Monday, May 31, 2010


Buster'd Stuff

Here's the scenario. Take the generally anemic Giant offense and pit them against a pitcher with ten wins and an ERA you'd need the Hubble Space Telescope to find, and see what shakes loose. Yeah, that was bound to go well. Couple that with the fact that the team's 5'10'' superstud still can't find the strike zone, and it was probably a foregone conclusion that today's Memorial Day game was going to be a stinker.

This afternoon's loss can't take away from the success of the weekend, though, as the Giants swept the DBacks, concluding the broomsmanship with an exciting comeback win on Sunday. Right in the middle of the carnage, of course, was uberprospect Buster Posey, who made his 2010 debut and rapped out six hits over the weekend. Yes, I'm very happy to admit that I delayed some of my weekend plans just to see his first two at-bats.

So Posey enlivened our hearts and did a beautiful job of making the Giants front office look like a bunch of asses. A better debut I can't immediately think of (all right, you got me). Posey's immediate success means the Giants can't stick him on the bench any time soon; Mays Field would be burned to the ground. The major question is: where does Posey fit once Edgar Renteria and Mark Derosa come back?

The Giants still have a massive Bengie-crush, even as he falls back to sub-.300 OBP Earth, so he's probably not going to be traded. You can't bench Aubrey Huff or Juan Uribe at this point (am I late in realizing how sad it is that these guys are the Giants best hitters?). If Renteria continues to hit anything like he has been once he comes off the DL, he has to play. Derosa is another power source and there's no way he's going to be this bad once he returns. Andres Torres can't be benched because he's ten kinds of awesome and I'll bomb Brian Sabean's office with C4-loaded carrier pigeons if anything happens to him. Nate Schierholtz provides defensive brilliance and a competent enough bat.

I guess what I'm saying here is that the elephant in the room is Aaron Rowand. In case of roster crunch, bench Rowand. After his obligatory hot two weeks, he's now basically a second pitcher in the lineup and needs to go. However, money talks and bullshit...well, doesn't walk and puts up a .263 OBP, but you get it. Rowand's contract prevents him from being shipped off anywhere, so we're stuck watching him swing at sliders five feet off the plate for the foreseeable future.

The who is going to get screwed here is most likely Schierholtz. Huff looks competent in left field now, but I'm going to take a wild guess and say that given a larger sample size he'll be a liability. Once again, though, his bat has to be in the lineup, so the Giants are probably forced to just plug their nose and hope he doesn't sink to Glenallen Hill levels. When Derosa comes back...ah who the hell knows? Every infielder is hitting better than he is, so he'll probably just turn into a supersub who spells one player each night. Whatever the case, any solution that gives us more Buster Posey, sign me up for.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


That Boy Ain't Right

On the heels of their depressing five-game losing streak, the Giants at least succeeded in passing the Livan Test, beating everyone's favorite gelatinous mass last night and (supposedly) reigniting the offense with a little home cookin'. If your bats can't get going against El Tubbo and his assortment of 40 mph breaking balls, then it's time to seriously consider some major reconstructive roster surgery, and I don't mean a just a "shuffling of the dreck chairs" (God, I love that headline).

Tonight, though, the bats went quiet against Luis Atilano, a guy whom no one has ever heard of but who came into the game with more walks than strikeouts (and he has that same 15:19 ratio after the game, since he neither walked nor struck anyone out) and a very unintimidating minor league record. He's the very epitome of a guy bad teams throw out to the mound as cannon fodder, praying their lineup has seven runs in them that night. So he should have been easy pickings for a reinvigorated Giants lineup, right?

Nah. The Giants swung early and often at Atilano's assorted crap and hit grounder after grounder, and Atilano came out looking like a modern day, Hispanic Randy Jones. The Nationals, on the other hand, worked Tim Lincecum like a dog, and Timmy threw 96 pitches, couldn't get past the fifth inning, and just generally looked lost all game. Kruk and Kuip noted that in the early going Lincecum kept glancing skyward, wondering where his lost command had run to. Trust me, guys, heavenward is where we'll be gazing a lot if Timmy can't get this stuff sorted out soon.

It's Lincecum's third straight wild start, more concerning this time because it came at home. He doesn't necessarily look fatigued, just out of whack. A lot of fastballs are sailing high and up out of the strike zone, which tends to indicate a mechanical problem. Or perhaps his, um, extracirricular activities are following him onto the field. I wonder if the Giants will have Lincecum skip a start or take an extra day of rest due to the recent struggles.

Speaking of pitchers who haven't looked good lately, Barry Zito goes tomorrow to try to give the Giants the series win. Zito's line looked poor against Oakland, but he basically got dinked and doinked to death, and few balls were hit very hard. My favorite fun fact about Zito thus far this season is that he's only allowed one homer so far in over 60 innings. Anyone want to bet that that rate won't hold over the course of the season?

Monday, May 24, 2010


That Was Ugly

In the last two Giants-A's Interleague games I've attended, the Giants have scored exactly zero runs. The last such game I had gone to see between these two teams ended with something known as Lenny DiNardo shutting down the Giants completely. Yesterday, with me sitting there once again in all my sunburned, alcohol-fueled glory, the Giants were shut down by Ben Sheets and his three merry men. Right about now, I'm halfway convinced that the next time I go to one of these Bay Bridge games, the A's could trot out a 65-year-old Ken Holtzman and he'd throw a one-hit shutout.

Yesterday was just embarrassing. I mean, the whole weekend series was like a bad joke, but yesterday's game was especially miserable because I had to sit there in my mock Zito jersey (my Lincecum jersey was in the wash) and take in the insults from the surrounding wasted A's fans like a jackass. A 500-pound A's fan danced and yelled trash talk as he nearly brought down the bleachers under his girth, and some jerk tried to mockingly high five me on the way out of the stadium. If I had been drinking during the game, he'd have gotten a foot in the nards. I've cooled in my views toward the A's over the years since my utter hatred of them as a kid, but games like this threaten to break the increasingly tenuous cease-fire.

Honestly, I could handle most of the crap from the game yesterday. I could handle the drunken A's fans and their none-too-witty jabs, safe in the knowledge that the only way they get 20,000 people to their crappy ballpark is when the Giants roll in. I could also handle the raging sunburn and the awful Coliseum hot dogs, and nearly being crapped on by seagulls after the game as we waited for (likely) over 0.08 BAC drivers to filter out of the parking lot.

What I couldn't handle was the pathetic way the Giant hitters just went down like flies throughout the entire weekend. They didn't work counts, they didn't hit the ball hard, and they didn't seem like they had a clue, ever. Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres are the only players on the Giants right now who are putting up decent at-bats. Pablo Sandoval has had a horrid month, but at least he looks like he's maybe sorta coming out of it. Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez look absolutely horrible, and Juan Uribe and Bengie Molina seem to be slipping back toward the dreaded mean. Being an eyewitness to this stuff was pure torture.

On the bright side of things, it's now almost two whole months into the season, and Jonathan Sanchez has an ERA of exactly 3.00. The grueling starts that turn into walk-a-thons and pitch count nightmares are becoming fewer are fewer, and his BB/9 rate is down considerably. The evidence continues to grow that the mechanical adjustments he made half way through last season are truly paying off. Despite all this, he still has a Matt Cain-esque 2-4 record, leading to conspiracy theories that the Giants feel they have to put every starting pitcher through a hellish season with zero run support as a sort of inane rite of passage.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


No Sheltering Sky

The thing about having high hopes for the Giants this season is that losses like tonight's 8-7 grumble-a-thon sting a lot more. If the Giants suck and they lose a game like this, I can just turn the TV off and get on with my life. If they are in contention, losses like this have me waking up screaming in the middle of the night, babbling about Dan Runzler's latest fastball to the backstop.

Ah, Runzler. I'm becoming less and less of a fan with each passing game. Yeah, his stuff is nasty, but I've gotta say I'm pretty tired of watching him come in and immediately walk two guys to put himself in trouble, then leave the game so some other poor bullpen sap can wobble his way out of the mess. When Bochy left Runzler in to start the seventh instead of bringing in Jeremy Affeldt, I'm sure everybody could have predicted it'd be bad times.

Couple the bullpen meltdown with the fact that the ninth inning degenerated into one big bitchfest between home plate umpire Mark Wegner and the Giants bench, and this was a pretty brutal game to endure. As opposed to laundry list of nightmare games in Coors Field, the Giants have historically had better luck winning slugfests in the Chase Field bandbox, so I had a better feeling about pulling this one out. Nope. Between this game and the sight of Todd Wellemeyer and Brandon Medders giving the first game away, it was a bad short series under the desert sky. Yes, we need new dreams tonight.

Glossing over the late-game gag reel that sent the Giants to their undoing, I think we should ask why Tim Lincecum has suddenly lost his control. He's now walked ten batters in his last two games, and tonight he hit the 100 pitch mark in just the fifth inning. It's one thing to work carefully to a good Dbacks lineup in a hellish ballpark to pitch in. It's another to walk five Astros when the team is sporting a collective .277 OBP (I wish I were kidding).

Is Timmy fatigued? Don't say that word around the pitch count nazis. They'll cut you a good one. I'm thinking it's just a case of midseason small sample fooferah. Every pitcher has a stretch where they aren't sharp. Remember when we were ready to sing songs of the looming Apocalypse after Lincecum's first two starts last year?

Monday, May 17, 2010


Another Day, Another Workmanlike Loss To the Padres

This is getting ridiculous. If it weren't for the blasted Padres, the Giants would be the best team in the National League. The Dodgers are hated, the Rockies are annoying, but the Padres are just becoming a sort of Boogeyman, a constant antagonist like this scary bastard. I've never disliked the Pads, and they're seen as a sort of grudging ally in the NL West, but give me a break. The pathetic thing is, other than Adrian Gonzalez, there doesn't seem to be a guy in their lineup who should beat you. And yet they do...every single time.

Tonight's game encapsulated, once again, everything that is frustrating about being an opponent in Petco Park, and why the Giants seemingly haven't won there since 2006. Hard hit smash that looks destined to be ten rows deep in the bleachers? Watch it nestle into Kyle Blanks's glove ten feet short of the warning track. The Giants get a runner on second base finally? Watch him stand there deserted as three straight batters pop out to end the threat. Two drunk morons run out onto the field during the ninth inning as Heath Bell's arm starts to ice? Don't worry. Eugenio Velez is here to whiff feebly and ensure that no damage will come of it.

When I learned today that the series in San Diego was just a two-gamer, it was the best news I'd heard all day (sorry, BP). If the Giants somehow beat Cy Latos tomorrow to split the series it'll be more impressive than Dallas Braden's perfect game, because it's just that unlikely. Frankly, at this point, I don't care. Just get tomorrow's game over with and, to paraphrase Douglas Quaid, get your ass to Arizona.

--Good thing the Giants scrapped worthless old Fred Lewis. What's that lousy good-for-nothing doing these days? Oh, right. Lewis isn't setting the world on fire with Toronto, exactly, but his .796 OPS wouldn't look too bad in the Giants' outfield right now, especially now that Mark Derosa might be gone for a long time. Remember that every time you have to endure another hopeless Velez at bat.

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