Monday, May 02, 2011


Catching Up...With Injuries!

There's nothing like a weekend of watching your favorite team make the pitching staff of the Washington Nationals look like that of the 1971 Orioles. Sadly, the Giants spent the last four days hitting feeble grounders and weak pop ups, as pitchers like Jason Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny made mincemeat out of them. The Giants are 3-4 on the current road trip, but how they've won the three, I'll be damned if I can explain. Darren Ford's crazy speed was responsible for the one win in Pittsburgh but the other two victories came mostly because the Pirates and Nats had sudden episodes of self-destruction in single innings.

The team has a legitimate excuse for much of the offensive ineptitude, however: half the bloody roster is seemingly on the DL. Pablo Sandoval, heretofore the team's best hitter in 2011, suddenly broke a bone in his hand and will be out for a month. The team's leadoff hitter, Andres Torres, has been out for three weeks. Mark Derosa is back on the shelf with a wrist injury, in perhaps the least surprising news story of the year. Cody Ross missed the first three weeks of the season and looks totally out of whack at the plate. Aubrey Huff...well, he's not hurt, but he's sucking to such a tune that the wags that called his 2010 a fluke are starting to chirp a little louder.

In one of my previous barely-coherent posts on here, I mentioned that the number one threat to a Giants repeat is injury. Lo and behold, the Giants are being bombarded by a deluge of broken limbs and strained calf muscles to start 2011. Last season the Giants avoided major injuries to all of their key players (unless you count Derosa, which I don't). Now they have so many that we're back being subjected to the sight of Emmanuel Burriss on the major league roster. Is this the price we have to pay for winning a championship?

The obvious answer to all this would be to just ride out the storm and wait until the entire team gets healthy. That's when the real run at the West will begin, right? Er...right? The only problem is that some of the injured players, like Torres and Derosa, are in their 30's, where nagging injuries start to become major problems. Sandoval's injury seems flukish, but remember that this isn't exactly a team of strapping young go-getters. There's a lot of gray hair in the lineup, and these types are susceptible to injury and decline. Of course, if you've been a Giant fan for the past decade, you don't need me to tell you that.

Take Barry Zito, who is on the DL now. He's soon to be 33 and coming off of 11 straight seasons in which he's averaged about 200 or so walk-filled innings. Even for a guy with good mechanics and no significant injury history, that's a lot of mileage, and it's not out of the ordinary to see a relative soft-tosser like Zito completely break down once he dives deeper into his 30's. If this happens, the Giants are out one of the best fifth starters in the game, regardless of ludicrous contract.

Maybe it's just one of those seasons. The Giants, like every championship team, needed just a pinch of luck to run all the way to the gold in 2010. Perhaps a complete reversal of such luck is conspiring to bring them down in 2011.

--I don't mean to turn Stankeye into the Miguel Tejada Pissing On Blog, but man the guy is awful. I, like many a fellow Giants fan, was an extreme skeptic about Tejada's signing in the offseason. It's now a month into the season, and he looks like a player ready for the glories of the DFA line.

Fears of his nonexistent range in the field have proven to be reality and his usual hacktastic ways are even more of a problem because he isn't hitting for the power that he's known for. Well...that he was known for in 2005. Um, why did the Giants sign this guy again? Hey, at least he's not as whiny as I thought he'd be.

--Like a (Vogel)Song. Yeah, there was absolutely no reason for me to headline this blurb, but far be it from me to miss a chance to slip in an idiotic U2 reference. Last Thursday, Ryan Vogelsong returned to the majors to make his first start in the big leagues since (no joke) 2004, the year A.J. Pierzynski was delighting Giant fans with his crotch-kicking ways. Vogelsong pitched well and won the start, making for a nice little story of perserverance. After flaming out with the Pirates completely, he sifted through the minors and the Japanese leagues before making his way back to the mound on that day.

The most amazing thing about all of this, though, is how long it's been since Vogelsong played a role in one of the greatest shaftings of Brian Sabean's career. It seems like only yesterday that Vogelsong was packaged alongside Armando Rios in a trade that brought the Giants Jason Schmidt, but it was ten freaking years ago!  Obviously, that trade turned out to be one of the greatest steals in Giants history, as Schmidt became an All-Star while Vogelsong and Rios did very little with Pittsburgh. Now, after all this time, Vogelsong is back in a Giants uni and filling in for Barry Zito. Amazing story, but why do I feel so old?

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