Right now, several San Francisco Giants fans are acting like a perfectionist who worked like crazy to buy the luxury car he’d always wanted a couple years ago. He had gone from driving a Mazda 323 to a Ford Bronco II, then up to a Toyota Avalon, and now he drives a 2010 BMW 5-series. And he’ll be damned if that car is going to get scratched up, to the point where he’s still parking his car at least 50 feet from any other car in the lot (and curses to himself during those times when after parking so far away, someone deigns to park next to him anyway).
The car looked flawless last year, and he got compliments galore. Now any door ding or wayward bird dropping could ruin everything.
Like this guy, Giants fans need to relax. There’s nothing wrong with remembering and appreciating the World Championship while quietly let your selfish side bathe in the idea of a repeat. But there’s no need to obsess over Spring Training problems like these…
1. The Rotation (Lincecum/Sanchez/Cain/Zito/Bumgarner)
Some people are upset that Jonathan Sanchez is the No. 2 starter, even though it’s the only real solution. Why is Sanchez the logical choice?
– Matt Cain on days after Tim Lincecum really doesn’t make sense. If you have two right-handers and three southpaws, it would be kind of a waste not to space them out — especially in the case of Lincecum and Cain being those right-handers, since their fastballs top out at close to the same speed.
– There might not be anything more overrated in sports than the perceived difference in matchup difficulties faced by 2nd and 3rd starters. With so many teams having different off days and injuries to pitchers, plus the fact that there isn’t a huge difference between No. 2 starters and No. 3 starters on a lot of different teams (does it really matter if Sanchez faces Cliff Lee and Cain faces Roy Oswalt in the grand scheme of things?), worrying about “My No. 2 guy has to face No. 2 guys all year” isn’t worthwhile if you have an option as good as Sanchez.
– Madison Bumgarner hasn’t shown any ill effects after a pretty big increase in workload last season, but why tempt fate with your 21-year-old phenom when you already have a World Series ring in your back pocket?
– If Barry Zito was still the No. 2 starter, after getting left off the playoff roster for three consecutive (successful) series, it would … well, it would be strange. It would also be exactly what the Giants would have done this year had Jonathan Sanchez pitched as poorly as Zito in the final series of the regular season. Kind of blows your mind. What a charmed life the Giants lived in 2010.
– Sanchez will be a free agent in 2013, he’s 28 … isn’t it time to see if he can be a No. 2 starter? He was the best pitcher in the game for the last month of the 2010 regular season, after a strange couple weeks where he pitched terribly, guaranteed a win over the Padres, didn’t beat the Padres and then gave up 11 ER and struck out 61 in his last 42 innings. He also walked 26, but his stuff is so oddly unhittable that he doesn’t need Lee’s control to throw 8 shutout innings. He started getting cocky late last year, and for the most part backed it up. It’s time to stop acting like he’s some sort of sensitive mental case, or that he isn’t good just because he wasn’t as consistently incredible as Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner in the playoffs.
2. Any performance from a starting pitcher in a spring training game
Lincecum gave up multiple base-hits! Zito couldn’t throw strikes! Jeff Suppan was perfect for three innings, it’s career resurgence time!
Spring Training has value because we all miss baseball and warm weather, good prospects get to play on the same field with veterans, and we all miss baseball and warm weather. Beyond injuries, Spring Training carries little relevance, which brings us to…
3. Brian Wilson’s back
Charlie Sheen has spent the past two weeks doing a Brian Wilson impression, and only the people who follow Brian Wilson’s act have any idea. As long as Wilson doesn’t start impersonating Sheen’s diet (cocaine, vodka and DNA), he’ll be fine. If his back hurts that bad, he can take a few weeks off. Or get a few massages (real ones, not the ones he received in Thailand).
4. Aaron Rowand vs. Andres Torres
The Giants not naming a starter in CF isn’t Bruce Bochy reverting back to the vet-lover everyone complained about until mid-September, 2010. It’s about the Brian Sabean not showing his hand, doing everything he can to keep a player’s trade value above zero.
You’d think after Andres Torres led the team in doubles, triples and stolen bases, provided the only real speed in the lineup and played three times better defense than Rowand in center, it wouldn’t be a question. Especially after Torres won the Willie Mac Award and might have finished in the top 10 in MVP voting if he hadn’t had an appendectomy. The Giants are just hoping beyond hope that some team desperate for a living, breathing outfielder will give up a Double-A prospect or two and take on some of Rowand’s remaining salary. He isn’t the starter in CF unless Torres’ abdominal tightness becomes an issue.
5. The Giants won’t bring Belt with them to San Francisco
The guy is already raking, but what’s the harm in letting him hang out in Fresno for a while? Rookies already face a nerve-wracking experience when they’re called up for the first time (any time, really). Add Opening Day to the mix, and the pressure gets even more intense. Then add an opening week where the rookie has to watch a bunch of World Champions collect rings and relive glory days he wasn’t a part of, and it’s almost impossible to expect Belt to start off like Pablo Sandoval did back in 2008, or Posey in the middle of last year (Which wasn’t his actual debut, but close enough).
If the Giants need the guy, they’ll call him up regardless of service time. But these are the defending champions. Let them bask, and when they realize the World Series afterglow is over and lethargy starts seeping in, bring Belt in to wake everyone up. Consider it a future tuneup on the luxury sedan, one the Giants can push out until May or June.
(Update: Crap, when I was looking for an article I read yesterday about the link between Charlie Sheen’s recent behavior and his burgeoning friendship with Brian Wilson, I see that the great McCovey Chronicles already wrote “Five Things I’m absolutely not worried about as Spring Training begins,” four days ago, which I missed because I was flying to L.A. and stayed away from blogland all weekend. However, I didn’t find out that Grant from McC wrote this until I was 99% finished with this post. And since we’re talking about completely different things not to fret over besides the Wilson angle, I went ahead and ran this (duh, you just read it). Hopefully I won’t get kicked out of SB Nation for this … speaking of SBN, check out today’s column on SB Nation Bay Area, where I talk about Warriors fans and if they leave early! That’s right, I’ve been putting my heart and soul into SB Nation. THEY OWE ME.)