The first step towards actually seeing, hearing, and watching live baseball again has been taken. Pitchers and catchers in the Giants organization have reported to Scottsdale, Arizona and are in the early stages of baseball activities. It might not be much, but just hearing about and seeing a few brief images of ballplayers picking up their leather and tossing around baseballs is good news. The cold and desolate months lacking baseball are nearing their end.
Here’s a collection of some information that’s been popping up about Spring Training
- The Giants staff printed up a bunch of these shirts and placed them in each players locker. The phrase “Warrior Spirit, Find The Swagger” is screened onto the back of each camouflage shirt as the official new “tough, gritty, and speedy” Giants mantra. Pessimism aside, the shirts are pretty goofy and a little cringe-worthy. When baseball teams try to create slogans to get pumped up about, they’re usually bad (Example: Boston’s Cowboy Up! from a couple of years ago. Ugh!). I know the team is trying to find an identity, or something, but can’t you do it in some other way? The shirts remind me of those No Fear t-shirts you used to see around with badass sayings like “Second place is the first loser!”. Before I find the swagger, I’d rather find a decent offense. Oh, and maybe a couple of guys to play third and first.
- Henry Schulman, from the Chron, has the scoop on who’s going to start opening day. It’s Barry Zito. This has rubbed a good bit of Giants fans the wrong way. The kicker though, is Bochy’s quote about just why Zito is getting the nod for opening day
“Matt is still young. He’ll be an Opening Day pitcher,” Bochy said. “This year, we just felt Zito should have that start. I think as much as anything this is something he earned with the way he pitched at the end of last season. Barry, he’s accustomed to it. It makes sense to send him out there Opening Day.”
Nevermind that Cain pitched even better than Zito over the last part of the seasons. Cain’s last two months of the year were dominant. His K% and BB% especially were outstanding. I’m not going to get bent out of shape over Cain not starting, but for a team that’s supposed to be all about letting the young guys do their thing this year, why not at least reward Cain for his hard fought ’07? Zito was OK in the 2nd half but let me remind you of how bad he was in the 1st — ERA of 4.90 — and let me remind you again of where Zito ranked in the universe of Giants starters in ’07.
Cnt Player ERA+ 1 Matt Cain 122 2 Noah Lowry 113 3 Tim Lincecum 111 4 Matt Morris 102 5 Barry Zito 98
/shakes fist at Bochy.
- A little speculation from Detroit. Brandon Inge still isn’t happy about losing his starting job to Miggy Cabs. Jim Leyland was quoted as saying:
“I think it’s a strong possibility (Inge will get traded),” added Leyland, “but I want to wait for him to be here when I discuss it. That’s only fair to him. But until something happens he’s on the ballclub.”
If Inge continues to stir the pot, Detroit will try and look to move him. From 2004-2006 Inge was around league average as a hitter — EqA’s of .270, .260, and .255 — while playing sterling defense. From 2005-2007 his defense at third base was ranked only behind Pedro Feliz by the Fielding Bible. Inge’s score of +61 is really very good and proves that he’s a above average defender at third by a good margin. He struggled at the plate in ’07, hitting only (.236/.312/.376) which was good for an EqA of .238. He didn’t carry his offensive struggles with him into the field, as he was still a very good defender according to this years Fielding Bible (+22 which was 2nd best in all of baseball for third base).
A couple of projection systems for Inge in 2008.
PECOTA – .245/.316/.407
ZiPS – .246/.319/.400
Bill James – .240/.311/.394
Marcel – .249/.318/.411
CHONE – .249/.323/.405
They mostly all seem to land around the same area for Inge.
Inge is signed through 2010 for about $6M a season. I think if he is still available the Giants might take a good look at him. Mind you I wouldn’t trade anything of value for him but maybe if the Giants took on the salary and sent back a C+ prospect, maybe the Tigers would do the deal? It could also be a good thing if Sabean is dead-set on trying to bring in Crede, as it could take some of the leverage away from the White Sox in a future Crede deal because the Giants would have at least more than one option on the trade market, other than Crede. I’m slightly more keen on Inge than I am Crede, but that’s not saying a whole lot.
For now, I’m just thankful the baseball is gearing up again, no matter how terrible the Giants look right now — and they do look terrible — it’s good to know baseball is just around the bend once more.