At the Great Giants Fan Symposium in my head, we've all pretty much agreed spring stats are useless. Can't forecast with 'em, can't get excited about 'em, can't use 'em. At the desk where I do most of my writing, I've displayed a special-ordered plaque. It's a nice mahogany deal, with a black florentine border accenting the bronze engraving. It reads: "Spring, 2003: Neifi Perez hit .434 in 53 at-bats." I've also made little rubber bands to wear, reading, "WWNHITS?", short for, "What Would Neifi Hit In the Spring?". When I start to get too excited about Jason Ellison's hot start, I'll just look at the plaque. If I'm not at home, I'll look at the rubber band. Maybe snap it a bit, jolting me back to reality.
I really need to get a CafePress shop going for these things.
Even Brian Dallimore -- official utility player of Waiting for Boof, and now The McCovey Chronicles -- doesn't get a free pass. It's great he's hitting so well in spring, possibly playing his way back on the 40-man roster at some point, but his spring stats still don't mean a thing. Let's just see the guy hit .320 or better in AAA before giving him a utility job.
What? Really? Well, I'd like to see him do it twice.
Oh. You don't say.
With Bonds out for at least a month, there is an actual battle for a roster spot or two. Luckily, the contenders almost all have excellent spring stats, so the team does not need the rubber bands. Ellison has the glove the Giants need for the late innings, and his spring hitting hasn't hurt his case. He's in, leaving the Giants now need to choose between Tony Torcato, Lance Niekro, Adam Shabala, Todd Linden, and Dallimore.
Torcato is out of options, but what team is idly smoking cigarettes, checking their watch, and waiting at the front of the waiver wire for a powerless, impatient, and positionless player? It would be a bold team to choose some random failed prospect from another organization over a player from their own system who they have watched all spring. Torcato's option status might not be as important as is his lefty swing. Dallimore and Shabala would take too much 40-man roster shuffling to realistically make the team, and Linden hasn't hit anything for months. It seems like that last spot is a battle between Torcato and Niekro, with Torcato winning the job because he's out of options, and bats left-handed. The case for Niekro goes pretty deep, though:
- He's not Deivi Cruz.
- Deivi Cruz is taking grounders at first base.
- Cruz is doing that so he can play first against left-handers, even though Cruz doesn't really handle left-handers with any sort of special skill.
- If people stop going to church, there will be a lot of pastors, ministers, and priests out of a job.
- People will stop going to church if Deivi Cruz starts one game at first base.
The difference between Niekro and Cruz might not even be one win. It's the principle of the thing. Bonds gets hurt, and the domino effect leaves a guy starting at first base who was released by the Devil Rays because he couldn't hit enough for a shortstop. Deivi's quick bat is welcome off the bench, but platooning him at first is just too big of a stretch. Considering defense, the Giants would be better off just starting Snow.
Considering everything, the Giants would have been better off if Torcato and Niekro were both hitting .120, and Dallimore was still hitting .500. "WWNHITS?", makes a lot of sense, but sometimes those useless spring stats can make a tough decision easier. Keep up the struggle, Brian. Atticaaaaaa!!!
Now That Bonds is Out, Who Makes the Team?
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