Chad Gaudin has not embarrassed himself so far this spring. That means he has a great chance of being that guy. He is destined to be that guy. He seemed like the perfect that guy the second the signing was announced.
So let's define "that guy." That guy is basically Guillermo Mota, who is a) a often-bad-yet-durable reliever, b) with a lot of frequent-flyer miles, c) who rarely sees high-leverage situations. That guy usually has pitches that move all over the place, which almost tricks you into thinking he's good, and he usually has a healthy total of games finished because the manager doesn't want to waste another pitcher on a game that isn't really in doubt. But he also comes into a lot of fourth innings to mop up. That guy isn't exactly the worst pitcher in baseball, but you won't defend his honor if he's labeled as such by a drunk in the stands. He's just … that guy.
A history of those guys since I've been a hardcore fan:
1996: Rich DeLucia
1997: Joe Roa
1998: Julian Tavarez
1999: Felix Rodriguez
2000: Aaron Fultz
2001: Chad Zerbe
2002: Aaron Fultz
2003: Chad Zerbe
2004: Wayne Franklin
2005: Scott Munter
2006: Vinnie Chulk
2007: Randy Messenger
2008: Keiichi Yabu
2009: Justin Miller
2010: Guillermo Mota
2011: Guillermo Mota
2012: Clay Hensley
I picture Chad Zerbe and Aaron Fultz lifting weights at the same time, and silently glaring at each other across the room. If they didn't hate each other before they eventually teamed up to fight crime, then Hollywood lied to me about how rival co-workers interact. Other than those two, Felix Rodriguez is the only one who didn't float in and out of the picture like a dandelion spore.
Gaudin is the favorite now for the last spot in the bullpen, in my estimation. He made a spot start when Lincecum was scratched on Thursday, and he pitched three scoreless innings. Bochy was impressed:
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday if all things considered are even, he'd prefer taking a reliever who could provide the team with multiple innings or a spot start if needed.
"That's what we're all looking at ideally," Bochy said. "We haven't had that before and we've gotten away with it, but that's our preference."
Wait, "haven't had that before?" Most of those guys were multiple-inning types. At least, they should have been if the Giants needed them to be, because there weren't too many other ways to extract value out of them before they jumped off the team bus and ran into the forest, never to be seen again. The only thing blocking Gaudin's path to that-guydom is Scott Proctor, who would also make an excellent that guy. When it comes to a preference, though, the Giants will certainly look at spring performance. As a tiebreaker, a team could do worse.
Heath Hembree has been hit hard this spring, and he was kind of a fringe candidate to begin with. Ramon Ramirez has the benefit of familiarity, but he hasn't looked good at all, and he's coming off a mediocre year. Jean Machi and Sandy Rosario are on the 40-man roster already, which gives them an advantage over guys like Shane Loux and Mitch Lively, but the Giants have a roster spot to play with after the Conor Gillaspie trade, so they're a little flexible.
There are still almost two weeks, but I'll be shocked if it isn't Gaudin. Updated last-spot(s) power rankings:
1. Chad Gaudin
2. Dan Runzler (if Mijares misses the start of the season)
3. Ramon Ramirez
4. Scott Proctor
5. Jean Machi
6. Shane Loux