Fresh on the heels of a rollicking two-game winning streak, you might expect me to wax rhapsodic about Tim Lincecum. It would make sense. The upcoming 2008 amateur draft is said to have four elite players – Aaron Crow, Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez, and Brian Matusz – and, of course, the Giants pick fifth. There’s a strong temptation to complain about the Giants getting jobbed, but it’s worth remembering that there were nine players picked before Lincecum. Nine. It’s not as if Tampa is ticked off that they drafted Evan Longoria, but, still. Nine players were picked before Lincecum. That’s enough draft luck for a few years.
No, now’s the perfect time to wax rhapsodic about John Bowker, who’s struggling a little bit. Now that we aren’t penciling him in for 50 homers and a Fred Lynn-style ROY/MVP twofer, it’s easier to give a realistic assessment.
Short term: His growing pains will probably continue for a little bit, if not the rest of the year. It seems like he’s struggling with pitch recognition, though I’m not sure if that’s a) because he’s prone to guessing, b) he needs time to get used to the pitchers around the league, or c) he’ll always have Benardian difficulties with certain pitches. Put me down for b. – there’s only so much you can do when you see pitchers like Greg Maddux and Trevor Hoffman for the first time. You don’t see too many craftypantses like those two in AA. It will be a long period of adjustment while he learns the league.
Long term: Good gravy, do I love that swing. It generates power, but at the same time, it’s short and direct. I’m no scout, but now I get why the Giants were promoting him regardless of his A-ball results. He just crushes pitches in the strike zone.
The trial at first is going well, which is fantastic news. The Giants have a quasi-logjam in the outfield, but nothing interesting at first base above A-ball. Bowker might struggle, but if shows flashes of power and an ability to stick at first, that means the Giants can focus on their future at third, short, or behind the plate when making any deadline deals. In a season of curious roster and lineup moves, the Giants deserve all the credit in the world for trying Bowker at first so quickly. Of course, if he started 0-for-15, they wouldn’t have bothered, but it was still impressive that the decision was might within a week of Bowker’s hot start.
John Bowker: I’m on board. Like Eugenio Velez and Fred Lewis, I don’t care if he struggles for extended periods this season. He’s one more interesting young player to make a down season that much more enjoyable. The comments related to this post are reserved for the praise of John Bowker.