Haven't done one of these for a while, and considering I don't want to write extensively on something new (at least yet anyways), I figured an "Around the Candlestick" is due. Keep in mind three things as you read these bits.
1.) It's Conference and NCAA Tournament time in College Basketball, and other than baseball season, this is the the time where I care the most about sports. Seriously, the NCAA Tournament is heaven for a sports fan: it's gambling mixed with sports knowledge mixed with crazy fans mixed with booze mixed with incredibly joy for no reason mixed with un-scalable (thanks to the Jersey kids for the new adjective!) heartache. I absolutely love College basketball from Early March until April.
2.) I'm getting ready for an auction fantasy baseball draft (via Yahoo!). I'm both excited/nervous/preparing/clueless for the inevitable draft that comes up in little over a week (this is my first auction draft). I'm having a mock draft tomorrow. Whether or not that will help is to be determined.
3.) Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey are fighting tonight. This fight is a big dilemma for me, mainly because I love both fighters. I think Pacquiao will win, but I'm nervous because I think Clottey is a lot better fighter than most casual boxing fans think (if he pressed more in the last round, he would have won his fight against Miguel Cotto).
Okay, here are the bits so far.
Andres Torres the Hot Topic of Conversation on the Blogosphere.
Both Bay City Ball and Croix De Candlestick both had excellent posts involving Andres Torres this week. Chris at BCB wrote a great piece about Torres' unusually solid 2009 and his tendency to hit flyballs. Additionally, not only did Torres hit a lot of flyballs, but he also had a high BABIP, which might mean that his 2009 was more flukish than promising.
Nick at CDC had a post about the Giants' fifth outfielder spot, since he figured there would only be two outfielders to back up the (projected) starting lineup of Mark Derosa (LF), Aaron Rowand (CF) and Nate Schierholtz (RF). In CDC's opinion, Fred Lewis is one of the better options, but probably won't be given a chance and most likely will be traded because he's out of Minor League options. John Bowker most likely will start in Triple-A in his opinion (though he doesn't like it, and neither do I) because he still has a Minor League option. Same thing could happen to Eugenio Velez, though he might get the benefit of the doubt because of his speed. Torres seems to have a roster spot because of his defense and speed, though like Chris, Nick is not a fan of his bat either.
My take on all this. I agree with both BCB and CDC. One thing they didn't mention was Torres' suspect contact rate and him swinging at a lot of pitches outside the strike zone. In 2009, Torres had a contact rate of 72.3 percent (tied for second-worst of any position player with thirty or more plate appearances) and swung at 29.1 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. The fact that he had that good a season despite those numbers in those categories shows that he got very lucky last year, almost too lucky. Can he improve his plate approach? Yeah, but he's 31-years-old, not exactly an age where guys are "developing."
Madison Bumgarner's Drop in Velocity = Panic?
A lot of Giants fans are pretty worried about Bumgarner's drop in velocity. It's been the hot topic since his first start at the Major League level back in September. Both Grant at the McCovey Chronicles, and Obsessive Giants Compulsive have interesting takes on Bumgarner's status in 2010. MCC believes Bumgarner should start in Triple-A and is taking a cautious approach with his "potential", while OGC believes Bumgarner is ready and still is drinking the "Kool-Aid" as he likes to put it.
For some reason, I'm on the fence with this one. I originally was a big believer in Bumgarner back in January. However, I'm starting to believe that perhaps putting him in Fresno to start the year wouldn't be such a bad idea, just so he a.) doesn't get exposed too early and get his confidence kiboshed (e.g. what Kansas City did to Zach Greinke, though he turned it around the past couple years) and b.) gets properly developed and hones his mechanics and approach (if he is rushed to the Majors, he might not do that).
MadBum's 20-years-old and I like him a lot. I think he has great potential, even if he doesn't become the next Tim Lincecum (which I'm not banking on by the way). The Giants should treat him delicatley, and with Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez already anchoring the rotation, the Giants have no pressing need to have Bumgarner in the starting rotation so early.
Todd Wellemeyer a Shoe-In for the Fifth Spot?
MLB.com Giants beat writer Chris Haft wrote an interesting piece about Todd Wellemeyer and the instant impact he's making in Scottsdale this Spring. Basically, Haft suggest that Wellemeyer starting the year in the fifth spot in the rotation wouldn't be such a bad idea, and that it could be better for Bumgarner and the Giants overall in the long run. Furthermore, though Wellemeyer struggled last season, apparently, Wellemeyer insists he is closer to his 2008 form now than his form in 2009.
What do I think? I really wish we had another option other than Wellemeyer. (Seriously, if we could get the Yankees to cover a lot of his salary, I really would honestly take Kei Igawa for half-a-season; then again, because of my Filipino heritage, I always feel biased toward Asian players.) His 2009 season isn't impressive at all, and there is some debate out there on whether or not Wellemeyer can be a starting pitcher in the long-run (some feel he is more suited as a middle-reliever). However, when I wrote my post on MadBum, the competition at the time was Kevin Pucetas and Joe Martinez, two guys who are "Four-A Players" in my book (well...maybe not Pucetas, but definitely Martinez). Wellemeyer though is a better option than those two. And, since it will only be half-a-season probably, the Giants won't really need to bank on Wellemeyer lasting over the long haul.
As much as I hate to say it, if I have to choose between the two for the fifth spot, I might have to go with Wellemeyer (just because I don't want to screw up MadBum that much).
Bleacher Report Giants Writer on Hot Stove TV.
I frequently disagree with Andy Bensch on Bleacher Report. I think he loves Torres too much, doesn't like Lewis enough and goes back and forth when it comes to sticking with youngsters or signing veterans (though to be fair, I was like that too when I first started writing for Bleacher Report and this blog, but I feel I have honed my opinion and thoughts since my initial posts).
However, I like to support a fellow Giants writer when he is due and his appearance on Hot Stove.com TV is definitely "support-worthy." Is Hot Stove.com TV awesome listening that will replace Mike Francesa at WFAN and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo at Sirius? Probably not (though it certainly could give KNBR's hosts a run for their money). However, considering I had my own podcast for a few months (until I deleted it due to monetary issues...no, that's a lie, I just didn't enjoy it after a while), I definitely appreciate amateur sports radio when I get the opportunity to listen. Bensch definitely does a solid job, and considering he's only a freshman in college (and a radio and broadcasting major to boot), I think the kid has a bright future in terms of sports radio or podcasting.
Lastly, Hat Tips!
Thanks to Paap Fly and McCovey Chronicles for posting Remember '51 on their blogroll. I definitely appreciate the shot outs, especially from McCovey Chronicles, one of my favorite Giants blogs, and one that I have been following for a couple of years.
Also, continued Hat Tip to MLB Fantasy Prospects.com, which gave a hat tip of their own to Remember '51. If you don't already know, MLBFP is a great place for prospect info and analysis. If you're a roto guy looking for prospects, MLBFP is the place to go to. Great stuff as always, Stephen.