Monday's practice was rained out, so the big topic in Giantsylvania was the first lineup of the spring, which features Justin Maxwell hitting cleanup. Here's Alex Pavlovic with some quotes from Bruce Bochy about Maxwell's chances to make the team, and here's Andrew Baggarly writing about the out-of-options roster crunch. The players who will need to be exposed to waivers if they don't make the Giants' roster:
- Jean Machi
- George Kontos
- Erik Cordier
- Yusmeiro Petit
- Ehire Adrianza
- Travis Ishikawa
- Joaquin Arias
- Gregor Blanco
Some of those players -- Blanco and Petit, especially -- are going to be on the roster, even if they don't get a hit/retire a runner all spring. Arias is guaranteed $1.1 million, so he's probably on, too. The roster crunch for the bench isn't that interesting, to be honest. Adrianza is almost certainly going to make it over Matt Duffy, and Juan Perez will probably hold off Maxwell. Adrianza is a superlative defender, and there's no sense exposing him to waivers when the difference between him and the person angling for his job is minimal, at best, in a part-time role.
The bullpen, though, is a mess.
Assuming that everyone is healthy, the Giants will start their six-man bullpen with Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, and Javier Lopez. Then there's Petit and the loser of the Ryan Vogelsong/Tim Lincecum competition that's not really a competition, apparently, bringing us to six out of seven spots filled already.
Jean Machi would be the last spot, then, and he's got a case for the most underrated player on the Giants. Think back to past bullpens, when the Giants would have to use Doug Henry or Rich Rodriguez in the eighth inning, or when they had to scramble in the post-Nen world and use pitchers like Dustin Hermanson and Tim Worrell as the closer. Brad Hennessey saved 17 games for the Giants in Lincecum's rookie season. Read that sentence again. READ IT AND PROCESS IT. And we're wondering about the guy with a 2.71 career ERA whose performance to date would make him overqualified for the sixth- and seventh-inning duties he'd likely have?
Well, yeah. First, because you don't use ERA to evaluate relievers, and Machi's strikeout rate dipped below the league average last year. Second, because he gave up more than half of his earned runs and home runs for the regular season over his final 12 games, and then he allowed a run in four of his seven postseason appearances. He looked like he was out of gas -- both a description and a fart joke -- but only if he wasn't pitching over his head in the first place. He kind of appeared out of nowhere, and relievers do tend to disappear as quickly as they appear.
Still, if Machi can approximate what he's done over the last two seasons, he'd have plenty of value and the Giants would be silly to ditch him for a pitcher who isn't likely to pitch much better than Machi. Is the upside to Kontos and Cordier so great that it's worth taking the risk?
Could be. George Kontos didn't deserve to be in the minors last year, pitching fine for the Giants when he was up and posting absurd strikeout numbers (11 per nine innings) in Triple-A. He won't make it through waivers. Erik Cordier throws 5,039 miles per hour, which is the reason he was given a spot on the 40-man roster immediately after signing with the Giants.
This is what Cordier looks like, remember:
You don't need video of Machi to remember what he throws. Sometimes the splitter drops, and sometimes it sorta tumbles right in the middle of the freaking plate. It's a box filled with either cheesecake or spiders, so just open it. But he's also been generally effective, so don't be rude.
Kontos's slider is a box filled with kittens or a severed finger, now that I mention it. Cordier's box might contain a baseball or it might not, depending on if he can throw a baseball into the large box. They all have concerns worth fearing. They all have attributes worth celebrating.
So, they're all relievers, then. I never trusted their kind.
I don't have an answer for you. Not without the fermented Cactus League stats to pay attention to secretly. I'm just pointing it out. I have a feeling the Giants will come away from this looking silly, but in that Conor Gillaspie, not-that-silly kind of way. There could be a trade, and there could be (will probably be?) an injury to make this whole thing moot. For now, I'll guess that the incumbent keeps his job, and the other two won't make it out of the National League when they're put on waivers.
A fancy spring from any of them could change that, though. Hey, I still believe in Hunter Strickland, too, even if that's because I'm stubborn as all heck. We're all just back here, twiddling thumbs and waiting for baseball games to start. WHICH IT DOES TOMORROW.
Until then, vote in the poll! Who's your choice for that last bullpen spot? Don't be a weenie and use the comments for a write-in vote like Steven Okert or Brett Bochy. Nobody likes that.