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Niekro and Munter

It's amazing how the optimism of spring can obscure the true nature of logic junkies. Let's sail down the hypothetical river, and wonder what we'd be thinking if:

Noah Lowry pitched three innings, striking out eight.

Todd Linden had three homers, and didn't do an SNL-worthy Benard impression in the outfield.

Armando Benitez struck out the side in an inning of work

All of the above would have been good news. Maybe a thought or two starts to creep around in the old noggin. "Maybe, just maybe, this performance meant more than the typical spring start," we'd think before snapping back to reality. It's March, and that's our right.

But when Lance Niekro takes three walks to start the season, after acknowledging that aspect of his game is exactly what he's going to try and work on, it's time to stop being vaguely optimistic, and time to get silly. Here's what should temper the enthusiasm:

  1. Sample size! Sample size!
  2. Niekro did take some swings in the at-bats he walked. Maybe all it will take to resume hacking is one four-hit game where swings early in the count produce the hits. Goodbye new approach, hello old friend.
  3. Sample size! Sample size!
  4. The idea that 1,500 career at-bats give you more of an indication of how a player will perform than four spring at-bats will. This is also known as "sample size".
To which I respond:
  1. Sit on it, sample size fascist.
  2. Sit on it, sample size fascist.
  3. Sit on it, sample size fascist.
  4. Sit on it, sample size fascist.
Ain't nothin' gonna break a my stride on this spring day. Lance Niekro has turned over a new leaf! Niekro is the answer, and the answer is Niekro! I, for one, welcome our new on-base savvy overlord. Here's a revised prediction for Lance Niekro:

Lance Niekro

AB: 620
AVG: .350
OBP: .490
SLG: .700
HR: 53

Lock him up, Sabes! Buy out those arbitration years before it's too late! DO IT NOW!

pant pant pant pant

Okay. I'm better now. There's nothing better than tying the rubber hose around the arm, and mainlining some spring optimism. In all seriousness, it was nice to hear Niekro talk about being more patient, and it was nice to see him follow up with the plan in the first game. Now do it again, Lance, and everyone can come back in June to see if I really hyperventilate over an on-base conscious Niekro. He doesn't have to be Eddie Yost, but if he could complement a .280 average with a .350 on-base percentage, it would be much easier to feel good about the Giants offense. It's still not likely in the slightest, but fun to dream.

It's Scott Munter's turn on the projection schedule, so let's just get this one down quickly:

Scott Munter

IP: 24
ERA: 4.60
K: 8
BB: 10

I think he starts in Fresno to shake off the rust, and only comes back in case of an injury to another reliever. He'll be better than this, but not right away. This prediction will likely be wrong in terms of innings pitched, because Felipe Alou is in love with the idea of a mythical ground ball machine. I'm not far behind him with that fascination, though, so I hope Munter is at full health and proves me wrong.