In the course of writing this blog, MoreSplashHits often reads other Giants fan blogs, comment threads and Twitter feeds. And we’re often amazed at the rabid comments by some die-hard fans over even the most mundane decisions the team makes.
And that’s why MoreSplashHits likes to think of ourselves as the thinking fans’ blog, more prone to analysis than outrage, the voice of reason and calm. We like to find the logic in any decision the team makes even when we don’t agree with it.
But the news that came out of Giants camp Thursday even boggles our mind.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced the Giants will break camp with 12 pitchers, even though Ryan Vogelsong will open the season on the DL because the Giants won’t need a fifth starter until April 15.
It had been thought that the Giants would open with 11 pitchers, four starters and seven relievers. That would allow them to keep six players on the bench, offering a brief respite from some tough roster decisions.
But Bochy said with the Giants opening the season in the hitter-friendly parks in Arizona and Colorado, he would feel more comfortable to open the season with 12 pitchers so they would not run the risk of taxing the pitching staff so early in the season.
By that logic, if Vogelsong had been healthy to open the season, the Giants would have carried 13 pitchers, leaving only four bench players.
Idiotic, right? So how does the fact that the Giants only need four starters to open the season change how much the bullpen gets taxed in the opening week of the season?
But here are some facts that undermine Bochy’s logic (or lack thereof) concerning the worries of opening up in Arizona and Colorado.
In nine home games against the Giants last season, the Diamondbacks scored 44 runs or an average of 4.9 runs a game. A high number.
But take away one game — in late September — in which Arizona scored 15 runs against the Giants, then you’re looking at 29 runs in eight game, or a 3.6 average.
With the Giants opening with their three top pitchers in Arizona — Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain — there’s no reason to expect the bullpen to get taxed in Arizona.
Colorado is a different deal. We all know about Coors Field and its reputation as a hitter’s park.
But the park plays differently in April than it does in say July. It is much friendlier to pitchers in April.
Last season, the Rockies averaged 5.4 runs a game at home. In April, they averaged 4.6.
Bochy’s thinking might be more reasonable if any of the Giants’ starters had experienced some health issues this spring that might have stunted their preparation for the season.
But that hasn’t been the case. Cain threw seven innings Thursday against the Rangers. Bumgarner did the same in a minor league game on Wednesday. So there’s no reason not to expect Lincecum, Cain and MadBum to pitch six, seven or even eight innings in the opening week of the season.
Barry Zito is another story. The Giants would be happy to get five or six innings from Zito in any of his starts, whether they happen in April or August.
But Zito’s first start is scheduled for Monday, April 9 in Colorado. Even if the bullpen gets overworked in that game, April 10 is a scheduled off day, so the entire staff would get a day to rest.
So wouldn’t it make more sense of the Giants to use the roster flexibility created by Vogelsong opening the season on the DL to create more depth on its bench?
Bochy should be less concerned about possibly taxing his bullpen (a strength of the team) and more concerned with taxing Buster Posey in the first week of the season.
Opening with a six-player bench would allow the Giants to keep three catchers on the roster to open the season.
It would also allow the Giants time to see how Hector Sanchez’s outstanding spring translates into the regular season.
The same could be said for Brandon Belt, who has been rumored to be ticketed to start the season in Triple-A despite tearing up the Cactus League.
If that happens, that’s a blog post regarding Bochy’s lost marbles for another day.