Actually, the kids are more than alright–the kids are good, damn good. Say it out loud–like you’re saying Bond, James Bond. It sounds way cooler when you do that. Really, really, cool if you sound like Sean Connery when you do it.
The other day I published a blog post about the GIANTS performance during this year’s Spring Training, and I cautioned everyone to take heart because–well frankly because we’re the GIANTS–and what more could WE possibly need? More importantly, though, I think we should take heart because this spring we have been given the opportunity to gaze into the future of our GIANTS, and that future? It’s looking bright–very bright, indeed. There are a few reasons for our shiny outlook, but right now I want to talk about 2 very specific reasons: Matt Duffy and Justin Maxwell. I’ll tell you why.
I call them kids–because to me that’s exactly what they are–kids. Hells bells, I have shoes older than these guys–shoes that are practically still in style. Baseball is a young man’s game and while Justin Maxwell–aka The Silver Hammer–may be a kid to me, at 31, when it comes to baseball, he’s kind of a middle-aged guy. Justin is from Maryland–where his dad was the White House dentist for a couple of famous First Smiles–Clinton’s and Dubbya’s. Justin lettered in baseball and basketball in high school, and was drafted by the Orioles in 2001. He opted for college–bypassed Harvard and went to the University of Maryland where he majored in Animal Sciences and played baseball. “He was the cornerstone” of the team in centerfield–and that was after he took a medical redshirt his junior year when he broke his arm. He was drafted again in 2004–by Texas, then ended up signing with the Nationals after they picked him in the 4th round of the 2005 draft. He landed with the GIANTS after a few detours and sidetracks along the way.
Maxwell hasn’t had an easy time in the bigs–but he’s starting to turn things around. Word on the street is he and Bam Bam have been working on getting him some consistency in his at-bats. Maxwell and Meulens–sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?–have been studying Maxwell’s big-league plate appearances and developed a routine they hope will improve his chances against any pitcher. Looks to me like it’s working. Becoming a GIANT is a dream come true for Maxwell. He grew up a GIANTS fan because his dad is a GIANTS fan–his favorite baseball player is–or was–Willie Mays.
This is Matt Duffy’s 1st major league ST camp. I know It’s hard to believe–given how well he’s doing and the fact that he’s already earned a World Series ring. I wonder how many players can say that!? Duffy is a California kid. He grew up in Southern California–a huge Angels fan. He was nicknamed “The Duffman” after a cartoon character from The Simpsons by a sportswriter when he was in high school. He went to Long Beach State and was drafted by the GIANTS in the 18th round of the 2012 draft. Duffy, who is 24, won the Barney Nugent Award–presented to the best GIANTS player in his first big-league camp. He’s one of the best hitters in the Cactus League, and he’s tied with another shortstop for most hits by a shortstop in either camp.
And if that isn’t enough to impress you their numbers from Spring Training–I’ve spared all the details–rank both players among the games’ elite. When you look at the players stats–Hits, RBI, BA, OBP–Maxwell and Duffy’s numbers are close to or on the same level as players like Mike Trout, Matt Kemp, Albert Puljos, Joc Pederson and Giancarlo Stanton. I’m adding Brandon Belt to this list because he’s had a tremendous spring. Big Hitters. Big names. Big numbers.
It gets interesting–perhaps a little dicey–when you look at these two guys as they stack up against the rest of the GIANTS. Their numbers place them–along with Brandon Belt–at the top of the heap in hitting stats. But it’s the end of ST and it’s time to decide who’ll make the team. Maxwell has already carved out a spot on the GIANTS roster for Opening Day–we need an outfielder. What they plan to do with Duffy remains to be seen–we don’t need another infielder. Ehire Adrianza is out of options. I don’t understand exactly how that works–I do know it involves the 40 man roster, shuttling a player back and forth between the majors & the minors, and the finite number of times that can happen. What it boils down to is this: they can’t send Adrianza back to the minors without running the risk of another team taking him, but they can send Duffy because Duffy isn’t out of options. My opinion–and it doesn’t count for squat–Duffy stays. So what if another team gets a shot at picking up Adrianza? Let them–it’s time to fish or cut bait with Adrianza–who’s got a knife?
You gotta admire Duffy though–he set out for ST with a goal. His goal wasn’t to do everything he could to make the team, his goal was to do everything he could to make the decision to send him down a difficult one. He did exactly that. faced with the tough decision about what to do with Duffy–the bottom line is this: whatever Brian Sabean ultimately decides will the best decision for the GIANTS. Sabean has a magic touch, and an uncanny knack for getting it right. You can bet your World Series replica ring on it.