Hence, probably, why Brian Sabean recently noted on KNBR (got it from a great Mychael Urban Insider's Notes article) that Zito will not automatically get his place in the rotation back, that he will be competing for that position the moment he begins his rehab session with AAA Fresno. The scenarios now are: 1) Zito pitches like normal and becomes long man out of the bullpen; 2) Zito pitches well and wins a place in the rotation, either a 5-man or, if they use my idea, 6-man, rotation (and my idea really works well when we have big lead in standings); 3) Zito pitches horribly and maybe something else is found to be wrong and he gets put on 15-man DL, eventually moving to 60-man to open up 40-man roster spot, or if no injury maybe he even gets put on waivers and sent to AAA.
Urban also had a nice rundown for the Marlin's series, in lieu of my rundowns:
The Marlins are coming to town for a three-game set that starts Tuesday, and in addition to being a pretty good threat to the Giants' season-long streak of sellouts, Florida is a legitimate threat to cool everyone's jets on the shores of McCovey Cove.The Giants offer up Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, so there should be another great series of low-scoring battles for the Giants against the Marlins. However, some hitters are either heating up or hot in May: Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, Posey, Andres Torres, Aubrey Huff. I would even toss in Darren Ford and Burriss, in short spurts: Burriss could easily be an MI starter if he could hit for average power (in terms of ISO) and play plus defense, but so far his biggest fault as a hitter - no power, few walks - is happening as while he is hitting a sizzling .357, but he has no walks and no extra-base hits. If they can put them all together better, the offense should be heating up runs-wise sooner or later.
Tuesday's starter for the Fish, for example, is Ricky Nolasco, who not only is pitching well this season (3-0, 3.32 ERA) but has a lifetime ERA of 1.91 over 28 1/3 innings against San Francisco, and he's 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA at AT&T Park. A pitching reprieve of sorts comes Wednesday in the form of Chris Volstadt (2-3, 5.73 ERA this season), but his career ERA against the Giants over 15 innings is 1.20, and on Thursday the Giants have to contend with Anibal Sanchez, whose career numbers against the Giants are identical to those of Volstadt, and whose pure stuff is obviously no-hit caliber.
The Marlins can swing it a little bit, too; Hanley Ramirez, their biggest star is scuffling, but Gaby Sanchez is a hitting machine, Greg Dobbs has been on fire for much of the year, and Mike Stanton is a budding slugger of the highest order. By no means can the Giants put this bad boy in cruise control for the rest of the homestead before hitting the road (for Milwaukee) again Thursday night.
Of course, great starting pitching abounds, Cain has a 3.21 ERA in 4 starts in May (2.56 K/BB), Bumgarner has righted himself spectacularly, with a 1.63 ERA in 4 starts in May (3.00 K/BB), and Vogelsong has been equally dominating after his hiccup in his second start this season, compiling 2.01 ERA in 4 starts (2.25 K/BB). Vogelsong will probably have a regression at some point, his ERA is way better than his K/BB ratio suggests it should be around (though his FIP is still excellent at 2.84, xFIP at 3.38, tERA at 2.75, for the season, versus overall ERA of 1.93).
Been having a lot of thoughts which I've posted at comments around the Giants blogosphere, here are a few I remember plus maybe one or two new ones:
- Buster Posey: I worry for our wunderkind, been hearing a lot of foul balls to his helmet lately, though I would also note that his hitting for more power kicked in around then as well. I'll feel better about his hitting once he starts slugging for homers again and stop taking shots to the head. Giants are also worried, according to Carl Steward for the Merc. Bochy is quoted there as being concerned,
- Gary Brown: Gary's doing superbly now that he's figured out the league, he could get promoted to AA any day now. I thought that he would prove the skeptics wrong about both his walks and power, and I'm been extremely pleased with his performance. Some people qualify his performance because he's out of college, but even top hitting prospects start out in advanced A (like Matt Wieters and Buster Posey) then get moved up, and he's hitting as well as either of them did in Advanced A: Posey hit .326/.428/.540/.967 in 80 games, 291 AB there, with 45 walks and 45 K's for 85% contact rate (241 ISO); Weiters hit .345/.448/.576/1.024 in 69 games, 229 AB there, with 44 walks and 47 K's for 79% contact rate (231 ISO); Brown currently at .378/.451/.559/1.010 in 44 games, 188 AB there, with 17 walks (9 HBP; he is one who takes one for his team, if you look at his college career and pros, he gets a lot of HBP, good percentage of his walks) and 30 K's for 84% contact rate (remember, want to see 85% and above). His ISO is 181. This is against pitchers ahead of him, average age is 23.2 YO.
- Jeremy Affeldt: He seems to be in pretty bad spirits lately and I wonder if they are going to find something physically wrong, DLing him (or even DFA him, it's his last season on his contract, only about $2-3M left on it), and bringing up Marc Kroon.
- Brandon Belt: His strikeout rate is horrendous right now for AAA, let alone the majors, so even though he's hitting a ton, I don't think the Giants will promote him this season until he either get his strikeouts down to the level he had it in Advanced A-ball and AA (roughly 80% contact rate) or hits a homer every other day (he's not even hitting a lot right now, only 4 in 87 AB). I think his future path lies in two examples of Giants prospects who hit well in AAA but struck out a lot: Todd Linden and Matt Williams. I think more the latter than the former, though, but recall that Matty yo-yo-ed between the majors and AAA for a number of years before figuring it out. I see no upside to promoting Belt right now, the only thing he is doing extremely well right now is walk and that is not why we need him, we need him to hit for power. Plus, the longer he's in AAA, the longer Giants have to solve problem of who to DFA in order to put him on the roster.
- Aaron Rowand: Which brings me to our famous "Gamer" under-producer. I thought perhaps the ignominy of being benched last season would light a fire under him to win back a starting position, but it only brought more of his "cycling for fitness" program and a new batting stance which looks like he's about to limbo, bobbing up and down, before snapping TO when the pitcher starts his throw. One person tweeted that it looks "pornographic". After a nice hot start while on the bench and then taking over when Torres was injured, Rowand has been mired in a very cold slump, and if he does not come out of this soon, I wonder if he might become the odd man out - instead of the rumored Nate Schierholtz - should Belt figure out his strikeout problems in the second half of 2011. At that point the Giants would "only" owe him between $15-18M, and they might finally decide to either 1) DFA him or 2) trade him to White Sox or Phillies, giving them all of his salary save the MLB minimum, but getting a failing/failed prospect that was a top prospect previously (see Michael Main) out of them for our troubles. Both teams seem to still like him - just not the salary - and should have a failed good prospect or two to throw our way.
- Emmanuel Burriss: Although Ryan Rohlinger had been the anointed uber-utility guy for a number of years now, Burriss looks like he's getting the first shot at winning that role now that Mark DeRosa's career appears to have ended prematurely. And that makes sense, the Giants have some hope that he might become starter at some point, so they are giving him chance to show them what he can now do in majors. As noted above, he unfortunately appears to have not learned much beyond what he showed before, which would relegate him to utility role. But according to recent news accounts, he has fully accepted this role and flung himself into it (unlike, I would note, Kevin Frandsen, who could have won such a role in 2010 had he bought into it when he was sent down in 2009 instead of pouting his way into a minor league itinerant lifestyle), so he could be a good guy for us off the bench, a la what Ford has done for us in limited play, though not as spectacular since Ford is faster (FYI: Baseball America rated Brown as the fastest baserunner, even over Ford. However, Minor League Baseball Analysts rated Francisco Peguero as being faster than Brown and Ford isn't even on the list, which might explain why they rated Peguero above Brown on their Top 15 Giants prospect list).