The first day of Spring Training should be a national holiday. But then, so should Opening Day, The All-Star Game, and the Fourth of July. Huh? Oh, yeah. Anyway, every time that Tim Lincecum duels Clayton Kershaw, we have fireworks, or rather the fire-hose that dispenses groundouts and long fly balls, that speedy outfielders track down. Because that’s what it’s all about: pitching and defense.
Guess what? Brian Sabean knows this. He is trying to field another contending team, and he is tailoring it to the confines of AT&T Park. In reading the comments from the sfgiants.com site, I see that there is great clamor for the “big bat.” And that is so far off the course of what the Giants team is predicated on. AT&T Park is built for screaming liners that either get past to the wall in Triples Alley, or right down the line, because the opposing right fielder was trying to prevent a triple.
Nate Schierholtz plays right field like Father Aiden, my ninth grade English teacher, played that wide leather strap of his, that he used to bring down on the back side of my hand, as it was palm-down on the desk: enthusiastically and with pin-point precision. Nate can not only cut that screamer off, he can gun the runner out at second base.
And the other Brandon, our shortstop until he loses it to The Riot, Ryan Theriot, is key to strengthening this defensive effort. Brandon Crawford will prevent far more runs from scoring with his glove, than any shortstop could knock in with his bat, so the Giants are already ahead of the game there. I just don’t care what he bats, and neither should you, because when everybody stops worrying about it, so will he.
Sabean went out and acquired Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, a couple of those swift outfielders I was just talking about, and it does not matter which plays center, and which plays left. One will lead off, and the other will probably bat in the five spot, but those are the fine points. The individual components that comprise a contending team are falling into place nicely.
There is a lot of conjecture as to whether Buster Posey can come all the way back. He would have had the best surgeons in the business, working on those ligaments, and he has a lot of heart. Do not underestimate the importance of heart. And Freddie Sanchez has been on course for recovery all winter. I get so tired of Freddie being criticized for being “frail.” If the dude didn’t launch himself through the air like a soccer goalie so much, maybe that wouldn’t be such an issue. And maybe some of those one run victories might become one run losses. It’s all about defense. With Pablo Sandoval at third, and the best of Huff-Belt at first, we are set.
And oh yeah. Our pitching is OK too.
The thing is, getting a proven home run hitter makes no sense, when so many of those long fly balls are run down on the track, more than 400 feet away from home plate. Better to get a guy who can place it in the right spot in AT&T, and then go to the races. With our newly acquired rabbits setting the pace, our offense will improve to the degree that our pitchers can relax, and not have to throw a shut-out each time out, in order to get a victory.