It's the Spring of Fifth-Outfielder Speculation. There are almost four weeks left of it. We'll use "Gorkys" as a noun, verb, and adjective by the end of it, like we're Smurfs. Can you gorkys down to the gorkys and pick up some gorkys for me? You'll know exactly what I mean.
But there just might be another spring battle to follow. Once the Giants signed Johnny Cueto, it looked like Chris Heston was out of the rotation. The bullpen was, ostensibly ...
- Santiago Casilla
- Sergio Romo
- George Kontos
- Hunter Strickland
- Josh Osich
- Javier Lopez
- Chris Heston
Go through them one by one, and see if there's one that makes sense to leave off a roster. Casilla? He's the closer. Romo makes a lot of money to be an excellent setup man. Strickland was excellent last year, and he has the best stuff in the bullpen. Osich is the logical replacement for Jeremy Affeldt, the platoon-free lefty. Lopez is the opposite of that, but he had one of the better years of his career last season. Out of the 147 batters he faced, just 19 of them got a hit. Heston is the logical choice as a long reliever, which is a role that we know Bruce Bochy likes to have in every bullpen.
If there's a statistical red flag, Kontos' peripherals and FIP were scary last year. But he was excellent at preventing baserunners and runs last year, and if the lack of strikeouts catches up with him, it'll be something to address in the middle of the season, not before it. Baseball teams are all fancy with their stats and whatnot these days, but there still isn't a team in the league that would boot a reliever coming off a 2.33 ERA season. Somethings are just hard-wired in.
It's possible that Osich isn't right this spring and opens the door for competition, but that would open the door for Steven Okert, who is eerily similar. It's also probable -- if not certain -- that an injury will make all of this moot. As of right now, Matt Cain hasn't thrown a pitch this spring, which would suggest that Heston in the rotation. The bullpen is never what you think it will be. For teams other than the Giants, at least.
The biggest issue with the bullpen as presently constructed is that Cory Gearrin is out of options, and he's probably good enough to be more than just right-handed organizational depth. We know the Giants are loaded with young-ish bullpen arms, but they'll lose Gearrin. The early reviews of him in the spring have been somewhere between "wow" and "wowza," with some fringe "wowzie wow wow"s mixed in. He's a strikeout arm who hasn't stuck in the majors because of some ill-timed injuries, and there's no way he'll clear waivers. Is there really no way for him to pitch himself onto the roster?
Is there really no way for any of these pitchers to pitch themselves off the roster?
Is this the bullpen, for better or for worse, barring a spring injury?
There's a poll! Maybe. I'll guess that the Giants' bullpen is going to enter the season as expected, even if there are always spring goblins building snare traps as we speak.