I wanted to break away from the divisional previews for a post because there has been a lot going on in Giants camp recently, including a game Monday which included appearances from both Randy Johnson and Tim Lincecum vs. the Mariners. Johnson  didn't throw quite the way he wanted to, throwing only 3 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits. Lincecum threw a little better as he was the second Giants starter to go 6 innings in an outing this spring, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits while striking out a batter. Bruce Bochy said that from here on out, starters are going to start getting into the 5th and 6th innings with more regularity as there is only about a week left on the Cactus League schedule. Another positive to come from Monday's game in Scottsdale was the play of Pablo Sandoval. The Giants 22 year-old third basemen hit his 3rd home run of the spring while going 3-4 Monday, raising his spring average to .442. Again, nobody is going to expect Sandoval to carry this into the regular season, or even perform like he did at the end of the '08 season, but he's showing his capabilities and if he can fully adapt to third base, the Giants may have found themselves the answer their for the foreseeable future. The Giants did lose the game Monday, but positives continue to spring up all over camp as Spring Training 2009 has been pretty good to the Giants thus far.
In other ST news, it looks like Emannuel Burris is inching closer and closer to being named the opening day starter at second base and a decision could come as soon as this week. Originally, the plan was to announce the winner of the competition in April, but Bochy would rather get his first unit assigned and playing together over that last week so a decision should be coming here in the next few days. On numbers alone, Burris has won the gig, hands down. He's hitting .407 and leading all probable regulars in OBP. He's also stealing bases and has been playing much more up to par defensively over the last few weeks. Early on in spring he had a game where he committed a few errors, but he's been almost flawless since then. Frandsen has done pretty good in his own right though, hitting .333 with a home run and 5 RBI. Both are going to be on the big league roster, and both will see their time at second base, but I think Burris will enter the year atop the depth chart there.
While the second base situation seems to be clearing up, the bullpen and bench spots couldn't be more unpredictable at this point. On the bench, the Giants seem to have at least 3 sure things in Nate Schierholtz, Steve Holm and Kevin Frandsen. However, the decision on whether to start  the year with a 12-man pitching staff or not hasn't been made yet, so it's not even clear how many bench spots there will be available. Jesus Guzman and Andres Torres are really forcing the Giants to take a long look at them, but guys like Rich Aurilia, Eugenio Velez and Juan Uribe seem to be the favorites for the remaining spots. In the pen, there seems to be only 3 sure bets right now too, as nobody is guaranteed anything, outside of Bob Howry, Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson. The team is trying to find a long-reliever and could end up turning Brandon Medders into just that, which could be his ticket onto the roster. They have also been looking outside the organization as Will Ohman's name has surfaced a few times recently as the Giants try and find a more consistent lefty to help out Affeldt. It looks like they have lost faith in Jack Taschner, who thinks he'll be traded by opening day, and they don't seem too confident in Merkin Valdez's health, even though he's out of options. So yes, the Cactus League is winding down, but things are just starting to get interesting.
Note: Tomorrow, I will be back to the predictions and carry through with those until I finish. Sorry for those of you visiting for strictly Giants news. I will try and make tidbits at the end of the prediction posts.
Trevor Cole The San Francisco Giants Blog