The Woody Pool

Looking past the Brewers for a moment, which we've all been taught never to do, there are a couple things in particular to watch this weekend as the Dodgers come to town.

First is the return of Jason Schmidt. Press reports have him on track to start Friday night. Assuming he's healthy, he will be a huge boost to the Giants. Opponents are hitting .316/.379/.440 against them, and the bullpen's shagged out. Herges and Felix have pitched in 5 of the first 7 games. Ouch. Wednesday's starter is likely to be either Franklin or Brower, which means the Estrella-less bullpen will be even shorter-handed the next couple days. Hang in there, guys, and pray for at least 7 strong innings from Hermanson tonight. If the residents of Stalingrad can hold out through the winter against the Nazis, the Giants bullpen can certainly hold down the fort for a few more days, no? OK, flawed analogy.

Schmidt might not bring instant relief, though. He threw 75 pitches in a minor league game the other night; that's the extent of his tune-up, so he'll likely be on a strict pitch count.

That brings us to the second thing to watch: who gets bumped when Schmidt is activated? This is going to be a tough one. Given Schmidt's limited durability this early, I'd be surprised if a reliever is sent down. Twelve is a good number for another week or two. If one is sent down, though, it's likely to be Walker or Aardsma. If not a pitcher, then either Torcato or the invisible Cody Ransom will take the long walk. I don't think Cody has had a plate appearance yet. Torcato has looked solid as the lefty pinch hitter; Alou's been singing his praises. With Feliz able to man the emergency shortstop position, I wouldn't bet against Ransom being the odd man out.

Problem is, he's out of options so he'd have to clear waivers. Therefore, I, El Lefty Malo, seer of visions, predict Ransom is traded for a handful of magic beans before Schmidt comes back. These beans will grow into a single-A marginal outfield prospect named Jorge Gutierrez, who will change his name to Ramon Jorge, age three years, hurt his shoulder, and become a first-base/DH type with a lifetime batting average of .218.

Sorry, wrong vision. I see David Aardsma sent down to Norwich.

There's another thing to watch for. I call it the Woody Pool. Kirk Rueter has thrown 11 innings this year, walked five, and struck out zero. How many innings will he pitch before he records his first strikeout, and who will it be?

I will kick off the Woody Pool thus: 15 innings/Milton Bradley (who will then fling his batting helmet into the box seats only to see Lou Seal fling it back, sending Bradley into an unholy rage in which he strips down to his jockstrap, breaks his bat in half and takes off in pursuit of the Pillsbury Wharf Rat).


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