January 2010

Pablo and Friends

The latest “Inside the Clubhouse” episode just taped here at AT&T. The star – no surprise- was Pablo Sandoval, who shared the stage with Nate Scheirholtz, batting coach Bam-Bam Meulens, trainer Dave Groeschner and host Greg Papa. 
Pablo, as you know, is one of those guys who are born to live in the spotlight. As he said when an audience member asked if he set goals for each season, “I just go play and have some fun.”
He did, however, reveal one goal for 2010. Having lost around 12 pounds so far in the off-season, he wants to steal more bases. So when Greg Papa joked about going for 20-20 (home runs and stolen bases), Pablo nodded.
“That’s my one goal,” he said. “I told Groesch. Twenty-twenty.”
I asked him afterward if he was serious. “Yeah, I think I can do it,” he said.
He confirmed that he had gained just a pound during his time in Venezuela playing winter ball and eating his mother’s cooking. 
“One pound, and it’s muscle!” he said.
He also returned to the states with a new look – a Mohawk. He joked with Groeschner on stage that he ought to get one, too.
“Take us to the World Series,” Groeschner said, “and I’ll do it.”
When Meulens talked about getting players to be more patient at the plate, he clarified that he was basically leaving Pablo alone. “I’d be crazy to mess with him,” Meulens said. But Pablo said that wasn’t true. 
“This year I’m going to be different,” Pablo said. “I’m going to be more patient. I’ve been working on it in winter ball with Bam-Bam.”
The result? He hit .395 in the regular season and .477 in the playoffs. 
“I want to narrow his zone,” Meulens said, “but I don’t want to take away his aggressiveness.”
Schierholtz also is making a big change at the plate: He is wearing batting gloves for the first time in his life.
“I never used them growing up,” he said. “Just grabbed a little dirt and go. But in Puerto Rico (in winter ball), I had 75 at-bats with gloves. I’m getting used to them slowly. I’ve gone through a lot of different brands to get the ones I want.”
He’s also been working on recognizing pitchers more successfully and working within his own strike zone. He hopes it will produce more home runs. 
“I have more power than what I’ve shown,” he said.
When asked if he had superstitions, Nate said he eats the same thing every day if he’s on a streak. 
“Cheetos,” he said, smiling, “have a lot of hits in them.”
Pablo, sitting next to Nate, smiled and raised his eyebrow, stealing a glance at his trainer.
“There are a lot of hits in bananas, too,” Groeschner said.
Photos from Inside the Clubhouse:
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 Greg Papa, Pablo Sandoval, Dave Grosechner

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Greg Papa, Nate Schierholtz, Pablo Sandoval, Hensley Muelens, Dave Groeschner
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Top of the Class

It is the nature of diehard fans to be impatient. This is a good thing. They push a team’s management. Where’s the long-ball hitter we need? Where’s the rocket-armed reliever? Let’s make a deal, and let’s do it now.

But in the labyrinth of offices inside any major-league baseball organization, alongside the up-to-the-minute-what-can-we-do-now executives and analysts, are the futurists. They’re the ones constructing the team we’ll see next year and five years from now.

No team in recent years has planned for the future better than the Giants.

That’s what Baseball America concluded in its just-published analysis of the last four draft classes.

Here’s what Baseball America’s Jim Callis reported yesterday:

“We grade every draft from 2005-08 in the new Prospect Handbook, and no team outdid San Francisco’s 3.50 GPA. Vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow ran those first three efforts, with scouting director John Barr coming aboard in 2008.

“The Giants’ signature pick was stealing two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum after nine teams passed on him in 2006. San Francisco gets an A for Lincecum alone in 2006, though they also found fringe big league infielders Emmanuel Burriss (sandwich round), Ryan Rohlinger (sixth), Brian Bocock (ninth) and Matt Downs (36th).

“San Francisco was the only club to earn three As, also getting top grades in 2007 for Madison Bumgarner (first), with some help from righthander Tim Alderson (first), second baseman Nick Noonan (sandwich) and big league surprise Dan Runzler (fifth), and in 2008. That last group could be San Francisco’s best hitting crop in years, led by Buster Posey (first), third baseman Conor Gillaspie (sandwich), outfielder Roger Kieschnick (third) and shortstop Brandon Crawford (fourth).”

As fans, we don’t have to be patient. That’s not our jobs. But it’s good know it’s somebody’s job, and that the Giants happen to have some of the best people doing it.

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