Praising Sabes 

OK, unbelievers, it's time to repent. All Brian Sabean's off-season moves are working so far. The '06 Giants are built not for speed or power but for depth, and so far it's working. No Niekro? Mark Sweeney, say hello to this 2-0 fastball from Jose Valverde. No Benitez? Tim Worrell will pitch the ninth and a little bit extra. Steve Finley, fourth outfielder: I like the sound of that.

Jamie Wright is warming hearts with his life story, "Sinker Boy From Scrap Heap, Ark." In Noah Lowry's absence, the emergency fifth starters (Hennessey, Fassero) have filled in admirably. Even backup catcher Todd Greene has paid off: two starts, five hits.

I still wouldn't mind Carlos Delgado hitting third.

And I'm not backing away from yesterday's grumble: the pitchers' abysmal BB/K rates must improve, and the bats must come to life for this team to win consistently. A little dry desert air seemed to help with the latter problem. Being able to take regular batting practice should help, too.

Billy Beane's famous dictum is that in April and May you evaluate what you have, and in June and July you make adjustments. If the middle relief continues to flounder and Benitez doesn't come back strong, I don't think Sabes will wait for summer to make changes.

Despite the abysmal outing by Tyler Walker (would Tampa Bay even want him at this point?), the pitchers showed encouraging signs. Fassero pitched 4 strong innings but fell apart when asked to squeeze out another. Bad call by Felipe. Taschner wasn't great, but he should have been out of his inning without a run scoring -- the ball Hudson hit to left was catchable by anyone other than a limping, wheezing Bonds. Correia looked excellent. Why he wasn't the first option out of the bullpen (to start the fifth, ideally) is a head-scratcher.

One last note: Vizquel's at-bat in the eighth that allowed Sweeney to hit his two-out, game-tying home run reminded me of a game late last year in which Livan Hernandez walked Bonds in the ninth inning in front of Moises Alou, who promptly hit a two-out, 3-run homer to win the game. But Omar started the rally with a walk.



I just saw this headline: Nationals GM Bowden arrested, charged with DUI. I assume the "D" stands for "Dealing Brad Wilkerson for Alfonso Soriano."


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