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The Pitchers in the Glass Case

Allow me to lead off with two things from last season.


Industry secret: rotations aren’t supposed to have depth. If you have seven capable, above-average major league starters, you’re a drunken goof if you don’t trade one or two of them for something you actually need. Every team is hosed if their top pitchers go down. The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright, and it’s not like Yu Darvish is going to come out of the locker room, WWF-style.

The Giants did as much as they could. They got a warm body who probably isn’t going to go to Fresno (Jeff Suppan) and a warm body who probably will (Brian Lawrence). It’d be sweet if Zach Wheeler were two years farther along in his development, but them’s the breaks.

The Rays are acting like drunken goofs. It wasn't Suppan or Lawrence, but rather Vogelsong in the conservatory with a new shoulder. And teams still aren't supposed to have rotation depth. Zito is the fifth starter, and Eric Surkamp is the contingency plan. I'm fine with that. It's a good thing the Giants never traded Zach Wheeler. Helps take the sting out of trading Zack Wheeler.


With Moss and (Travis) Blackley, the Giants have employed 20% of the pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball who were born in Australia and started a major league game. If Clayton Tanner makes a start in his Giants career, that number will shoot up to 27%. This is progress, people. Measurable, defined progress.

This comes up know because Travis Blackley is back. We'll win that Jason Ellison trade yet.

Blackley had an outstanding impact on the Melbourne pitching staff after joining the roster in early January. He made eight relief appearances during the regular season, striking out 18 in 12.2 innings with a 1-0 record and 3.55 ERA, playing an important role in the second-seeded Aces' Postseason qualification.

He also walked 635 batters, give or take, but there's no harm in taking the lefty with the good arm and putting him in the earthquake kit. And if you're really interested in Australian baseball, I'll be on Perth radio next Thursday at 7:00 a.m. That's not made up. The radio appearance, I mean. I think "Perth" is pretty clearly made up. Wikipedia says that's a city with over a million people, but the thing about that site that a lot of people don't know: They let anyone write for it.

Anyway, we got off track with the topic of the day, which you don't even know yet because I've been too busy putting previously written words in gray boxes. The topic of the day: emergency starters. The Giants re-signed Ramon Ortiz yesterday. Now we have Travis Blackley back in the fold. Note: The last time he started a Giants game, Kevin Frandsen was the starting shortstop, Dan Ortmeier was the starting first baseman, and Dave Roberts started in center. It's almost like this is one of the middle steps in an AA program. We're listening, Travis. We're listening, and we're sorry.

Here are the emergency options that the Giants have signed. At least a couple of them will be in Fresno, ghoulishly waiting for a call:

  • Ramon Ortiz
  • Travis Blackley
  • Brian Burres
  • Boof Bonser
  • Yusmeiro Petit
  • Eric Hacker

It's not a super-exciting bunch, really -- though the stat nerd from 2004 in me is especially geeked about Petit -- but it sure beats most of the internal options that the Giants had. Surkamp is almost certainly the next starting option if there's an opening in the rotation, and if the Giants need to dip into this emergency stash, the season is probably hanging by its underwear from a flagpole, and there isn't anything anyone can do.

But that doesn't mean that the Giants shouldn't try to stock AAA with a competent batch of emergency replacements. They've done a pretty good job of it this offseason. I like it. It's a little odd that the Fresno rotation will have a much higher average age than the major-league rotation.

This is the paragraph in which I mention Ryan Vogelsong twenty times so you're clear on the fact that NRIs and minor-league free agents can pan out in completely unexpected ways. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong. Ryan Vogelsong.

That's not going to happen again, but it's still a decent batch of raffle tickets that the Giants have brought in. That's some mighty-fine tire-kicking, there, Sabes.