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Hello Again, Or How I Learned That Senioritis Clears Time for Blogging

The format of the site is shiny and new, but it's the same URL I'm used to. For those of you who are still around from when I used to write here frequently, it's nice to be back. For those of you who have joined up while I was on my no-blogging sabbatical, it's nice to meet you, and I hope we enjoy each other's company just like those who are familiar with me.

Quick background: I started Beyond the Box Score up with Dan Scotto (currently of Mets Geek) back in May of 2005, and wrote here almost daily for quite some time until I realized I wanted to make sure I finished college with a 3.0. Blogging was the victim, since I didn't feel right running the site if I was going to be ignoring my writing duties. Recently I've discussed coming back in a writing capacity--as a good friend of mine always tells me, writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised--so I hope in the long run you will be as pleased with my return as I am.

With that, let's analyze some baseball, shall we? The Giants lack news headlines that befit their team name, but that's to be expected for a roster with too many unproductive veterans and an influx of young players that may not last long enough to hold the same distinction. Of course stories about plans for the team's parking lot are going to appear when the season opens, because it may be the most positive news the team sees in awhile.

I don't want to spend this post beating up on a team that took plenty of abuse before the 2008 season even opened though. What I'm interested in is the team's shortstop, Brian Bocock. Bocock is 23 years old, and only starting because Omar Vizquel is out with an injury. He hit a paltry .183/.247/.183 in 71 spring training at-bats, and his PECOTA forecast, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus, is just about as dismal: .225/.280/.321 for a weighted mean, and just .250/.309/.373 for a 90th percentile forecast.

Bocock is, as of this posting, not a major league caliber hitter. He is well below replacement level offensively, but his being in the majors is not his fault, so I don't mean to single him out. Bocock is highly regarded as the top defensive player in the Giants minor league system, and Dan Fox's Simple Fielding Runs (SFR) verified these claims statistically. He can field, but over a full season he's overmatched at the plate. It reminds me of when the Kansas City Royals brought Andres Blanco up from the minors for a short time; Blanco didn't do himself any favors by succeeding at the plate when he shouldn't have, because the Royals just kept throwing him up against major league pitching after that.

I bring this up because Bocock picked up his first hit and first RBI (via bases loaded walk) in last night's game. You love to see guys like this do well, even for a short time--and with Vizquel expected back before too long, that's all Bocock has in the majors right now--so it was nice to see, at least for me. I'm somewhat torn about his performance though; I want him to do well enough that he earns an invitation back in the future--he is just 23 years old, after all, and a fine fielder by both scouting and statistical accounts--but not so well that the Giants make the same kind of mistake the Royals made with plenty of middle infielders earlier this decade.

Bocock is in a rough place, but he's earning a major league paycheck for a bit, and he made the show. With Vizquel expected to retire in the near future--he has to eventually, right?--Bocock may end up back on the roster full time sooner than we think. With little to root for down by McCovey's Cove this year, Bocock is a player who I plan on watching a little more closely, just to see how he does. It sure beats talking about how unlucky Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are going to be for 162 games, doesn't it?