Monday, April 10, 2006

The Indispensables - Part III

by SonDog

I can't tell you how excited I am to see how the postings on Mile High Ramblings have increased by such an exponential level with the addition of two new writers. Wait... what? If I had any sort of power to wield whatsoever, I would wield it like a wielding power-hungry wielder. Sadly, there is no such wielding that will take place. But, I will say that DMo has promised to do some posting upon his return from Mexico, so I'm looking forward to his expletive-filled rant about what it feels like to be 27 on a beach filled with 19-year-old Spring Breakers. Good times.

Also, MHR received some kudos last week from's West Coast guy, Jim Caple. In an email, Caple lamented the fact that he couldn't wear man-tights in the press box, while thanking MHR for the kind words about his excellent Bonds article. Jim, if you're reading this again, keep up the West Coast stories and quality work. It's great to hear something other than Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox on a daily basis.

Speaking of things I'm sick of hearing on a daily basis... steroids. I'm so sick of it, in fact, it made me sick with a head-cold that could kill a hippopotamus on steroids. I don't want to talk about it anymore. I don't want to hear about it anymore. I don't want to read about it anymore. In fact, if I hear the word "steroids" one more time in the next hour, I will run through my office butt-naked while doing a jig straight from the 1980's classic movie, Breakin'. That's not a threat, it's a promise.

Steroids? You wanna talk about steroids? Hold me back brotha, I gotta go BREAKIN'!

On to the last installment of The Indispensables -- A countdown from the least valuable to the most valuable player on the 2006 San Francisco Giants' roster (here's Part I and Part II in case you missed it or have absolutely nothing better to do than read a post from a month ago):

8) Matt Cain - Starting Pitcher -- Pitching will be the proverbial key to the 1947 Wiley's jeep that is the 2006 San Francisco season. Management hopes Barry Bonds will play 110 - 120 games this year. Even if that wishful thinking comes true, 33% of the games will be Bondsless. As we saw last year, if this team can't pitch and they don't have Bonds, they're in trouble. 21-year-old Cain will have a bit of pressure on his shoulders in his first full major league season. However, all indications to this point (2.33 ERA in seven starts last season and a strong showing in his opener this year) show that he will handle it. That being said, you hope Felipe Alou doesn't trot him out there to throw 120 pitches every outing, a la Dusty Baker and Mark Prior/Kerry Wood. This kid has a chance to be the face of the franchise in the post-Bonds era, and his right arm is too damned good to risk. In other words, he will be important, but he's still the #4 starter, so the top-3 guys in the rotation better hold up.

7) Mike Matheney - Starting Catcher -- Matheney's defense and handling of the pitching staff are critical to the team's success. I was able to watch Matheney's pre-game stretching routine in Spring Training and I gotta tell you, no man his size should be as limber as Matheney showed in Scottsdale. With that in mind, and with J.T. Snow in Boston, Matheney becomes the heart-throb that keeps female fans interested in the Giants. And I can't believe I'm writing about this. I think Manteney's impact along with this paragraph can best be summed up by Champ Kind in Anchorman, "We need you. Hell, I need you. I'm a mess without ya. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you. I miss being near you! I miss your laugh! I miss - I miss your scent. I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together."

Or, as Brian Fantana says, "Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while."

You know, desire smells like that to some people

6) Randy Winn -- Center Field -- With Bonds in left and Mo Alou in right, Winn will need to cover more ground than any outfielder in baseball. Bonds and Alou stand a good chance of turning a lot of singles into doubles this year, so it will be up to Winn to do his best impersonation of a cheetah anytime a ball is hit out of the infield. That said, Winn also will be counted on for instant offense in the leadoff spot. It's telling that Winn is one of only two Giants signed into 2009 (Noah Lowry being the other). Hopefully his legs will last that long.

5) (This story is absolutely true. I am not making this up.) Noah Lowry -- Starting Pitcher -- While scribbling down notes for this piece during the Giants' home opener last week, I wrote of Lowry, "He's shown to be very durable. The Giants can't afford an injury to either Morris, Schmidt or Lowry if they are going to contend with the best teams in the NL. Last year, he was the only Giant to take every turn in the rotation (33 starts) while leading them in innings (204.2), wins (13), and strikeouts (172). As long as he doesn't get injured, he will make his new 4-year contract look like a steal. Plus, the Giants can't afford to have two of their top-5 players hurt at the same time." Two seconds after writing that last sentence, Lowry pulled up lame while making an 0-1 pitch to Brian Jordan. I sat in a frozen state of shock for a good five minutes, similar to the time Rocky took a piss on my bed, with me in it. Lowry was put on the DL the next day (and Rocky got his ass kicked a moment later) with an oblique injury similar to the one that kept Rich Harden out of the rotation for over a month last year. I'm blaming myself. Totally taking the blame for this one. Sorry, Noah. Totally my bad.

4) Matt Morris -- Starting Pitcher -- Morris brings a co-ace (in theory) to the Giants' rotation. His first start was rock solid, and he should... rather, he needs to do the same thing for the next 32 starts or so. Other than that, there's not much pressure on him.

3) Armando Benitez -- Closer -- The Giants haven't really had a dependable closer since 2002 when Robb Nen was throwing with a shoulder held together with duct take. Seriously, it's been an incredible black hole for this team. Even when Benitez returns, I'm not going to be completely sold on him. However, if he can produce at a level similar to his 2004 season in Florida, the Giants' bullpen becomes a team strength. I really want to believe that Benitez will be a lights-out closer, but I just have some doubt that I can't shake. I think Veronica Corningstone summed it up best in her tender moment with Ron Burgandy when she said, "Oh, Ron, there are literally thousands of men that I should be with instead, but I am 72 per cent sure that I love you!"

2) Jason Schmidt -- Ace -- Schmidt admitted in a recent article that he was bothered by the whispers he heard last year about suspected steroid use. Well, when your velocity goes from a steady 98 to a steady 90 in a matter of a couple of months, without injury, that's going to happen. The fact is that 2005 Schmidt looked nothing like the guy who set the San Francisco record for strikeouts (250) in 2004. He was less intimidating in every facet of his game. I mean, maybe it wasn't the juice. Who am I to judge? I guess we could take him at his word. I mean, it's not like he's black and approaching Babe Ruth's career total for home runs, right? Regardless, Schmidt needs to once again be the ace he used to be if the Giants have a chance to go all the way this year (his 5.79 ERA through two games isn't helping matters). He's also a free agent after the season, so it's in his best financial interest as well.

1) Barry Bonds -- Left Field -- He's pretty good. There's some little controversy surrounding him this year, or so I'm told, but it doesn't seem to bother him.

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