Today I stayed home in Scottsdale, Arizona and went to the sold out Cubs-Giants game downtown. The Cubs and Giants are the two most popular teams in Arizona this time of year, with plenty of fans in town from the Midwest and the Bay Area to root on their team. I sat next to some nice people from Spokane, Washington who were friends with Giants' reliever Jerremy Affeldt. It got a little awkward when Affeldt, with no help from his defense, blew the Giants' lead late in the game, but it was a good game and good time all together.
Matt Cain: was absolutely dominant for the Giants. In fact, he was perfect. Cain only threw five innings, but he retired all 15 batters he faced, striking out seven. For me, the start was reminiscent of his complete-game perfecto in 2012. His performance was so seamless and the outs came so easily that I didn't even realize he was perfect until he was taken out of the game.
Cain, of course, had a career year in 2012, with a 16-5 record, 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts. He got off to a terrible start last season, with the long ball as the main culprit. At the All-Star break he had an ERA over 5. In the second half, however, he was the Matt Cain of old, posting an ERA under 3. Given his track record in the majors, there is no reason to think that Cain is not still a top pitcher in the National League. In the fantasy leagues I've drafted in(mostly auctions), Cain was going for almost half of what the top pitchers were fetching. For fantasy owners, like me, who view the first half of 2013 as an exception, rather than a rule, Cain could provide ace production at a reduced price. I'd target him in all formats - and I'm not just saying that because he was perfect today.
Pablo Sandoval: Other than Cain, the player of the game was the slimmed-down Pablo Sandoval, who delivered two hits including a two-run single in the fourth. I'm buying Sandoval too. Hopefully the weight loss and better conditioning will make the Panda more durable. This is also a contract year for him, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him trying to keep fit over the course of the season and to deliver statistics in line with his career highs.
The Giants ended up losing this game in large part to some awful defense at second base by utility man Tony Abreu. Abreu botched a line drive before air-mailing a double-play throw into the dugout, an error that gave the Cubs the lead. It is worth mentioning that regular second baseman Marco Scutaro has not appeared in a game yet this spring due to a back injury. At age 38, his slow recovery from this injury is troubling. I know that Scutaro is a number two fantasy second baseman at best, but I would put him on a list of players to avoid.
Stay tuned for more daily updates from Arizona as RotoBaller Scott Slezak provides your daily Cactus League fantasy baseball analysis.