Hooray, baseball is back. Well, sorta back. Here’s my annual don’t-worry-too-much-about-Spring-Training post.
Yesterday Giants pitchers and catchers (and a few position players, too) found their way down to Arizona for the start of Spring Training. Today is first the official day when pitchers and catchers start working out. On February 23rd the rest of the roster should start trickling in (this article notes that 24 of the 40 players on the 40-man are already in camp) with March 2nd being the mandatory reporting date for anyone not in camp yet.
Some news from the early stages of ST:
~ Aaron Rowand reported to camp about 10lbs lighter according to Andrew Baggarly. Rowand reports his weight loss due to some cycling he did over the offseason and he expects to be quicker and stronger for the 2010 season. Offensively, Rowand has been pretty much the same player in his first 2 years with the Giants, posting wRC+’s of 97 and 96 in each season. Spring Training is the time for optimism, but don’t buy too much into these stories. Everyone is in the best shape of their life, better, stronger, faster, learned a new pitch, fixed a mechanical batting flaw, etc. But players usually play like they always have.
~ Unlike Rowand, Jonathan Sanchez has packed on about 12lbs in an effort to throw harder. Hmm, I’m not sure more weight = more velocity, but if Sanchez can build off of his 2009 season, the Giants would be very pleased.
~ Freddy Sanchez states that he’s ahead of his rehab schedule but still isn’t sure when he’ll have his full range of motion back. He should be able to resume baseball activities within the next couple of weeks. For now, Juan Uribe should be in the lead for the 2B job, but the Giants could always shift DeRosa over to 2B and then move someone like John Bowker into LF. In other injury news, Travis Ishikawa is hurting from 2 torn ligaments in his left foot. He’s wearing a boot right now. Surgery is a possibility if the ligaments don’t heal. If Ishikawa goes under the knife, he could be out for up to 3 months.
~ Todd Wellemeyer is in competition with Madison Bumgarner for the 5th starter’s spot. This contradicts what the team initially said about Wellemeyer when he was signed, calling him a long reliever, but I think most expected Wellemeyer would get his chance in ST. We talked about Wellemeyer, here. He’s not very good, but he should give Bumgarner a chance to work on his secondary pitchers and/or stamina in AAA before the Giants call him up. The other benefit of Wellemeyer is that he’ll keep Bumgarner’s service time in check. Hopefully the Giants will also look at Joe Martinez or Kevin Pucetas as other possible options — both could pitch better than Wellemeyer in the full season and it’s well known that I’m somewhat of a Martinez fan.
And a quick word on Spring Training statistics: don’t worry about them. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs has a nice article on the topic of ST stats. They just aren’t predictive of anything. Things get muddy when you consider parks, sample size, level of competition, and yes, even effort.
For fun, here’s the top Giants hitters last spring by OPS sorted by 50 at-bats.
Name OPS J. Guzman 1.366 P. Sandoval 1.168 A. Torres 1.077 F. Lewis 1.028 R. Aurilia 0.989 T. Ishikawa 0.929 E. Burriss 0.855 E. Velez 0.852 J. Uribe 0.734 K. Frandsen 0.717 B. Molina 0.693 J. Bowker 0.669 R. Winn 0.628 E. Renteria 0.609 A. Rowand 0.595
We all know that Rich Aurilia went on to great success during the 2009 season!