Following The Money Goes All The Way To High School

I rejoined my high school baseball team, the El Cerrito Gauchos, as an assistant coach this year. I was helping out the guy who coached me throughout high school, and was pretty much content with reliving my high school baseball experience while also learning the basics of coaching a high school team.

Our team was good, not great. We were full of hard workers but no legitimate college prospects. But, as has been the case the past few years, a well-coached El Cerrito team exceeded everyone's expectations, got second in the ACCAL, and made the NCS playoffs.

That's where my gripe begins.

Last year the CIF decided to expand NCS to 12 teams, which meant that a lot more teams made it to the playoffs (think college football). The seedings were a lot more arbitrary. The area of teams to pull from was much more far-flung. And then there was the money issue.

I understand that high school sports need to make money. They get sponsorships, which is fine. I'll sit through an announcement about Les Schwab Tires in between innings.

What I don't agree with is the need to charge admission. Again, I'm all for making money. I understand that it needs to be done. But the requirement of a field to enclosed, to have a single entrance from which to bar admission without payment, is detrimental to the players.

Why, you might ask?

These kids are in high school. They're not used to traveling. Last year, the Gauchos went from El Cerrito (between Richmond and Berkeley) up Arcata High school. That's 276 miles.

El Cerrito had the better record. But because Arcata won their league, and El Cerrito came in second, our team had to make the trek. That's because of the seeding, so it's a little more understandable.

This year, however, the Gauchos came in second again, but the only losses were to ACCAL champs Alameda and a couple non-conference games. Yet they were still seeded behind teams that had worse records, were sixth out of eight teams, and in some cases, just not very good.

We also had to travel. Again. To a lower-seeded teams' field. Albeit, it was against Moreau Catholic in Hayward, but with no offense intended to Moreau, their field was a piece of crap.

The infield grass was patchy. The dirt was extremely dry. The outfield was full of gopher holes. There was no foul territory down the right-field line due to the fact that the right-field line was also the fence for a local cemetery. The left-field fence is only 280 feet away, while right field actually goes about 390 feet to the corner and slopes up a hill for the last 20.

On the other hand, our field, Cerrito Vista, is definitely the best field in the conference, and arguably one of the best fields in the East Bay. The infield grass is watered and cut regularly, and it slopes slightly upward at the foul lines to give us the perfect bunting surface, which we used liberally this season. The outfield grass is slow, but big and definitely coverable.

But there's no fence. There's no fence, there's no gate, and there's no point of entry that can be controlled for ticket sales. And because of that, El Cerrito is not allowed to host NCS games, and hasn't for the past few years.

So instead, because North Coast needs to be able to charge people to watch high school kids play baseball, a pop-up that would have been an out at home drifted lazily over the fence in the first inning for a three-run homer. A bunt that would have stayed fair rolled foul down the sloping third-base line.

Granted, El Cerrito didn't play well enough to win. Can't blame it all on the field, because sometimes you just don't deserve to win. But that game should not have been played in Hayward. Just like last year's shouldn't have been played at Arcata.

With all the hype about college players being exploited for money, is there any danger in speculating that the same might be trickling down to high school?


Return of the Bengie? I'll Pass, And You Should Too

Sabean: Hey Bengie...sooooo...how've you been? (looks at the ground)

Bengie: I've been good. How's the new guy? Is he still all young and exciting like he was last year? Last year when you sent me to Texas through text message?

Sabean: Yeeeeahhh...actually that's what I wanted to talk to you about. See, he's kind of under the weather, and I was just wondering...if you're not doing anything...(looks up in the sky)


Sabean: It's not really that serious...it's just for like...a couple months...it's not even a big deal...

Bengie: Heck yeah! (dances a little bit, then gets tired)


Really? I know Buster Posey's injury kind of turned us all inside out and maybe bamboozled us a little bit, but bring back Bengie Molina?

Asking Bengie Molina to come back is like asking your ex-girlfriend to prom after you dumped her because your new date caught the flu the day before.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Molina. And when he wasn't clogging up the bases or the lineup, he was a great guy. Good personality in the clubhouse, definitely handled the pitching staff amazingly, a good player all around.

But Molina hasn't played baseball AT ALL since...what was it...OH RIGHT when the Giants won the World Series, and Bengie Molina played for the other team. And if recent photo evidence is any indicator, I can tell you one thing: he hasn't gotten any smaller.

Molina was already on the ropes as a major-leaguer when the Giants sent him away to Texas last year. Sure, he wasn't terrible, but the sunset was fast approaching and he didn't have the wheels to outrun it. They traded him away, and brought in Buster Posey, The Amazing.

Now Buster is hurt. And Giants fans are scrambling for something better than Eli The Gray and Chris The Stewart combo that we're currently saddled with.

Personally, I'd love to see Pudge Rodriguez in a Giants uniform. When the Giants were deciding what to do with Molina (re-sign/let go) and with Posey (start in majors/start at AAA), I wanted Pudge to come in so bad.

But then the Nats scooped him to up to tutor their young catchers. All 17 of them. And now I think they're ready.

So offer the prospects. Marginal prospects. They've got them. And it won't cost them Zack Wheeler or Thomas Neal to get Pudge. It's not like he's is tearing it up right now, but Rodriguez can still play the field, throw out runners, and not be Eli Whiteside. I love you, Eli, but you're not an everyday catcher, and I'm pretty sure you know that.

Pudge is also that kind of clubhouse guy that Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria were last year that I think is lacking in 2011, even though Tejada is supposedly all up on that. I saw Pudge in the locker room when I was working for Comcast SportsNet Washington in DC and he's a real presence in there.

It would be a good pick-me up for the Giants. It worked last year, and instead of putting pressure on young guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and even Manny Burriss to be the new clubhouse contributors, you could have a guy in there who knows how to handle a team.


Bringing Back Belt More Emotional Than Baseball-Related

Dear Buster. See above. Get there soon.
It's all over San Francisco, and it's not pretty: Buster Posey is broken.

We're not exactly sure how broken, but it's bad enough for us Giants fans to look back at those times only days ago where he was "only" taking foul balls off the face. The only news we're getting out of the Giants is pretty much: "Well, we're pretty sure we don't have to amputate." That's bad.

Andrew Baggarly said yesterday that the mood in the clubhouse was "funereal" after a game in which the Giants staged one of their biggest late-inning comebacks in recent memory, had a huge breakthrough hit from Aubrey Huff, and then promptly lost both their first one-run game at home this season and their undisputed clubhouse captain in Posey.

In the past couple days, the Giants have gone from high-flying, first-place owning, 9-in-a-row at home winning, unstoppable in close games, sweeping the A's and everyone else who dared to venture into the ballpark at Third and King, to losing their leader (Posey, lower body injury), their Bullet (Darren Ford, ankle), and their littlest Giant (Mike Fontenot, hamstring) in the span of three days.

And then comes the news over the wire today: the Giants are bringing back Brandon Belt.

Why, you might ask? From a baseball perspective, it doesn't exactly make sense.

With Posey, Ford, Fontenot, Mark DeRosa, and Pablo Sandoval out, it looks like the Giants need more than a first baseman/outfielder. Can Brandon Belt play shortstop? If so, great move. Alas, #lefthanded.

**UPDATE: Catcher Chris Stewart and shortstop Brandon Crawford are also being called up. Assuming Fontenot, Ford, and Posey all going to DL.**

And then there's the Aubrey Huff question. With Belt back in the majors, where does Huff go? The outfield as of late has been playing well. Cody Ross, Andres Torres, and Nate Schierholtz make a great starting lineup out there. Pat Burrell is adjusting well to playing off the bench. Aaron Rowand is still on the team somewhere.

We also know that, if Belt was going to be brought up, it wasn't going to be to pinch-hit. Earlier this year, Belt was here to start. That's that. No more rookie experience, learning from the bench. If Belt's on the team, he's playing every day.

That means he's playing first base. Yes, Belt did play 26 games in the outfield, but again, the outfielders for the Giants are producing a lot of the offense lately.

And hopefully, this time around we'll see more of this, and less of this. Belt has made adjustments. He stopped showing the pitcher his numbers, which gave him more coverage on the inner half that Major League pitchers were exploiting.

But to lose Posey is more than just a baseball blow to the Giants. They lost one of their franchise players, the reigning Rookie of the Year, the master of the pitching staff, a clubhouse leader, AND their cleanup hitter. In one play.

Taking out Darren Ford is a huge emotional hit as well. Speed is exciting. That's how the Giants win that game against the A's/Padres/anyone who tried to get Darren Ford out. Losing Fontenot, who kept this team afloat as the only 5'8 third-place hitter in all of baseball history, is also big. Not only is that a utility spot gone, but that little scrapper and his flowing locks are popular in the dugout.

That's why Belt is coming back. No, Belt is not going to be an emotional leader in the clubhouse. But if you think that his return doesn't inspire players like Huff and Burrell to step up like they did last year, you're dead wrong.

With Posey gone, this is Aubrey Huff's clubhouse again. With Posey gone, Aubrey Huff has to start pounding out hits because his team needs it. With Posey gone, Aubrey Huff is going to be the leader of this team, or they're going to flounder for the rest of the season.

Belt, and now Crawford as we've learned, is going to be instrumental to the Giants success in 2011. We knew it when he made the team on Opening Day, and we know it here on May 26. Again, he won't be the leader of this team.

He'll be expected to produce. He'll be expected to drive in runs. He'll be expected to be a rookie who makes people forget about the first month of the season by being an amazing complement to the veterans like Huff and Burrell.

And more importantly, he'll inject some energy into a dejected Giants team.

The Giants are already dealing with life without Pablo Sandoval, whose return from injury looms even more important than ever. They dealt with the losses of catalysts Andres Torres and Cody Ross earlier this year. They didn't have Brian Wilson for the first week or so of the season. And remember Barry Zito?

We've seen that team chemistry plays a huge part in baseball, and last year's Giants team had fantastic chemistry. They exemplify the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" idiom. Look at the stats, and no one really pops out. But they're in first place.

Brandon Belt? I hope you're listening. You've got some big shoes to fill. But as you know, if any team can figure out how to do it, it's our boys, the San Francisco Giants.

We challenge, we don't choke.


Giants Bench Gets the Win, What To Do With Jeremy Affeldt, Manny Being Manny, Bochy's Bullet(s)

That's happy celebration!
The Giants bench really picked up the bullpen today. Like really. With Mark DeRosa out, Freddy Sanchez with a (supposedly) ailing knee, and Aaron Rowand jamming up his back, the Giants bench was remarkably thin only a couple days ago. 

But every Giants that came in today played a huge role in getting over that 2-run deficit in the late innings. Rowand didn't do so hot, but Manny Burriss comes in and pinch-runs for Pat Burrell in the seventh, has a couple great defensive plays, and then gets the game-winning hit. 

Nate Schierholtz had a huge, huge at-bat against Grant Balfour in the eighth, working a 3-2 count before homering on seemingly the only mistake Balfour has made in the past three weeks. Bruce Bochy finally decides that Darren Ford might be able to hit in this league and he promptly singles, steals second, and scores on the single by Burriss. 

Rowand, Burriss, Schierholtz and Ford. Sounds a lot better than DeRosa, Velez, Bowker, Ishikawa to me. A LOT better. 

Again, even with the injuries they've had, the Giants right now are a very deep team, and that will bode well for them later in the season.


Also, 18 sell-outs at home. Bandwagon fans? If so, WHO CARES? The Giants are winning every game those fans come to! They might take away from the experience a little bit when they talk about how they remember "all the way back" when Bengie Molina was playing, but the atmosphere is palpable, the baseball is exciting, and none of them left early this whole series. 


What's going on with Jeremy Affeldt? Brian Sabean looked like a genius when he locked up Affeldt through 2012 for only $9.5M, but as we've seen time and time again, middle relief is expendable. I'm not saying the Giants should cut Affeldt, but he was fantastic in 2009, regressed heavily in 2010 but recovered when it counted, and has started off 2011 in a similarly underwhelming fashion. 

WHIP? ERA? BB/9? All up. All way up. I don't know what it is. When he's good, he's flat-out dirty. We saw it last year in the playoffs. If there's no Jeremy Affeldt, the Giants might not get past that a@#hole Chase Utley and the Phillies when Jonathan Sanchez goes down. 

But when he's bad, it's like today. Affeldt gives up a single, a sac bunt, a double, and a single. Sergio Romo and Ramon Ramirez have ERAs under 1.50, and Javier Lopez is at a miniscule 1.06, but Bochy still goes to Affeldt, and for the third time this year, he's blown the lead. 

If it keeps getting worse, put Marc Kroon on watch. The Giants don't need another lefty, but they do need another late-inning stopper.


Manny Burriss is a class act. That guy came up a couple years ago, was heralded as a future star, and then broke his most valuable asset: his foot. Then he got it repaired, rehabbed, came back as a monster in Spring Training, and broke it again. When you're built for speed, and then your break your foot legging out a triple, that's just bad luck. 

He didn't have the power to stick, and when he was playing for the major league club, he just couldn't hit. And then he buckled down, figured something out in Fresno, and has come back with a vengeance to make this club. He was hitting .361 at Fresno and had 16 steals. 

He's playing outfield. He's playing middle infield. And hey, if they really, really need him to, he's been taking grounders at short. It's like Eugenio Velez. 

Sorry, let me rephrase that. It's like Eugenio Velez, BUT 1000 TIMES BETTER.

Remember when the Giants tried to make Velez into middle infield/outfield/pinch-runner? That didn't work out so well. He was terrible in the field and had no idea how to run the bases. And he was still in "prospect mode" when he was 28 years old. 

Burriss has figured out a way to contribute off the bench, and maybe its the language barrier or something, but he seems like he wants to contribute, unlike Velez ever did. And he's 26. He's young. He's under team control. He can spell Freddy Sanchez and Fontenot up the middle. He's good.


Bruce Bochy has nicknamed Darren Ford "The Bullet" this season. Not just because he's fast, but because he's that one bullet he can use late in the game. So what's he going to call Manny Burriss? "The Other Bullet?"

They're both very fast. In seven games at Fresno, Darren Ford went 7-7 in stolen base attempts. In 21 games, Manny Burriss went 16-19 swiping bags. In all, the Grizzlies have been running wild, stealing 83 bases in 44 games. That's not a typo. Thats almost two steals per game. The next highest total is Reno, with 52. 

Anyways, Burriss and Ford have grown very close. They're always together inside and outside the clubhouse. They're this year's edition of the Giants bro-mantic comedy that starred Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell last year. So it seemed only fitting that today Burriss knocked in Ford from second to win the game. And it's about time they both got the chance to show that they can do more than just run.


Tuesday Game Recap: See Monday

It was a close game. An ace was struggling. On Monday it was Tim Lincecum. Today it was Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Giants made an offensive breakthrough. It looked like the terrible demons of Coors Field had all of a sudden been exorcised. Monday it was Andres Torres and Nate Schierholtz hitting homeruns to put the Giants up. Tuesday it was Pat Burrell turning a 3-0 green light into a two-run double.

The Rockies got the leadoff man on in the next inning. Things got ugly.

On Tuesday, Tim Lincecum didn't set his feet, didn't communicate with his middle infielders, and didn't get a grip on the ball. Miguel Tejada didn't exactly do his job either, but the result was an error on the pitcher and an extra base instead of a 1-6-3 double play.

Today, even after manager Bruce Bochy came out and undoubtedly reminded Jonathan Sanchez of his coverage duties on a bunt by Alfredo Amezaga, Sanchez looked like he was just going to let Buster Posey make the play. He proceeded to rush and throw the ball down the line. Instead of second and third with one out, it was first and third with no outs, and a run scored.

After that, wheels proceeded to fall off whatever bus the Giants were riding on. On Monday Carlos Gonzalez showed why San Francisco hates Oakland for trading away all their prospects to NL West teams (Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Dan Haren anyone?). On Tuesday Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler remembered that they hate the the Giants.

The team clearly just got Coors'd in a ridiculous two-game series that was frustrating enough to make you think that the rest of the season at Coors might be like that. If there was another game in this series, it made you feel like that game would somehow involve Dinger and Matt Cain getting in a fist fight, with Bruce Bochy tearing his MCL separating them and half the bullpen being suspended.

Luckily we get to escape. To Dodger Stadium. Great.


Jonathan Sanchez now has more extra-base hits in his career than every other pitcher on the Giants roster except for Matt Cain, and has as many total bases as Mark DeRosa.


Mark DeRosa is now 0-everything since coming off the disabled list. San Francisco is paying him $12M for 13 RBIs so far. The Giants have no plans. Can Brandon Belt play third base?


Javier Lopez had held lefties to 3-30 before today's game. I'm calling it bad variance.


Yeah, Yeah, Giants Baseball = Torture, Or Whatever

See Cody? When you hold on to the bat, you win!
Eventually, playing with fire will get us burned. Eventually. Until then, party on.

The Giants have five walkoff wins in 13 home games. Brian Wilson is now leading the pitching staff in wins. But hey, there's not much more exciting than a walk-off win, and the Giants keep punching them out like they've done it for years.

Whereas in 2010, when Giants baseball was torture and it was standard to spend many a night curled up in the fetal position cursing broken-bat triples and hanging sliders, 2011 has been different. The Giants aren't storming through the schedule thus far (let's face, they're no Cleveland Indians), but for some reason, close games just aren't as nail-biting as they were last year.

A World Series title is a helluva confidence booster. So is a two-time Cy Young Award winner looking better than he ever has. And so is an All-Star closer adding the dirtiest pitch since the afore-mentioned Cy Young Award winner's changeup came on the scene to his repertoire.

And when you look up at the standings and see that the Giants are a half-game out of first place despite a distinct lack of offense from their categorical leaders from last year (Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey), injuries to three and a half starters (Andres Torres, Pablo Sandoval, Cody Ross, Mark DeRosa?), and Madison Bumgarner being 0-5, you can't help but be a little pleased.

Also, I loved him when he was on the A's, but seriously, when people around baseball say that Miguel Tejada is the worst regular position player in the league, I cannot, for the life of me, think of something to say in his defense. Mark DeRosa didn't have the best welcome back to the lineup, but I still would rather have him in there over Tejada.


When it comes to the roster moves that have been made so far IN SEASON in 2011, I cannot complain in the slightest about any of them. 

Today's decisions to send down Manny Burriss and Ryan Rohlinger were also hard, but as many people pointed out, and as the game played out tonight, keeping Darren Ford is just necessary. For games like this. Because in tight games, being able to pinch-run with Darren Ford is exponentially better than pinch-running with Tim Lincecum. And as Ford has shown us time and time again, speed wins games. Simple as that. 


By the way, Cody Ross is back. When do the Phillies come to town?


Here's a link to Andrew Baggarly's piece that features the newfound ace-ness that is Big Time Timmy Jim has released on the baseball world. I, as a fan, approve. And I need some money because I haven't purchased A Band of MiSFits yet.


Headed to the yard with the family tonight as kind of a graduation present. My THIRD Filipino Heritage Night, but the FIRST that we've actually got the Filipino Heritage Night tickets. Can't wait to pick up my "one piece of filipino-themed merchandise." I hope it's a boat!

I've already surpassed my number of AT&T visits from last season, so here's to keeping the winning streak alive.


Fact-checking Brian Sabean's Trade History

In a recent tweet, Sports Illustrated writer Jon Heyman claimed that Giants GM Brian Sabean doesn't like dealing prospects.

This tweet came A DAY after former Giants prospect Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins. So, Jon, let's revisit some of my favorite Sabean prospect trades.

I'll get the obvious out of the way first: Brian Sabean has changed. After years of trading prospects to build around Barry Bonds, the Giants have changed up their strategy considerably, but that's not to say that Sabean i totally against trading prospects.

Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Belt, Jonathan Sanchez, and Matt Cain represent players that have or have not had trade rumors swirl around them in their Giants careers. And at some point in his career, Sabes may very well have pulled the trigger on some of the deals.
Cain for Fielder. Sanchez for Fielder. Lincecum for Rios. Sanchez for (major league shortstop). We've all heard them. Yet I'm pretty sure we're all glad that none of those has happened so far. Anyways, on to the ones that have happened.

So, except in a select few cases, Sabean has done very well in recent years both picking up fringe prospects that have contributed and dumping prospects that may have had value but are on their way out of the good graces of the Giants scouting department. In no particular order:

1. Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser, and Francisco Liriano to the Twins for AJ Pierzynski (2003):

One of the biggest WTFFFFF moments of my baseball life. I realized this trade was wrong when it happened. I was 14. Pierzynski was a joke, a cancer, and a rental. Nathan emerged as one of the best closers in baseball. Boof Bonser still has as funny name, and is pitching in the Mets minor-league system. Liriano, as stated, just threw a no-hitter and is one of the best "if only he was healthy all the time" pitchers in the American League. Prospects traded, Giants lose.

2. Tim Alderson to the Pirates for Freddy Sanchez (2009)

This was hailed as another Nathan/Liriano trade, except this time the bad guy was an injured but still very friendly Freddy Sanchez, far from being the a-hole that Pierzynski was. Alderson was the number four prospect in the Giants system at the time.

Then Alderson put up this line since joining the Pirates: 14-11, 5.34 ERA, 1.473 WHIP

And Freddy Sanchez did this to Cliff Lee, and all was forgiven.

Prospect traded, Giants win this trade.

3. Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios to the Pirates for Jason Schmidt and Jon Vander Wal (2001):

Vogelsong was a promising prospect, but the Giants won this trade too, as Vogelsong lost a year to injury, and Schmidt became the ace of the Giants staff. Giants win further by signing Vogelsong to a minor-league deal this year and having him perform well so far.

4. Jason Grilli and Nate Bump to the Florida Marlins for Livan Hernandez (1999)

Yes, part of the Marlins firesales, but Hernandez was the MVP of the '97 World Series, and the Giants got 746 innings of 4.44 ERA ball, including a few Opening Day starts, for 181 innings of middle relief. Giants win this one for sure.

5. Mike Villano, Joe Fontenot and Mick Pageler to the Marlins for Robb Nen (1997)

Another Marlins firesale pickup, Nen was dominant for the Giants until an arm injury sidelined him for good in 2003. Villano never made it to the majors. Fontenot never made it to the majors. Pageler never made it to the majors. Shades of the Dennis Eckersley trade, in which none of the A's players given to the Cubs made it? I think yes. Giants win.

6. Scott Barnes to the Cleveland Indians for Ryan Garko (2009)

Giants lose. Nobody knew who Scott Barnes was, but Ryan Garko was terrible.

7. Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert to the Seattle Mariners for Randy Winn (2005)

Torrealba has developed into a starting backstop that has killed the Giants. Foppert was a great story but just never made it out of the injury woods. Randy Winn hit really well for two years and then forgot that he hit really well for two years. I'd say this is a wash.

There are a few more trades that we could look at, but I just don't know where this whole "doesn't like trading prospects" talk comes from. It's right there. He trades prospects more rarely now than before, and when he does, it usually looks pretty smart a little farther on down the road. I would more characterize is it as Sabean only dealing prospects that he knows are going downhill unless their name is Joe Nathan.


Bruce Bochy Changes Our Perceptions of Reality, Giants Win

Erry day I'm hustlin, er-er-er-erry day I'm hustlin.
I don't know how he does it, but somehow Giants manager Bruce Bochy does things with the lineup that make me think he's sipping from the cup of "Grandpa's special apple juice" a little too much. Yet time and time again, that lineup that he throws together does something that makes us shake our heads, scream at our televisions, and sip from the cup of Grandpa's special apple juice some more.

It all started with Aaron Rowand batting leadoff a couple years ago in 2009. There was no leadoff hitter on that team, so Bruce decides to put Rowand there. He subsequently hit .294 out of that spot, and is batting .276 out of the leadoff position so far in 2011, which is better than anyone would have expected and much much better than a disabled Andres Torres.

In 2010, especially during the playoff run, Bochy has seemed like he's either got the greatest "gut feeling" in the world, or actually is a robot specialized in sabremetrics that packs solid state drives of scouting reports into a size 8.5 head. Every move he made down the stretch, whether it was making a pitching change or defensive replacement, seemed to pay off.

Every time Nate Schierholtz came in there was a ball hit to him that the water buffaloes would have had no chance on. Every time Jeremy Affeldt came in he shut down both lefties and righties. Every time Darren Ford pinch-ran in September he ran. Fast.

Edgar Renteria hitting leadoff? Giants win.

Here in 2011, it's happening again. Rowand leadoff again? Makes sense, I guess. Tejada leadoff? Broke the Giants out of a slump. Starting Fontenot, Burriss, and Whiteside? How did we NOT guess that lineup would break out offensively?

Yesterday was the backbreaker. The lineup resembled a Cactus League split-squad B-team.

Rowand, Tejada. Meh. Wait, Fontenot's batting third? Mike FONTENOT? I'm sorry, but remember this picture?

You're telling me the small guy is in the three-hole for the Giants? And that the big guy is only 21? Both are a load of crap.

But it worked. Vogelsong and Burriss each had an RBI single. Schierholtz homered and scored twice. Tejada...was there too. The power-three spot produced a clutch 2-RBI single. Heck, the Mets even walked Fontenot to get to Buster Posey.

And the Giants won the game. Bruce, I don't know how you do it, but keep on keeping on.