Monday, August 23, 2010
Noted .500 pitcher Matt Cain (I'm sorry, but I just can't get over that) pitched like a bull tonight, going eight strong and allowing only two runs. Of all the hitting stars, I give the game ball to Freddy Sanchez, who rapped out four hits. Sanchez has been a whole lot of miserable for a good two months now, so any sign that he can get his bat going is a welcome one. If he can hit like he did with Pittsburgh last season (.776 OPS) over the last month, that's a bug asset, and I don't think that's too much to ask. Lastly, the Buster Posey man-crush continues to grow after two more hits tonight and no sign of letup. This could start to get creepy very soon.
-Late in tonight's game, the Giants brought in Cody Ross and Nate Schierholtz to act as defensive replacements, prompting Mike Krukow to start fawning over the incredible range this outfield now featured. Krukow stated that it was the best defensive outfield the Giants had trotted out since 1993, with Barry Bonds, Darren Lewis, and Willie McGee.
It's a good defense, for sure, but I beg to disagree, mostly because there's little evidence that Ross is all that good of a center fielder. So I guess it's two-thirds of a great defensive outfield, with one guy who most defensive metrics regard as pretty blah. Fair enough. It's better than the unsightly Pat Burrell/Jose Guillen corner combo that makes babies cry.
With this in mind, I feel the need to come out and say that I'm a big Schierholtz supporter, despite his limp bat. His glove is rated as a ridiculous 7.8 runs better than a normal right fielder, according to UZR, and Sean Smith's Total Zone Rating has him regarded highly as well. He and Andres Torres have probably been two of the best defensive players in the league this season, and have been a major part of the reason why the pitching has been so good thus far.
Which means he needs to play. I'm sorry but whatever gains Jose Guillen gives the team with the bat (and I question whether they're too substantial) are mostly taken away by his horrid fielding. The guy is like a frickin' statue out there (hopefully not one exposing itself to a whole city, though), and with the Giants and their staff full of fly ball pitchers, I'd argue that Schierholtz's glove has been a big part of the team's success so far this year. Is it any coincidence that their pitching has largely sucked since Guillen started getting regular at-bats?
Also, who knows, maybe Schierholtz will find his stroke with regular playing time again. Part of this insistence on playing him is based on the fact that I can't stand Guillen, but I think getting Nate's glove back in the outfield alongside Torres will be a big key to making the playoffs, crappy hitting or no.
-In the plugging universe, I should mention that Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has written an article, inspired by the semi-comical cycle accomplished by our old friend Bengie Molina, listing the most unlikely cycles of all time. Molina, of course, makes the cut (I literally thought the Giants announcers were joking when they mentioned he had hit for the cycle that day), but some of the other names provide a fun look at middling hitters throughout baseball history. There is one other former Giant on the list, as well as the only member of the old Harvey's Wallbanger Brewers teams who couldn't actually bang the wall.