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Monday Morning Rockpile:

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Some doses of realism this morning on four of the perceived roster spot winners thus far:

Jayson Nix
Good: Batting out of the eighth slot, he's going to get pitched around quite a bit. He's got some pretty decent patience and an ability to extend those PA's.
Bad: Holes in his swing are still pretty large, limiting his ability to make contact. I don't think the bat speed that Keith Law brought up the other day is as much of an issue until the innermost section of the strikezone, but it's enough that it should keep him from being adequate on the contact front.
Better than advertised: So far this Spring, Jayson has a .429 OBP, getting on nine times by walk or HBP, which is tied for tops on the team with Scott Podsednik. You've got to be careful not to consider this as proof of anything -we've seen plenty of examples of how inconsistent pitchers can be in Spring, but Nix getting on base over 40% of the time is certainly a better sign than his hitting alone indicates.
As advertised: Well, I've said as much, but I don't know if anybody else has. When he does connect, he does so much more solidly than we've seen from our second basemen in quite some time, producing legitimate power at times. Schizo alert - despite this being my assertion, I'm also of the feeling that Cactus League HR's have very little -if any- relevance in the regular season. I'm definitely not going to say I'm right until I see a few of the for real variety.
Worse than advertised: Largely due to some of us hyping him so much, Nix has had a pretty generic camp on the defensive side of things.

Jeff Baker:
Good: Baker's shown up much better on the practice fields than he has in games so far.
Bad: His official line doesn't show all he's done in camp, but the .214/.233/.393 showing results in a worse OPS than Nix, Marcus Giles, Ian Stewart, Clint Barmes, or even Omar Quintanilla. I'm just not sure why he can't translate his evident skills to the MLB level, but it's certainly troubling.
Better than advertised: His defense at second seems like it won't be a negative.
As advertised: His body is indeed leaner than what it was last season, and he looks in excellent shape.
Worse than advertised: Similarly to how he started the regular season in 2007, the bat went silent after an initial outburst.

Clint Barmes:
Good: He's been showing up every day and doing the things coaches love but bloggers just don't appreciate.
Bad: He's Clint Barmes, and I'm a blogger, therefore it's probably impossible for me to appreciate him.
Better than advertised: He's making solid consistent contact and driving the ball to the gaps at the plate.
As advertised: Versatile, gritty, yeah, all that stuff.
Worse than advertised: He's not a catcher and doesn't hit like Barry Bonds, I expect a lot more from my utility infielder.

Franklin Morales:
Good: His pickoff move, and he is keeping most contact on the ground.
Bad: His last outing.
Better than advertised: Nothing. This isn't necessarily a bad sign, so don't read too much into it, it's just that Morales has certainly been hyped a great deal, and so far this Spring he hasn't been living up to expectations. Keep in mind that he had a very shaky start to his 2007 season, not really turning his performance around until mid-May.
As advertised: Command issues and inconsistency have plagued his performances so far. He's had a couple of good starts along with a couple of bad ones.
Worse than advertised: I suppose his velocity, but I'm not concerned about that right now as much as I am with his consistency.


I think Podsednik is very close to securing our last outfield bench spot, if he hasn't already so I might have to do one of these for him in the next few days. The last two slots in the bullpen are more mushy for me, but I'm less sanguine about Ramon Ramirez's chances of slipping through the waiver process. O'Dowd's comments the other day about the team having ways to hold onto him lead me to believe that should no trade work out for him right away (and I'm not expecting it too) that Mark Redman winds up in the bullpen. That would leave a trio of guys who have had excellent Springs -Ryan Speier, Micah Bowie, and Josh Newman- at AAA. That kind of help goes to show how much of a sham the whole March competition thing is, as these decisions tend to be made as much for contract status as they do for performance when it comes down to the nitty-gritty.