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I have the fear.

It's Pedro Feliz's turn in the projection rotation, but it's probably more important to address the news in this diary. Mainly, Felipe Alou claiming Jose Vizcaino is the backup plan, should something go awry with Lance Niekro. Gadzooks, my blood turns into a plasma slushie just by typing that. Brrrr.

There's no sense spending a lot of energy railing against a decision that hasn't been made yet, but the mere mention of the idea is egregious. Maybe Alou was just spitting out words without thinking. He might not even remember too much about Vizcaino, but will realize after two spring at-bats how silly a thought it would be to have him start anywhere. This isn't DEFCON 1; this is the leaders of two nuclear powers telling increasingly offensive jokes about the other's mom. Sure, it can escalate quickly, but we're a long way from that.

Thoughts about the quote:

  1. Niekro has potential, but hasn't been able to string together a whole lot of minor league at-bats due to injury. Due to injury? Due to injury! The guy has a history of being fragile! DEFCON 4! DEFCON 4!
  2. Sweeney wasn't brought in to be a platoon mate. Okay, whatever, at least he's there when things go wrong. I don't really have a problem testing the waters with Niekro against righties, even if it's just to confirm something we suspect is true. That something is the idea that Niekro hits right-handed pitching as if he were swinging a live narwhal instead of a bat, had three dead narwhals duct taped to his upper torso, and had both of his eyes gouged out by a narwhal in a deep sea bar fight. We pretty much have an educated guess that's the case, but he's young enough to give it one last shot.
  3. Now I don't want to be one of those ninnies that quote their own archives, but, well, you know, it's cool when I do it. On the day before the Giants signed Vizcaino, I wrote:
    When it comes to guys like Sanchez, Clayton, and Vizcaino, I would much rather have Chavez. Felipe Alou would be much less inclined to work Chavez into any given lineup. There is a fear that Alou would see the name of a Clayton-type on the roster, set the mental wayback machine to 1996, and actually start the wretches once a week.
    If I'm managing the team, I'd choose Vizcaino over Angel Chavez. While the whole veteran stability thing is way overblown, it isn't without a kernel of truth. They both can't hit, but Vizcaino's experience would be enough to give him the nod. If someone drinking the veteran stability-flavored Gatorade is running the team, it's best to keep guys like Vizcaino far, far, far away.
  4. Pedro Feliz had a really impressive defensive year at third base in 2005, both by statistical measures and anecdotal evidence. So if Niekro struggles, you take Feliz and diminish his limited value by plugging him in at first? For what? To get Jose Vizcaino at-bats over Mark Sweeney? Get out of here. That kind of managing would burn down your Apple II+ if you tried it in MicroLeague Baseball. Rushing Eddy Martinez-Esteve and his wonky first base glove would be preferable to that nightmare, but finding roster space for the Mayor of Norwich would make more sense. There aren't any great ideas if Niekro goes down, but there are better ideas than starting Vizcaino at third.
It's not panic time, not even close. But if there were ever an offhand comment relayed to me secondhand to work me up, that was it. With the farm system bereft of middle infielders close to the major leagues, signing a codger like Vizcaino was a necessary evil. Giving him more at-bats than the bare minimum is completely avoidable, and the goal of Felipe shouldn't be to find at-bats for Vizcaino.