…well, sort of a report from Scottsdale. I am in Scottsdale as I post this, but we arrived late yesterday afternoon and haven’t been to a game or to the ballpark yet. We did get here in time for dinner at the iconic Don & Charlie’s, a beloved Scottsdale steakhouse full of baseball memorabilia. They are closing their doors for good in April, so we wanted to go one more time. Here are some photos I took last night. It was a challenge because the place was packed.
This Week In Giantsville
Last week I noted that even though the off-the-field news (no Bryce, Larry Baer on TMZ) was awful, at least the team was winning. The Giants promptly went into a tailspin and didn’t win another Cactus League game until last night (more on this in a minute). Oh, and Larry Baer is “on leave” and being investigated by the San Francisco DA, and Cameron Maybin got a DUI, and we still don’t have a new outfielder of any description. Ugh.
We could wallow in this some more, but instead let’s focus on some spring bright spots (or at least the so-far, so-good crew).
- Joe Panik: He looks great, having lost “10-15 pounds” per Kruk & Kuip on TV Thursday night, and is hitting .471 for spring. We spent all winter wondering if he was going to be traded, but now we get to watch his great bounce-back season instead.
- Tyler Beede: In just a few weeks, Beede has gone from “first-round bust” to the “story of the spring.” He’s pitched 7 innings, allowed 1 run on 2 hits, with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. His stuff looks nasty, his command is much improved, and he looks confident. Grant Brisbee had a nice piece about him in The Athletic yesterday. Beede is a friend of TWG–Greek Giant did a great interview with him a couple years ago, and Crawnik and I met him at a River Cats game–so we especially wish him well.
- Jeff Samardzija: Nobody had any idea what to expect from him coming into camp, but so far he’s been healthy and effective. In two starts, he’s gone 5 innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 runs, walking 2, and striking out 5.
- Sam Dyson, Will Smith, Tony Watson, Reyes Moronta: So far, so good–no runs allowed by any of these core bullpen guys.
- Travis Bergen: Rule 5 Guy #1 is off to a great start in spring with five strikeouts in four innings and a 0.00 ERA.
- Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt: Longo is hitting .421 with two homers, and Belt is hitting .375 with a homer.
- Yangervis Solarte and Gerardo Parra: These two non-roster players are hitting .300+ and playing well in the field. They both appear to be sure things to make the team at this point.
- Stephen Vogt: Vogt has not been behind the plate yet and has only DHed, but his results at the plate are encouraging, considering he hadn’t played in nearly a year. He was 2 for 2 vs Cleveland last night and is hitting .500 (5 for 10) this spring.
Last Night’s Game
The Giants had lost five straight games going into their roadie at Cleveland (uh, I guess I mean at Goodyear). While last night’s game wasn’t inspiring with the bats, the pitching was great, with three pitchers combining for a four-hit shutout with one walk and eight strikeouts. It was good to see strong four-inning outings each from Drew Pomeranz (who started) and Derek Holland, as both had been roughed up in their previous appearances, and both seem like sure things for the initial rotation. Trevor Gott, who will be one of the many tough decisions coming up about the bullpen, got the save with a clean ninth inning and strikeout. Gott was picked up off waivers from the Nationals and is out of options.
We are now not even three weeks from Opening Day, and while the roster decisions are far from made, the choices are coming clearer.
Rotation: It seems pretty clear at this point that we’re looking at some combo of Bumgarner, Samardzija, Holland, Pomeranz, and probably Dereck Rodriguez. It’s still possible that D-Rod starts the season in AAA to save Chris Stratton from being lost on waivers, but it’s just hard to imagine that D-Rod doesn’t break camp on the big league squad. Andrew Suarez and Ty Blach have options, and I hope they’re looking for apartments in Sacramento. Even if they were having great springs, which they’re not, the numbers just don’t add up for them. Much as I’d like to see Tyler Beede sneak in there, if he makes the club at all, I’m guessing it’ll be as a long reliever.
Bullpen: Yikes, what a scrum. We got one bit of info in Zaidi’s interview this week–while we’ve guessed he might trade from the bullpen depth to get another outfielder, he likes his bullpen and thinks it’s going to carry the team. So don’t expect Will Smith, Tony Watson, or Sam Dyson to go anywhere at this point, but I guess you never know until you know. Anyway, those three guys, Reyes Moronta, and, sigh, Mark Melancon appear to be locks. (Moronta does have the dreaded option, though.) If the Giants carry 13 pitchers, that would be eight relievers including a long man. The other three would come from a group that includes the out-of-options trio of Gott, Stratton, and Steven Okert, Rule 5 Guy Bergen, Pat Venditte, Nick Vincent, and Ray Black, with Tyler Beede as a possible dark horse/Archie Bradley fireman type. My25ManGuys™ roster sent Feb. 25 had the following seven guys, and I’m sticking with it at this point: Smith, Watson, Melancon, Dyson, Moronta, Venditte, Vincent, and if they’re going with eight, Bergen. But I could see an alternate universe where they let Venditte go and instead keep Stratton or Beede as the long reliever.
Backup catcher: Cameron Rupp was sold to the Tigers yesterday, and Vogt is not expected to be ready to catch by Opening Day, so this competition appears to be down to Aramis Garcia and Rene Rivera. Rivera and Garcia have both looked good this spring. Much as I’d like it to be Aramis, I’m guessing he goes to AAA to play every day while Rivera earns the spot (and they keep an eye on Vogt). There is decent depth here, important as Buster Posey slowly makes his way back after surgery.
Outfielders: As the days and weeks tick by with no new additions, it’s beginning to look like what we’ve got is what we’ve got. So I’m sticking with the Opening Day prediction of Parra/Steven Duggar/Mac Williamson. If they keep a fourth outfielder–no sure thing–Maybin has the edge on Rule 5 Guy #2 Drew Ferguson (who has to be offered back to the Astros if he doesn’t make the team). Solarte has started in LF a couple times this week, so I think we can take that as an indicator that they plan to use him as an all-round backup infielder/outfielder. Belt and Alen Hanson (if they keep Hanson) can also play LF (well, sort of). So the bench choices appear to be some combo of Garcia or Rivera, Pablo Sandoval, Solarte, Maybin, and Hanson.
As mentioned, Farhan Zaidi in a media appearance on Thursday said that he still hopes to add a right-handed-hitting outfielder to the mix and that he prefers to do so via trade rather than free agency (sorry, Adam Jones). Maria Guardado, who covers the Giants for mlb.com along with Chris Haft, had a good list of possible trade targets who would fit. Of the ones she listed, I like Aaron Altherr—strong defender, three remaining years of control, and there might be a matchup in that the Phils could absolutely use a good lefty reliever. And it seems like the least the Phillies could do after nabbing Harper.
Cubs at Giants, Scottsdale Stadium, 12:05 p.m. PST
Cole Hamels vs. Dereck Rodriguez
Our exhausting morning schedule includes ambling downstairs for breakfast at some point (I’ve already gone down for my latte because how else would I write a blog post) and then heading over to the park early to shop for swag. I’ll add a bonus post tomorrow to talk about our day at the park. So Lefty not quite out.