by DrLefty

The last time we saw Giants baseball was October 1, 2023. Today is February 25, 2024. It’s been over 4 1/2 months since We Who Bleed Orange and Black have seen our team on a baseball diamond. But today is the day–the first spring training game!  The details (time, radio/TV) are at the bottom of this post. Here is the Giants’ lineup plus the “extras” and pitchers who are scheduled to appear. If you really need to know the Cubs’ lineup, you can find it here. I will give you the spoiler that #ForeverGiant Mike Tauchman is leading off and playing CF for the Cubs.

We do not see Marco Luciano or Jung Hoo Lee in this lineup, both of whom are dealing with minor (we hope) soreness. Tweets from Susan Slusser speculate that both could be ready by Monday or Tuesday. New DH Jorge Soler is scheduled to make his Giants debut on Monday. (Tomorrow is a road game to Surprise, and surprise–the DH in the starting lineup is Pablo Sandoval!) On the pitching list, I”m most interested in seeing Hayden Birdsong, Carson Seymour, and Erik Miller, in that order.

 

First Week Vibes

For me the most interesting part of this first full week in camp is the “new sheriff in town” atmosphere. We’ve been so focused on free agents for the past couple of months that it’s easy to forget for a minute that oh, yeah, we have a new manager and (somewhat) new coaching staff. On Giants Talk, Alex Pavlovic (who’s now off paternity leave and in Scottsdale) mentioned that several players who felt shoved to the fringes in the Gabe Kapler regime have the sense that a “fresh pair of eyes” was on them. Specific names included Heliot Ramos (who’s been impressing in batting practice), Joey Bart, Sean Hjelle, and David Villar. All four of these guys were drafted in the pre-Zaidi era and seemed to be afterthoughts coming into camp, but it sounds like Bob Melvin and his coaches are committed to making their own eyes-on evaluations. (All that said, there’s no path for Bart to make the team out of camp unless Patrick Bailey or Tom Murphy gets injured, and we’re certainly not rooting for that. And Bart is out of options. But the others are not.)

The other “vibe” that has emerged is the infectious personality of new centerfielder Lee, who is “always smiling,” according to Wilmer Flores, who was interviewed on Giants Talk. Flores also said that Lee speaks pretty good English and even manages some Spanish. While Pablo Sandoval is highly unlikely to make the team, his personality and energy can only be a good thing during camp.

It’s important for we fans to remember that not only is there a whole new management/coaching structure, but there’s also been substantial turnover between last year’s and this year’s team. Gone are Brandon Crawford, Joc Pederson, Mitch Haniger, most of last year’s starting rotation (more on that below), and about half of the bullpen. The younger players in camp like Luis Matos and Ramos and Luciano have been around the organization for a few years now, but there are new guys, too–Lee, Soler, Murphy, Jordan Hicks, and Robbie Ray, as well as other fringier 40-man and non-roster additions. So this is a team culture and personality that is yet to be built. How the chemistry evolves will be interesting to watch.

Oh. Another “vibe” from the first week is the brouhaha over the new uniforms and especially the pants which appear to…not leave much to the imagination. I mean, I’ll be scrolling through Twitter and find myself feeling like I’m accidentally looking at p*rn and averting my eyes. I’m not linking to any photos because this is a family blog, but…you can search “see-through baseball pants” and see some really revealing photos, including of one of our young Giants.

 

A Rotation Hanging by a Thread

Obviously the most interesting stories were about the official arrival of Soler and the surprise addition of Sandoval, both of which Greek Giant covered in previous posts, along with the sobering news of Keaton Winn‘s elbow soreness. There was no damage found on his MRI, which is good, but…that means he had an MRI. And as GG outlined in his most recent post, Winn’s injury, or soreness, or however you want to put it, just emphasizes how thin the Giants’ rotation is at the moment. I mean, maybe we’re all hoping that Mason Black and Carson Whisenhunt make their debuts this season…but do we really want that to happen in the first half of April?

Let’s review. The starting pitchers currently on the 40-man roster are Logan Webb, Hicks (yeah, I know), Kyle Harrison, Winn, Tristan Beck, Kai-Wei Teng, Alex Cobb, Hjelle, and Trevor McDonald. Teng is injured and will not be ready for Opening Day. Cobb, as we know, will probably not pitch until June at the earliest. McDonald has not pitched above A ball. So if Winn isn’t ready for Opening Day, that means…Hjelle is in the rotation? Bullpen games? A non-roster invitee is put on the 40-man?

This time last year, the Giants were at least eight deep in possible starting pitchers (Webb, Cobb, Alex Wood, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, Anthony DeSclafani, Jakob Junis, Hjelle), with Harrison in the wings in AAA. Most of those guys are gone now or, in Cobb’s case, unavailable for awhile. There’s a reason they’re gone. It was such a mediocre bunch that the Giants literally were rolling out a two-man rotation (Webb and Cobb) by July. I’m not sad that we’re going a different direction. But when we’re at “These five guys and if someone rolls an ankle, who the hell knows?”–well, that’s going (too) hard to the opposite extreme.

 

My 26ManGuy™ 2024 Contest: A Note from HaakAway

Hello MyGuy™ Addicts,
It is time to go on record with who you think will be on the Opening Day 26-Man roster for SFG.
Remember you can modify your vote anytime until the March 17 deadline. Just keep the vote confirmation email you are sent. It has the link to edit your ballot.
As always, an “avwh” MyGuy button could be yours if you win.
It is real, not virtual.
It is metal, not plastic.
It is an original, vintage 2015.
Allen Hirsch deserves to be remembered. (He took the picture on the button of the seagull carrying off  the crab.)
HaakAway
Here is the ballot link …

 

Today’s Game!!!

Cubs at Giants, 12:05 p.m., Scottsdale Stadium

Drew Smyly vs. Logan Webb

Radio: KNBR; TV: Cubs Marquee Sports Network (maybe available if you get MLB.TV?)

Today there is no negativity, no teeth-gnashing about the big fish that got away and swam south or the fish still out there in the sea. It’s February, every team is 0-0, and anything is possible. Baseball is back, baby!!!  Lefty out.