Back Again Already!

You can tell that baseball is in the air because I last blogged a week ago and I actually have several things to tell you about.  YAY!!  First off – the list of non-roster guys who have been invited to Spring Training has been released:

Pitchers

RHP Jason Berken

LHP Tyson Blach

RHP Clayton Blackburn

RHP Brett Bochy

RHP Jose Casilla

RHP Kyle Crick

RHP Rafael Dolis

RHP J.C. Gutierrez

RHP Chris Heston

RHP Derek Law

RHP Mitch Lively

RHP Kameron Loe

RHP Adam Reifer

RHP Sandy Rosario

LHP Dan Runzler

RHP Mason Tobin

Catchers

Jeff Arnold

Guillermo Quiroz

Andrew Susac

Ben Turner

Infielders

Chris Dominguez

Brandon Hicks

Mark Minicozzi

Joe Panik

Outfielders

Javier Herrera

Mac Williamson

Looking at that list of pitchers, you can see the value of a great lefty like Madison – there aren’t a lot around.  Bruce Bochy’s son, Brett, will be back this season.  He was impressive last year, so hopefully he’ll repeat.  Would be great to have that father-son matchup on the team together someday.  In particular, I’ve heard lots of good things about Kyle Crick, Andrew Susac, and Joe Panik, so I’m looking forward to seeing them play (hopefully Comcast will televise more Spring Training games this season, because those guys will probably all be gone by the time I get there!).  Several familiar names on there, including Sandy (“The Spitter”) Rosario, Dan Runzler (that guy just never goes away), and Guillermo Quiroz.  Favorite new name of the bunch – Mark Minicozzi.  Whenever I read it, I hear it in an Italian accent, and it makes me giggle.  Plus it makes me think of my cousin’s dog, Cozi.  My favorite new name 3 years ago was Ryan Vogelsong, and we all know how that one turned out!  Sad to see that Tyler La Torre didn’t make it this season, but he was signed to a minor league contract again, so that’s something (his dad works with me).  So the competition will begin soon to see who can impress the big guys and possibly win a place on the team, just like Chad Gaudin, Heath Hembree, Shane Loux, Mike Kickham, Guillermo Quiroz, and Kensuke (“I’m a Good Boy and Don’t Spit”) Tanaka did last season.

Speaking of left-handed pitchers, did you hear about Clayton Kershaw?  He was given a 7-year, $215 million contract from the new money bags of the West, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yes folks, that’s an average of over $30 million a year.  What could that kid ever do with that much money??   This makes him the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball.  I got the news from a coworker who is a big Dodgers fan.  He then proceeded to send me an Email with a picture of Kershaw saying, “With this new contract I can buy anything…too bad I already own the Giants!”  Yes, I was thinking what I know you’re all thinking.  Grounds for murder right there.  I shared the Email with my hubby, and his response was, “Two words:  Barry Zito.”  Poor Barry!  But it is true – a 7-year contract is a big risk, even for someone as fantastic as Kershaw (hey, you gotta appreciate the kid’s talent, even if he is on the wrong team).  We shall see how that one turns out.  And to my coworker – the boy did not own the Giants last season.  He went 3 and 2 against us.  I just looked it up.  And then he choked in the playoffs.  So neener, neener, neener!!!!

Three Giants received 1-year contracts this week before going to arbitration.  Gregor Blanco will receive $2.525 million (love that boy – glad he’s back), Tony Abreu will receive $745K, and Yusmeiro (“One-hitter”) Petit will receive $845K plus performance incentives.  Congratulations, Guys!!  Still waiting to hear about Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias.  Both should walk away with hefty deals.

Oh, what a difference a contract year can make.  Word came out this week that Pablo has lost 42 pounds in the off season.  Hard to believe, right?  Well, here is a picture that he posted on Instagram (middle of page), and it’s shirtless.  Hard to hide any weight that way.  I’m really happy for the guy, but I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude at this point, as he usually loses a lot of weight in the off season and then puts it all right back on as the season progresses.  Hoping he can keep it off this time as his level of play is tremendously better sans the pounds.  Good luck, Pablo!  The Giants may try to sign him to a contract before he becomes a free agent next season, keeping him on the team and away from anyone else.  If they don’t do it before the season begins, that weight better stay off or he won’t look good to anyone.

A rare event in baseball occurred this week – a rule change was made.  MLB owners approved expanded instant replay for the 2014 season.  This will give managers more opportunity to challenge questionable calls.  This season it will be tested, and depending on its effectiveness, the decision will be made whether to keep it in place.  Here’s the MLB Press Release detailing the new instant replay rules.  Here’s also a link to Andrew Baggarly’s rundown of the changes (I love his explanation – plus it’s funny – read it!).  Some highlights:  Each manager will have one instant replay challenge, and if that play is overturned, that manager will have the ability to challenge one more play in that game.  If the play is not overturned, he has lost any other challenges for that game.  The rule details the types of plays that can be challenged, including fan interference (a big problem at AT&T last season), trap play in the outfield, and batter hit by pitch.  An interesting sideline to this is that from now on, teams will be able to show replays on the ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play was reviewed.  Replays have not been allowed in ballparks since 1976, when a bottle was thrown at an umpire after a bad call during a Yankees vs. Orioles game.  Though I do have some concerns over the safety of the umpires, being able to watch replays in the park is something that I am really looking forward to.  How many times have I been at the ballpark and wondered if we had gotten cheated out of a run because of a bad call?  That’s been one of the most frustrating things about watching a game live vs. at home.  So excited about this.  And all those umps will have more pressure on them to get it right.

Going to end with some talk about the 49ers vs. Seahawks game on Sunday.  I know, this is a baseball blog, but there is actually a baseball connection.  There’s been lots of trash talk going on between the two cities about who will win this game.  That talk has spread to the baseball teams from the two competing cities.  Here’s the Twitter conversation between the Giants and the Mariners.  The bet is that if the Seahawks win, the Giants have to post a picture on Twitter of Lou Seal going “Feast Mode” on some Skittles.  This is to commemorate the fact that Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch has been eating Skittles, handful by handful, on the sidelines of NFL games for years.  If the 49ers win, the Seahawks have to post a picture of their mascot, Mariner Moose, “Kaepernicking”.  Love it!  The conversation started between the Giants and the Mariners, but once Lou Seal (aka Luigi Francisco Seal on Twitter) got dragged into it, he got in on the action, tweeting, “That’s @LouSeal01 for your information.  If you want me in on your little wager you might want to clue me in first.  BTW, IT’S ON!”  and later, “Haha!  We shall see…Tell my boy the Moose to break out his Chapstick and get ready to self smooch!”  What a riot!  You tell ‘em, Lou!  Can’t wait to see that goofy moose kissing his bicep!

FanFest is in less than 2 weeks now!  At this point, Ginny and I are going for sure, and my sister and my 9-year-old niece (who is a HUGE Giants fan) are probably going as well.  I’m so excited!  Until next time, GO NINERS!!  AND GO GIANTS!!

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