I'm goin with Blanco, Pill, Fontenot, & Theriot. Spring Training isn't quite over yet, but it's looking like the opening day starting line up (not including the pitching rotation, obviously, which needs no introduction or discussion, and admittedly we here at The Pitch & The Diamond are noticeably giddy about the prospect of Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, and Vogelsong as our 1 2 3 4...) 'twill shake out thusly: Posey catching (most excellent), Huff at first (for better or for worse), Burriss at 2nd (Freddy's not quite rehabbed and ready yet, but Manny's ever so versatile and playing better than ever and honestly he's won the job), Crawford at SS (very exciting - and now he's found his bat? very exciting indeed) Pablo at 3rd (love the Panda, -relatively- slim and trim), Pagan in LF (only because Sabean and Bochy invested in him and oh! how they do love their veterans, but if it was me, I'd take Blanco as the starting LF), Cabrera in CF (he's been holding up his end of the bargain), & Schierholtz in RF (he's earned it these past few years, and he knows the nooks and crannys of RF @ AT&T like no one else, plus, he's got that cannon of an arm. And he can hit enough to contribute.)
So you're probably wondering, at this point, "What about Brandon Belt?" Well, now, personally, we'd take Belt over Huff as our starting 1B, because Belt is young, talented, highly skilled and has played well in Scottsdale this year, but as previously mentioned (and touched upon in previous posts) certain managers like to lean on their veterans; plus, once you've dropped some cheddar on a player, you kind of have to play 'em. And Huff's makin $10M a year. Which is alot for a player of his history and calibre; It's an investment, we suppose. Hopefully Huff won't have quite as long of a leash this year as he did last year, because you've got Pill as a potential breakout player (at the ripe ol' age of 27, no less) AND Belt, the franchise 1B of the future absolutely rippin it in S.T. this Spring; they're both nippin' at his heels. (Our dream would be: Belt at First on opening day with Pill as the back-up 1B, but that's just not how it's gonna shape up.) And yeah, Huff hasn't embarrassed himself this year, there's no crime-scene athletic-tape outline in LF or anything, but still. Believe in the future already. Anyway, Belt goes down to AAA because it's a way better way to start the season for him (he was our opening day 1B last year, after all, and we all know how that panned out) and to be perfectly honest, he's more valuable as trade bait if he's crushing it in Fresno, rather than flailing in SF. And as much as I love the Baby Giraffe and I'd hate to see him go, if the 2B conundrum doesn't resolve, we just might need some trade bait before the all-star break. Of course, the same thing goes for our excellent AAA backstop Hector Sanchez (switch-hitting catcher extraordinaire) -- but inevitably, in spite of their skill and youth and hearts a flame, both Belt and H. Sanchez will be there, in AAA, waiting for the call up. It's where they belong for now, and believe us, if we could have it different, we'd line 'em up in Arizona on April 6th. But unfortunately, we're not managing Los Gigantes. Tis a shame, and we suffer mightily for it.
So then there's the 2B conundrum: Will Freddy Sanchez be healthy and strong and throwing at 100% come May? Or even June? We can only hope. But in the meantime, we've got Burriss, who has been part of the franchise for, what six years now?, and has contributed mightily in the past (sure he's made some egregious errors here and there, but over all, we love his stout heart, pure athleticism, positive attitude, and fighting spirit) and he's apparently made some adjustments at the plate that have improved his swing considerably this year. He's hitting remarkably well. Then there's Theriot, who seems somewhat neutered and hasn't played well at the big league level this spring, undisirregardless of the fact that he won a WS ring with St. Louis last year, but he's now a bit hobbled with a couple minor, nagging injuries (not a good way to start off the season.) And then there's Fontenot, who has proven himself as a Giant, knows the system and is a journeyman and a professional. (Also, there's Arias, but he was never going to make the team, although he has turned some heads and should be around in the future.) So the job goes to Burriss, and you hedge your bets by keeping both Theriot and Fontenot, cus hey, Theriot is a quality player that can play multiple positions, just like Fontenot, and hey, who knows what injuries await us in the future... it's a very complicated position to be in to fill the position of Second Base, given our position, positionally speaking. Second Base is a sticky wicket, sure, but do we really need two backups? Probably not, but you never know. Management does so love their vets.
As for the fourth outfielder, it's gotta be Gregor Blanco, hands down as he's beginning to look like he's gonna steal the position from Pagan (Angel Pagan being one of our big off-season acquisitions, as a lead-off hitter) and even though Blanco came seemingly out of nowhere to light it up, Gregor is looking like the real deal. Pagan was in an 0-24 slump at he plate in the last couple weeks, and we know that Spring Training is all about working out the kinks, but if he's our lead-off hitter and doesn't get on base, we're in trouble. (Andres Torres 2011 all over again...?) Blanco, by contrast, has been hitting around .350 in Spring Training, and I'd like to see him make the roster, as he could be a huge impact player. As you may have gathered, we prefer to let the kids stay and play and pave the way to the shining future, day by day. We favor the young. Let the kids get some experience, let's believe in their innate talent, and let's give 'em a bloody chance. We love redemption stories, underdogs, and gnarly, grizzled veterans beating the odds as much as the next guy, but we're overly ready round these parts here for some young bloods to shake things up. Unfortunately, what we want and what we get are rarely one and the same in Baseball, so Pagan in LF and Huff at 1B... well, it is what it is. Hopefully they'll surprise us.
At any rate, yes, we're very excited for this season, we are indeed. And it looks like the NL West might be a challenging division, to boot. Well, it always is for The Giants, and we've struggled against teams in our own division in recent years. Colorado and Arizona, they'll put up a fight, at least. (Oh oh, and don't even get us started about the $2.1B sale of the Dodgers yesterday.... <barf> There's no way in the world that the Dodgers are worth Two Billion dollars, more than any other sports franchise on the planet. They're worth half of that at best, we think. And yeah, they're gonna spend money like it's goin out of style come free-agency next year, but it takes more than a wheelbarrow full of money to win championships.) I'm not particularly worried about the Dodgers or the Padres. Still, we simply can not wait for opening day (just one week away!) or the home opener on the 13th... Oh Yeah!! Let's Go Giants!!