Issue: Six men, four spotsAnalysis: Giants manager Bruce Bochy managed to make the outfield/first-base situation more confusing Tuesday night, and that seemed almost impossible to do given the swirling stats and implications thereof with which we’ve been confounded all spring.How did Bochy do it? Well, to start with, he suggested that he might go with nonroster, minor-league invitee, journeyman, no-name sensation Gregor Blanco as his leadoff man to take pressure off struggling Angel Pagan and move him down in the batting order. Read More
Issue: ExpectationsAnalysis: Time for a reality check, although it’s probably not all that necessary: The A’s aren’t going to be very good this year. Nothing against Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon, who pitched extremely well in Japan, but if they’re your 1-2 punch atop the rotation in a division that features powerhouse lineups anchored by Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, you’re looking not at contention, but at a battle for .500 at best. Read More
The annual preseason Battle of the Bay starts tonight at AT&T Park, and while in reality it’s merely the final dress rehearsal for the start of the regular season for both teams, it’s more the end of the annual age of innocence and the last chance to enjoy big-league baseball in its most pure form.
And don’t give me that “We already started the regular season” nonsense, A’s fans. The standings might say that, but nobody else does. The two-game series last week at the Tokyo Dome should have been called the “Sham in Japan.” Read More
Spring training stats don’t matter. Until they do. Make sense? Of course not. It’s not supposed to.
That’s the point.
Oddly enough, there is no point.
Still confused? Me too. And I’ve been covering spring training since well before 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” was a hit.
Take the Giants, for instance. Hector Sanchez’s great spring stats probably won’t matter when it comes to the team naming a backup catcher. Why? Because the team went to camp wanting the job to go to one of their more experienced backstops, Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart. Read More
As fun as it was to knock the Manny Ramirez story around before and after the A’s surprised much of the baseball world by bringing in one of the game’s most polarizing players, Ramirez is more likely to be little more than a sideshow in 2012. Read More
The standing ovation that rolled like a wave down the right-field line at Scottsdale Stadium, following Buster Posey as he strolled toward the bullpen for a quick warmup session in mid-March, said it all.Where Buster goes, goes the excitement. The hope. The unbridled optimism. In fact, here’s the bottom line: Where Buster goes, go the Giants.That’s a lot of pressure on one man. Especially a 25-year-old man who has yet to play an entire big-league season from start to finish. A man yet to make an All-Star team, even. Read More
Issue: Matt Cain’s contract
Analysis: It’s not at all uncommon for players to say they want an unresolved contract issue to be wrapped up prior to the start of the regular season. For that stance, Cain can’t be blamed.
Let’s not overreact, though, if the Giants don’t get something done by the time camp breaks. Read More
Issue: Speed at the top
Analysis: It’s nice that the A’s, who clearly lack the type of power with which you typically associate American League success, have enough burners to stack the top of their batting order with players who, in theory, can help negate that lack by flooding the bases and putting a different brand of pressure on pitchers. Read More
With Freddy Sanchez likely out for Opening Day, Sergio Romo’s elbow barking, the backs of Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and Aubrey Huff a bit balky, and Nate Schierholtz and Emmanuel Burriss among those nursing nagging injuries of their own, health is already a legitimate concern for the Giants with less than two weeks left in the Arizona-based portion of their preparation for the regular season.
For a team that doesn’t exactly boast luxurious depth, it has to be more uncomfortable than manager Bruce Bochy is letting on. Read More
Issue: Sergio Romo’s elbow
Analysis: This is not good, folks. It’s awful. Any concern for Romo’s long-term health should be every bit as intense as the concern shown for that of Brian Wilson when the closer’s wing was whacked out. Read More
Issue: Hot-corner conundrum
Analysis: Projected starting third baseman Scott Sizemore’s early spring injury caught the A’s with their pants down in a huge way.
Never mind that Sizemore wasn’t exactly a lock to stud out, but for the first alternative to be a recently converted catcher — Josh Donaldson — has to raise an eyebrow in relation to the 10 players that Oakland got in its flurry of offseason trades that sent three All-Star pitchers packing. Read More
At long last, and not a moment too soon, the blind loyalty that Warriors fans have shown the NBA’s longest-running joke of a franchise is being rewarded instead of being used as a means to an annually fruitless and frustrating but profitable end. Read More
Issue: Freddy Sanchez and Opening Day.
Analysis: In short, don’t hold your breath.
And if that surprises you, you haven’t been paying very close attention. Not only has Sanchez been slow to heal from his myriad injuries since climbing aboard the Good Ship Orange and Black, but it’s March 15 and he hasn’t yet played defense in a Cactus League game.
He debuted as a DH on Friday, and when I spoke to him he insisted that his workouts are going well, that his shoulder is coming along just fine, etc., etc. Read More
Issue: Is Yoenis Cespedes ready?
Analysis: Oh, good lord, yes. If this guy spends a day in the minor leagues, the A’s are nuts.
I can say this because I returned Tuesday from a six-day trip to the desert, and I made a point to observe and learn as much about Cespedes as possible (while giving equal time to taking in all things Giants). Read More
Let’s call it Territory Purgatory. The A’s are in it; Bud Selig’s “blue-ribbon panel” has kept them in it for more than three years now; and with an emphatic victory this week in a fairly comical battle of press releases, the Giants made it clear that they’re rather enjoying — and are perfectly willing, able and expertly equipped to help extend — it.Give the A’s some credit for at least coming out with some information on the urban legend about late owner Walter Haas Jr. giving the Giants the rights to South Bay rights at issue way back when. Read More