Superb spring training stats aren't always enough 

click to enlarge Catcher Hector Sanchez could be out of luck. Despite tearing the cover off the ball through spring training, word is the Giants already decided the backup catcher job would go to the more experienced Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • us presswire file photo
  • Catcher Hector Sanchez could be out of luck. Despite tearing the cover off the ball through spring training, word is the Giants already decided the backup catcher job would go to the more experienced Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart.

Spring training stats don’t matter. Until they do. Make sense? Of course not. It’s not supposed to.

That’s the point.

Oddly enough, there is no point.

Still confused? Me too. And I’ve been covering spring training since well before 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” was a hit.


Take the Giants, for instance. Hector Sanchez’s great spring stats probably won’t matter when it comes to the team naming a backup catcher. Why? Because the team went to camp wanting the job to go to one of their more experienced backstops, Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart.

Sanchez, they can say, needs more defensive seasoning. More of that oh-so-important experience.

Angel Pagan’s awful spring stats didn’t matter much for the first five weeks, either. Another nod to the Giants’ preference for track records, for veterans. The Giants can say he was working on things, not sweating stats.

Until he started hitting a little this week. Now suddenly you heard manager Bruce Bochy talk like the results matter. Nice to see Pags getting hot right before the lights come on, right?

Same with Nate Schierholtz. But he scuffled some this spring, too, and because he’s never quite had the full confidence of the coaching staff for some reason, it was whispered that he needs to start putting up some numbers or risk losing his job to nonroster sensation Gregor Blanco.

The A’s do the same type of thing. Every team does. Here’s the bottom line: In most cases, teams have their minds made up well in advance of camp as to who needs to show what, and some guys don’t need to show a damn thing.
Only fringe guys like Blanco have a shot at forcing an issue; of making a decision extremely difficult.

It’s one of the dirty little secrets of spring training, where stats are as pliable as putty, depending on what perception you’re trying to shape.

FIRST MARIO MANNINGHAM AND NOW BRANDON JACOBS: Might the Niners be suffering from some Super Bowl envy? Was the New York Giants’ long snapper not available?

Actually, both of these moves were spot-on. Neither guy is a No. 1 at his position, but both provide something the Niners lacked in their renaissance season.

In Manningham, you have another big body — along with Vernon Davis — who doesn’t shy away from across-the-field routes and can flat out-muscle a smaller defensive back for the ball. Michael Crabtree is not that guy, and Randy Moss will be something of a DH, running the sidelines to keep the middle open for the big men.

In Jacobs, you have a bruising, between-the-tackles back who can bully his way through the final few yards of the red zone — something Frank Gore had a strangely difficult time doing last season.

Neither breaks the bank, either.

Oh, and Josh Johnson? Genius. Seriously. Is anyone really worried about Alex Smith’s feelings at this point? Is the point not putting the best football field possible on the field? It is, feelings be damned.

As long as Jim Harbaugh is the coach, chemistry will be strong in that locker room.

SPEED ROUND: Nothing like reading about the A’s opener on Wednesday in Thursday’s paper. Or was it Tuesday’s opener in Wednesday’s paper? Or was it Friday’s paper? Oh crap, who cares? Baseball’s already huge in Japan. Stop the globalization charade and bring the boys home. … Tiger Woods’ timing is exquisite. So is his game when he’s on. But installing him as the Masters favorite after one win in forever is ludicrous. Put it back in your pants, people. … If you haven’t heard, I’m going to be back on the radio this Saturday talking baseball, 9 a.m.-noon on 95.7-FM (The Game). Join me for the best in Bay Area big-league banter. Thanks.

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).
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