with us, he's been okay as mid-rotation guy the past two years of esperimenting and learning, but it's time for him to put it all together and deliver an ace level performance.

    4. Can the Giants figure out Derek Holland? He was superb in early 2017, but then was horrible the rest of the way. If they can figure him out, we got another mid or higher starting pitcher, or great lefty bullpen piece, and being playoff competitive is that much more easier. More good pitching is always better. And, if he can do this, it could enable the Giants to trade off an SP with a huge salary commit for a bundle of good prospects, and still be competitive for the playoffs (could, probably won't though, which is okay, as I believe in keeping great pitching around)

    5. Duggar starting CF? He just seems ready, based on what I've been reading/hearing, especially defense, but his bat sounds pretty good too, and I think with Panik, McCutchen, Posey, Belt, Longoria, Pence, Crawford in the lineup, he does not have to hit for much for our offense to still be very good for the pitching we got, even if Stratton "only" delivers a mid-rotation 2 WAR type of performance.

  6. #1: can they stay more than less healthy?
    #2: of the Magnificent 7 (Posey, Belt, Panik, Longoria, Crawford, McCutchen, and Pence), can they get 2 or 3 better than average years, 2 or 3 average years, and 2 (or less!) sub-average years?
    #3. can the real pitchers please stand up? 2 aces, 2 good guys, and 1 place holder, 1 closer, 1 loogie, and a couple like Gearrin?
    #4: can they get a guy in CF who can go to the fence and jump AND crash in and dive and make more than 1 spectacular play?
    #5: can they more or less play a whole season?