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3.24.2004

¿El Día de Todos Santos?

Momentum is building for Francisco Santos to make the roster on Opening Day. Tony Torcato is hitting well but has a bum shoulder; Cody Ransom is fielding well but is a bum at the plate. Santos apparently has more speed than I thought; Steve Shelby wrote me that Baseball America has in fact rated Santos with "plus" speed for a first baseman. OK, duly noted. He's probably a little better outfielder than I give him credit for. But I doubt he's the guy to put in late in the game to steal a base or to absolutely, positively score from second on a single. Also, Santos instead of Ransom in the last bench spot (Feliz, Mohr, Hammonds/Tucker and Torrealba being the others) is a serious defensive deficit.

Ah, but do they really need a light-hitting backup middle infielder? If Perez or Durham are injured or just need a day off, Feliz or Alfonzo can fill in for a day or two. If they're injured enough to be in that to-DL-or-not-to-DL limbo, that would constitute a problem. The other scenario is Neifi being lifted for a pinch-hitter; sure, Feliz can take over, but would Felipe voluntarily downgrade a key defensive position in a late, close game? Ideally, Feliz would be the starting shortstop, field adequately and hit prodigiously, then Neifi could come in and protect the lead with late-inning defensive sparkle.

(Isn't it funny how, after a winter's contemplation of Neifi at short, I'm salivating at the thought of Feliz becoming the starter there? The same Feliz who had an OBP below .300 and couldn't hit a right-hander's slider to save the national honor of the Dominican Republic? No wonder Sabean considers me part of the lunatic fringe. I'm semi-delusional.)

But if Feliz is pressed into duty at SS and 3B because the Giants lack a real backup middle infielder, then Santos makes more sense--Feliz will be too busy to play first base. Problem is, Santos bats left, too.

Speaking of lefties, I'm starting to like the Royals more and more. ¡Muchos lefties en la rotación! ¡Qué malo!






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