The New York Mets (12-16) will take on the defending champion San Francisco Giants (13-15) for the first time in 2011. The Giants haven’t quite looked much like champions this season, but then again, Brian Wilson, Pablo Sandoval, Santiago Casilla, Barry Zito, Mark DeRosa, Cody Ross, and Andres Torres have all already missed time. In addition, Aubrey Huff, Miguel Tejada, Cody Ross, and Madison Bumgarner have struggled mightily. To preview the interesting match-up, I chatted with Ezekiel Escobar, the lead blogger at Frisco Fastball, to exchange a series six pack.
1. Were you in favor of letting Brandon Belt make the opening day roster?
I was honestly torn. He had been working with JT Snow for quite some time on his defense, so I was never worried about that. In fact, he’s the best defensive the Giants have in the system outside of Travis Ishikawa. I was slightly concerned with his offense though. In due time, he’d figure it out – but I wasn’t expecting Buster Posey part II and for him to come up mashing. Since the demotion, he’s been tearing up AAA so, it’s clear he’s ready/on the cusp of being ready so I expect to see him again soon, especially with the amount of injuries the Giants are racking up.
2. There have been some whisperings that Belt will be back in the majors soon–but as an outfielder. Are the Giants pushing the youngster a little too much?
I don’t think so. He has had a meteoric rise through the farm system, but, he’s clubbed the cover off the ball at every level he’s been at sans the MLB. Belt’s original position actually was as an outfielder, so he’s pretty comfortable with the position and he’ll be much better defensively than Aubrey Huff in the outfield. Putting all of your stock in Pat Burrell or Aaron Rowand is quite risky (not to mention the lingering injury of Andres Torres) so, he should find room in the outfield when he does come back up. He might not be a starter every day, but, I could see him getting 4-5 starts a week, filling in in the outfield and 1B.
3. Pablo Sandoval looked to be back on track before his injury–how much will he be missed?
So much. So, so much. Beyond being one of (if not the best) offensive players the Giants have, his defense at the hot corner was fantastic. It’s a pretty significant blow – but if there is a positive, I guess it’s that it happened now – not in July.
4. If Brian Wilson were to get re-injured, which Giant reliever would you hand the ball to in the ninth?
Most likely Sergio Romo. He’s been working on a new pitch to add into his arsenal as has taken a touch of the frisbee out of his slider that made it hang a little more often than you’d prefer. The 0.56 WHIP is a lovely change from Brian Wilson’s heart attack saves.
5. Does Aaron Rowand deserve a roster spot (even though his hitting has been somewhat passable so far)?
I’m not a big fan of Aaron, but, he has done well enough to deserve one….for now. Can he sustain it? I’d be lying if I said I thought he could but I’m hoping he proves me wrong and does. One oddity though with Rowand is how horrible he’s hit in his career at AT&T Park. Granted, it’s not a great hitters park but his career average in San Francisco is just terrible compared to his averages elsewhere. Not to sound like his pusher or anything, but, I actually think he’d fill in well for a few National League teams if a trade did come along, especially since the Giants would most likely need to cover a large portion of his salary.
6. [Besides Belt] Which Giants prospect are you most excited about, and when will we see him in the big leagues?
Outside of Belt, I’m excited to see starting pitcher Zach Wheeler. Wheeler is still pretty young, currently 21, and pitching for the Giants A affiliate in San Jose. He’s still raw (6th pick in the 2009 draft) but he has some electric stuff and could project to be a top level starter – probably not an ace, but #2 for sure assuming all pans out. He’s most likely a few years out still however, but certainly looks pretty promising.