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State of the Mando

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, which is always fantastic news. The annual ceremony was held, where they pull Armando Benitez out of a burrow and check to see if his shadow is anywhere near the Giants' spring training facility. If they see it, that's supposed to mean six more months of bullpen suck.

Henry Schulman starts off a recent State of the Mando article with this:

Armando Benitez spent his Valentine's Day caressing a training table...
I know Schulman intentionally chose his verb to fit with the Valentine's Day theme, but that still doesn't make the image fit for any member of a decent society. It's just too easy to fill in the rest of the images. Armando and the training table on a picnic, Armando and the training table watching Dreamgirls in a dark theatre, Armando trying to figure out how to undo the training table cushion's all a slippery slope to hell.

I've given up trying to forecast bullpens, as evidenced by my lack of effort in all things relief for the NL West preview posts. It just makes a person look too stupid when they attempt to predict how effective a bullpen is going to be. Brendan Donnelly came out of the same mist as Manny Aybar, but only one became a dominant reliever. We could look up in August and have Mitch Wylie leading the team in saves. We could look up in August and see every reliever who didn't enter the season with major league experience in the middle of a 5.00 ERA season.

Even with that concession, there is a whole bunch to be said about past results. With Benitez, it just isn't clear which past results to go with. Should we hope for the Benitez that hadn't really ever had a bad season before he came to the Giants? Or is the mopey tub of save-blowing goo from the past two years who we should expect? I've constantly defended Benitez - this post, for example, didn't exactly hold up well - but eventually gave up on him last season. When the Marlins were offering nude photos of Wayne Huizenga for Benitez and several million dollars, I was hoping the Giants would jump on the offer.

The spring optimism has gotten to me, though, and I'm all for giving Benitez one more chance. In the Chronicle article, Brian Sabean says the right things regarding Benitez:

Asked Wednesday if he could imagine Benitez remaining a Giant if he were not the closer, Sabean said, "That's a good question. You'd have to ask him that. If you're asking me, I don't personally think so."

Benitez will not be handed the job."He's going to have to do it. Obviously in spring training, we give the veterans, including the closer, the benefit of the doubt over younger players, but we're going to want to see more overall, and hopefully the pitcher we saw in Florida, (which was) the reason we signed him."

That's exactly right. Give him the rope in March, and see what he does with it. Because the only thing worse than paying Benitez millions of dollars to suck would be to pay him millions of dollars to do well for another team. For some strange reason, I'm not that worried about the bullpen with or without Benitez, but asking for one good year of the three isn't too greedy.

Comment starter: Done with Benitez? One more shot? Cast him in a remake of Disorderlies? What to do, what to do?