Decisions, Decisions

There will be plenty to talk about, as we get closer to the Giants leaving (Thursday) and returning to Arizona (Monday). So I’ll try to keep this one short, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts and do a little weekend roundup.

First, the big news: Tony Abreu is out, put on release waivers. The Giants had to eat a quarter of his salary, or something like that. Big whoop. I did have some hope for Abreu. When you look at his minor league pedigree, you see a guy who could be an asset at 2B from an offensive standpoint. But the guy just isn’t consistently healthy or productive. That seems to have plagued him his whole career. Regardless, Adrianza definitely looks to have the inside track for the primary reserve IF spot now.

I imagine will see two more roster moves before game-time tomorrow. The first will be Scutaro to the DL. If the Giants hold true to their word, then this weekend was supposed to determine Scooter’s fate. Well, I didn’t see him out there, unless he was hiding. The second move should be Brandon Hicks on the 40-man. With Abreu off, that’s an easy switch. We’ve talked about this already, but Hicks should be the guy to grab the extra roster spot if Scutaro is DL’d. Then it’ll be a 3-way battle for playing time between Arias, Adrianza and Hicks at 2B as the regular season gets going. Maybe there’s a trade in the works to patch things up? I doubt it.

The other big decision resides within Bruce Bochy’s bullpen. Heath Hembree is out, while Derek Law is technically still in. If you listened to Bochy during his in-game interview with Kruk & Kuip on Friday night, it sounded pretty clear that the coaching staff wants to carry guys who can go multiple innings in relief, at least to start the season. That bodes very well for Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff, who are both out of options, and both happened to pitch lights-out on Friday.

Speaking of lights, I don’t know if anyone else caught that tweet from one of the beat writers Friday night against Oakland. It was something to the extent that the lighting in Scottsdale was less than ideal. It was pretty apparent to me that the hitters weren’t picking up the ball well at all (on either side). When Petit blew an 88 mph fastball by Yoenis Cespedes, it was all the proof I needed. I’m not trying to make any bold statement here, but it’s just another reason why you have to take spring training stats with a grain of salt. Both Petit and Huff helped their causes that night, regardless of the circumstances.

So, it would seem that there’s really only one bullpen spot up for grabs with a week to go until the season starts. As it stands, the Giants will likely open up with the core four of Romo, Casilla, Affeldt and Lopez, plus the righty-lefty swing combo of Petit and Huff, who should actually add some versatility in April. If both guys pitch well, that’s great. But both are out of options, so keeping them both on the 25-man initially seems like kind of an extended tryout to me. Maybe they give it a few weeks, and if one is floundering they can let him go in favor of a guy like Hembree.

Who gets that final bullpen spot then? I would guess Jean Machi, but George Kontos, Dan Runzler and Law are technically still in the running. Personally, I’d go with Law. Get a little funky youth in there! If not, we’re looking at a big time veteran bullpen, but I think that will be ironed out as the year goes along.

I’ve gotten a little long-winded again. Let’s wrap it up. Lots more to talk about this week, as I said. I’ll try to get to the Pablo talk, as well as a little pre-season prediction nonsense. I don’t know about all of you good people, but I’m sure ready for Opening Day. Tried to watch a couple innings of the Australia game last night, then thought better of it. But hey, at least the regular season is underway!

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Updated Camp Battles (Part 2): Long Reliever

Updated Camp Battles (Part 2): Long Reliever

This might be the most wide-open battle in camp at the moment. With the front runners struggling early, a couple of dark horse candidates have emerged as real threats to win the long-man spot.

Yusmeiro Petit:  12.60 ERA, 5 IP, 14 H, 1 BB, 2 K | Odds: 60% (80% pre-spring) | Trending: Down

Outlook: Petit had a job to lose this spring, and so far he’s heading that way. While it’s a very small sample size, he’s been very hittable in almost all of his outings. There’s still time to iron out the wrinkles, but I don’t think he’s guaranteed the spot by any means unless he shows some improvement.

David Huff: 9.00 ERA, 1 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K | Odds: 50% (40% pre-spring) | Trending: Stable

Outlook: His odds of making the team have risen, but that’s more an effect of Petit’s struggles than Huff’s performance. The lefty made his spring debut over the weekend, and looked a little rusty after missing some time to shoulder stiffness. He’s nothing spectacular, but the Giants like his versatility. He’s definitely in the running for this spot if he can show some consistency in the next few weeks.

Edwin Escobar: 1.50 ERA, 6 IP, 1 H, 5 BB, 1 K |Odds: 40% (N/A) | Trending: Up

Outlook: Ideally, the Giants would like Escobar to start the season in AAA, a stop he’s never experienced before. That’s probably still his likely destination, but Esky isn’t going away without a fight. He stepped up big in his start against Clayton Kershaw last weekend, working through some control issues and only allowing one run over 3 IP. I didn’t even include him in my pre-spring battles series, as I honestly didn’t think he was in the running for this spot. He’s definitely in the mix now.

Jose De Paula: 0.00 ERA, 4 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K | Odds: N/A (25% pre-spring) | Trending: Up

**Update: Assigned to minor league camp.

Outlook: Offseason waiver claim wasn’t really even in consideration for the long-man spot when camp opened (I had him in the bullpen group as a lefty specialist). Four appearances later, De Paula’s got some folks talking about him. He features a 92-94 fastball from the left side, as well as a hard breaking ball and a nice changeup. In the outing that I watched, he was filthy for two innings. Lefties are very valuable out of the bullpen, so watch out for this guy going forward.

Jason Berken: 4.50 ERA, 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K | Odds: N/A (N/A) | Trending: Stable

**Assigned to minor league camp.

Outlook: Another guy who wasn’t really in the mix when camp broke. He’s not flashy, but Berken has MLB experience, and was solid in 3 IP against LA over the weekend. Like I said, this spot is wide open at the moment right now, and stranger things have happened. Don’t forget about him.

Mike Kickham: No stats | Odds: N/A (25% pre-spring) | Trending: Down

**Assigned to minor league camp.

Kickham hasn’t appeared in any Cactus League games yet, although I think he’s pitched an inning or two in “B” games. I don’t recall what injury had been holding him back, but I’m curious to see what his stuff looks like this spring. Sounds like he throws a cutter now, but you can’t win a job from the bench, so he needs to get going.

2014 sf giants, spring training, photo

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