"The spring training invites are here! The spring training invites are here!" kind of reminded me of, "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!" Yes, that makes us all jerks, but who can blame us for sucking the last bit of nutrition from a January morsel of news?
The name receiving the most press is Jamey Wright. That's understandable, as Wright has the most major league experience of the bunch. Wright should be a league-average pitcher, subtly helping his team in the standings. This might be the move that pushes the team to the playoffs, even if we aren't aware of it happening at the time. It's not the flashi...
Oops. That was the intro for the piece on my Fresno Grizzlies blog, DamonMinorChronicles. As far as the Giants are concerned, Wright isn't really an upgrade on fill-ins like Brian Cooper or Matt Kinney, but he's one more to add to the pile. And when you're talking about live armed/piffly result guys like Kinney and Wright, it can't hurt to haul a bunch of them in, hoping that one starts to see through the matrix.
As a fifth starter, Wright is hardly preferable to Brad Hennessey. But he isn't a guaranteed contract, either, which was the biggest problem with entertaining someone like Shawn Estes. If Estes came in with a seven-figure contract, he'd have to work pretty hard to pitch himself out of the rotation. Wright isn't even the favorite for a roster spot, and will have to pitch his way on the roster. I don't think he'll be the fifth starter, and if it came down to a choice between Kinney and Wright on the AAA roster, I'd go with Kinney. Wright just hasn't shown anything to get excited about since 1999, and his lack of control would be painful to watch. As another buffer between Kevin Correia and the world, though, I'll take him.
Matt Anderson used to exist only as the Keyser Soze of the draft; a spook story to warn teams about drafting relievers in the first round. Chad Cordero and Huston Street have taken the sting out of that particular dogma, but Anderson will never live down being the first overall pick in a deep first round. He had early success, but his control was too abysmal to overcome. The sad thing is it seemed like he turned a corner in 2001, at least with respect to his control, but was injured in 2002 and the progress didn't hold. He consistently strikes out close to a batter an inning at every level he pitches. Throw him in front of a typewriter with the rest of the reclamation projects, and see if one of them can bang out Hamlet.
Michael Tejera used to be an exciting prospect. When he was 22 in AA, he went 13-4, with a 2.62 ERA, and a K/BB of 152/45 in 154 innings. He broke into the majors as a swingman, and now seems to have the scarlet "L" on him for lefty specialist. It's a little arrogant to start second-guessing organizations on the treatment of a pitcher you have barely seen pitch, but that's never stopped me before. With most of his success coming as a starter, it's amazing he has never stuck in a starting role. If I had to guess, his 5-9 frame has a lot to do with that. He has a great chance to grow up to be Chad Zerbe, and has a small potential for Eryedom.
Pedro Liriano is the youngest of the bunch, but his 8 K/9 could indicate a good arm. Tomas De La Rosa is a backup shortstop whose name translates to "Maybe next year, angel". Neither is super thrilling, but they bring depth this organization really didn't have a week ago.
My favorite spring training invitation was the one extended to Abraham Nunez, who used to be one of the better outfield prospects in the game.
Whose star started to fade
When he hit just as fine
As his low minors line
But revealed an extra three years in age
Just like last year's batch, I love the group of minor-league contracts this year. Even though Brandon Puffer, Brandon Villafuerte, and Matt Kinney didn't help much, they were good attempts. A good drinking game for baseball nerds:
- Take turns naming a reliever who came out of nowhere to have success for a season or more. (e.g. "Giovanni Carrera!" "John Johnstone!")
- Drink if you take more than three seconds to come up with a name.
- Continue doing this for a few hours.