Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days!!

I seriously need to update this thing more often!  Even though baseball hasn’t started yet (but it will very soon!!), there has been some news to update you on regarding our boys.  Here’s a list to get you up-to-date with what’s happened in the past month:

  • My beloved Gregor Blanco will be leaving the Giants. He was offered a minor league deal by the Diamondbacks and will be battling for a spot on their team during Spring Training.  At least I might get a chance to see him again as we will be attending a D-Backs game in March.  I am really going to miss that guy.  He definitely came through for us when we needed some outfield support.  Plus he made several amazing catches (including the one in the Matt Cain perfect game) and clutch hits (remember that leadoff homerun in Game 2 of the 2014 World Series?).  Besides his production, he is just an all-around nice guy, so I’m sure he’ll be missed in the clubhouse as well.  Best of luck, Gregor.  And thank you for not spitting!!
  • Santiago Casilla will also be leaving as he signed a 2-year contract with the Oakland A’s. At least he doesn’t have very far to travel!  I think everyone expected this after his performance last season, but I will really miss Santiago as well.  He always gave it his best and he was another really nice dude.  I won’t miss the torture in those late innings, though.  Glad he was picked up by another team.  Best of luck, Santiago.  Thanks for helping us win those rings.
  • Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith all avoided arbitration with the Giants and signed 1 year deals. Gillaspie gets $1.4 million, Kontos gets $1.75 million, Nuñez gets $4.2 million, and Will Smith gets $2.5 million.  Very excited about all these guys coming back.  Conor earned his place on the team as a backup third baseman with his amazing post-season play.  George was a treasured gem in an otherwise lackluster bullpen, posting a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.16 WHIP last season (plus he’s adorable!).  Eduardo came through with some amazing support both offensively and defensively at third after the Matt Duffy trade (still hard for me to type that).  He may even see some time in left field next season as he has experience in that role.  We need some outfield backup with Angel and Gregor leaving.  And Will showed much promise at the end of the season.  He’s a much needed lefty in the bullpen with the probable exit of Javier Lopez.
  • Still haven’t had confirmation whether Sergio Romo or Javier Lopez will be coming back, but at this point it doesn’t look good. On KNBR this morning, Duane Kuiper mentioned that if Javier isn’t offered a major league contract up front, he probably will retire.  He could definitely have a second career in baseball as an announcer, though.  That guy is so intelligent and witty!  On the other hand, Sergio Romo would be willing to try out for a team during Spring Training (even though he’s never had to do that before).  Romo mentioned in an interview that he would love to come back, but at this point he’s assuming it’s not in the cards.  I would have to agree.  Supposedly the Mets and the Nationals have shown interest in him.  Will keep you updated if I hear anything.  I love Sergio and all he did for us during his time on the Giants, but I have to say his disrespect of Bruce Bochy near the end of last season has left a sour taste in my mouth.  Sergio will be pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Giants signed Korean 3rd baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league deal. He will be competing for an infield roster spot during Spring Training.  I mentioned him as a person of interest in my last blog.  He did really well in the Korean League, so we’ll see how that translates here.  There’s going to be a lot of infield competition this season!
  • The most surprising move to me was the signing of Nick Hundley, former starting catcher for both the Padres and the Rockies. He was given a major-league contract, agreeing to a 1-year, $2 million dollar deal, meaning that he will most likely be Buster’s backup catcher.  Hundley hit .260 with the Rockies last season, but that was in a park that is super batter friendly.  Still that’s above average for a backup catcher, and he is a veteran behind the plate so I’m sure guys will feel comfortable pitching to him.  I remember Hundley from watching games where he was our opponent, and what I remember is that you need to watch out when he comes up to the plate!  Definitely made a good impression on me!  This addition surprised me because I assumed Trevor Brown would be the backup catcher, but I guess even though the starters like to pitch to him, his bat has been a bit too quiet for comfort.  Trevor is a guy who may also be able to play another position, making the Spring Training competition that much more lively.  Welcome to the team, Nick.  Wonder how he’s going to adjust to the lower altitude?
  • As one player gets added to the roster, another must leave. Thus when Nick Hundley was signed, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment to make room for him.  I liked Adrianza, but I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t released sooner.  He was never really that impressive.  Today he was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers, so at least he’ll be on a team again.  Thanks, Ehire, and good luck to you in Milwaukie.

I also heard that one of my favorite ex-Giants players, Ryan Vogelsong, signed a minor-league deal with the Twins.  I’m so happy he’s able to continue playing baseball.  I love that guy!  And I’m sure he’ll continue to battle, giving it his all and surprising people.  Keep on going, Vogey!  Wishing you the best.  And all the best to your lovely wife Nicole as well.

I heard on KNBR about a study that was done on the effects of jet lag on baseball players.  At first I said, “DUH jet lag affects baseball players!” but some of the results were interesting.  They found the offense of jet-lagged home teams is much more affected than that of jet-lagged away teams, and eastward travel had more negative effects on home teams than on away teams.  Negative effects on offense were related to base running, such as stolen bases, number of doubles and triples, and hitting into more double plays.  Pitchers were especially affected, giving up more home runs.  This effect was large enough to erase the home field advantage for the pitcher.  The other weird thing is that there are worse ill effects from eastward jet lag than westward jet lag.  If this is true, our boys, who are usually travelling eastward to games, would be at a disadvantage.  But of course, they are amazing, and they do well for us regardless!!  Pretty interesting stuff after all.  Wonder how much they spent for that study, though.  As a result, you may see teams sending starting pitchers to away games ahead of the rest of the team in order to allow the jet lag to wear off.

I have a fun video to share with you.  Bruce Bochy did this piece with Yahoo Sports where he opened a pack of 25-year-old baseball cards and commented on each of the guys.  Man, he knows everyone!  It was so cool because he had stories about almost every single one.  Listening to the interview I realized how much I miss that guy!  Here is the interview.

Also came across a heart-warming baseball story that I wanted to share.  It’s not about the Giants but the San Diego Padres.  The story involves pitcher Matt Lachappa.  He was drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft by the Padres and played Class A ball for them in Rancho Cucamonga.  In April 1996, while warming up for a relief appearance, he stopped and clutched his chest and then fell to the ground.  The team’s trainer got to him quickly and performed CPR for 20 minutes until help arrived.  Surprisingly at such a young age, Lachappa had suffered a heart attack.  He survived, but the lack of oxygen to his brain for that period took its toll, leaving him unable to walk and slowing his speech.  Of course, sadly, Matt could no longer play baseball, plus he would be burdened with hefty medical bills if he lost his insurance from the team.  But Priscilla Oppenhiemer, director of minor league operations at the time, wasn’t going to let that happen.  She asked why the team couldn’t continue to offer Lachappa a contract with insurance benefits each year, and she got no resistance.  So to this day, Matt Lachappa is signed to a minor league contract with the Padres and continues to have his medical bills paid through the team.  That’s a great story right there.  Baseball people take care of their own!

I can finally count the days to FanFest on my fingers!!  It’s only 10 days away!  Can’t wait!  I wonder if the guys that are going to the World Baseball Classic will be wearing their countries’ jerseys again this time.  And I’m hoping that Angel and I can score that Peet’s orange mug that we barely missed out on last year!  Will be so wonderful to be in my happy place and see my boys again.  I’ll keep my ears open for any late off-season news for you, though there’s not much time left for any major moves.  Let me know if any of you are going to FanFest and we can try and meet up.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING MY BOYS AGAIN!!

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