I’ve got about 15 minutes, so let’s see how many topics we can get to here.
Giants-Dodgers – Opening Day at the yard! I can’t remember a home-opener series feeling so important, but this one sure does. The Giants looked good in Milwaukee, but they probably felt like they should have swept that series. Lots of big flies, not enough runners on base cashed in. The Dodgers had their way with the miserable Padres, not allowing a run in 3 games. The first two (Peavy & Cain) in this series are crucial, as they pave the way for Saturday’s Bumgarner/Kershaw dual. Taking 3 out of 4 sure would be nice, but won’t be easy against a confident LA squad.
Minor League Opening Day – Happy Opening Day to all your minors fools like me out there! It’s an exciting day every season, but this year just feels a little different to me. The Giants have added so much talent to their system over the past year or two, and it’s hard to decide which squad I’m most excited for. I didn’t get a chance to preview Richmond or Sacto last week, but I expect good things from both this teams this year. Most people have Arroyo & Beede 1-2 in the organization… how often do your top two prospects get to play on the same roster? It’s not as common as you might think. We saw the kind of talent guys like Mac, Blackburn, Parker, Gorkys Hernandez, etc. have in spring training this year. There’s major depth in Sacramento this season, and I’m excited. Watch out for Hak-Ju Lee too.
MLB Scheduling – It’s a great time to be a baseball fan. There’s young talent all over the place (did you see Noah Syndergaard pumping 92 mph sliders past KC the other night?), and the AL is about as wide open as it’s ever been. But every year at this time, I get a little frustrated with MLB. You have to know your audience. Younger people are trying to get fired up about these guys like Posey, Trout, Harper, Harvey, McCutchen, Correa, etc. So, what’s the deal with starting the majority of the games on a Monday during work hours? And most of the teams who played Sunday, didn’t play Monday. These guys sometimes go 30 days without a day off… you give them one after the first game of the year? I’m nitpicking here, but we’re four games into the season and I’ve barely been able to watch my favorite club because I work a regular 40-hour a week job. There’s got to be a better way!
Cueto/Samardzija – Johnny Cueto sure is fun to watch isn’t he? The best way I can describe him is a dart-thrower. He paints corners, changes speeds, works quick, deceives hitters… it’s a totally new experience for me, and I think it’s awesome. Samardzija struggled a bit in his debut, but he always seemed to limit the damage. Would he like to do better? Yes. Would we like to see him pitch better? Of course. Do I think he’ll give the Giants 6-8 competitive innings most nights this season? Yes, I do.
Matt Duffy – Your team leader in homers after three games. Duffy (and many of the others in the lineup) is a just a joy to watch. Does he push 20 HR this season (sacrificing some average in the process)? Does he hit 10-15 like last year and steal 20 bags? Does he put everything together and go 20-20 with a .300 average? That last one might seem pie-in-the-sky, but the talent is there. You start talking about numbers like that with great defense, and those guys get MVP votes. How many people thought Dustin Pedroia would be an MVP before he won his? Not many. Watch out for Duffy.
Bullpen – Nobody talks about the Giants bullpen, and yet there they were in Milwaukee, getting outs and preserving leads like they’ve done for the past 6 years. One unearned run (the winning run yesterday) in 3 days was all they surrendered. Quietly, I think this group is in for a big season. Did you see Casilla Tuesday night? That does not look like a guy ready to give up his job (the talk of every offseason). Ok, I take back my first claim. People were talking about the Giants pen this year, in regards to their increased velocity. I took it as a “the Giants are finally joining the party” deal, in regards to guys like Osich, Strickland, Broadway, etc. and their big fastballs. I find it ironic, though, that the Giants were given little mention for their bullpen success in any of the 3 title seasons. When Kansas City leaned on its dominant pen last season, the narrative was written, “Royals write new formula for postseason success.” Hey, ask Jeremy Affeldt about that “new” formula…
Thanks for reading everyone. Here’s to a great early season #BEATLA weekend, and good luck to all of the Giants minor league clubs, players, parents, wives, girlfriends, etc. Enjoy the ride!