Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 40-37: D'Rox-ing the Boat

Now THAT was torture!  Getting swept by the D-gers is about as bad as things can get.  Almost nothing positive happened at all, other than Aaron Rowand's re-emergence as a hitter.  He'll be getting into the mix now that Andres Torres has cooled off a lot, though I suspect that Bochy will mix and match Huff, Burrell, Torres, and Rowand in the OF, and Uribe and Sandoval at 3B, and Sandoval, Huff, and Posey at 1B.  And the Giants were lucky not to end the homestand 0-6, that win had some elements of luck, coming back.

Posey didn't start the first two games of the series, but he continued to struggle, though he got a hit today (but only after three strikeouts).  But he wasn't the only one, it was almost everyone struggling to mount any offense at all.  He was just the worse of the bunch in the past 3 weeks.

Now we face Colorado.  D-Rox passed us up during this series and is third now, while we are fourth, a half game behind them and 5.5 games behind the 'Dres.  They are now 7-4, 11-6.  Hopefully playing in the climes of Colorado will get the offense going, which will be necessary as the team is going on the road for 11 games before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, with Colorado, we don't know how that will affect our pitchers.

Game 1:  Aaron Cook vs. Bumgarner

MLB Notes:
Giants:  In his first start of 2010, Bumgarner allowed two homers en route to earning the loss for his first career decision. After giving up a three-run homer in the top of the second, Bumgarner settled down and allowed only two hits the rest of the way, pitching seven full innings.
Colorado:  Cook was victimized by just one bad pitch on Saturday against the Angels, when he allowed a first-inning grand slam to Hideki Matsui before settling down to a throw a complete game. His sinker was on, as he recorded 17 ground-ball outs.
Cook has not pitched that well against the Giants in his career, 4.99 ERA. But we can't tell how Bumgarner will handle pitching in Colorado. Call it a coin toss, with a lean towards D-Rox because they have been going well and we have been scuffling.

Game 2: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Lincecum

MLB Notes:
Giants: Lincecum's last start was his shortest outing since Opening Day 2009, as the right-hander lasted only three innings against the Red Sox. In those three innings, Lincecum threw 79 pitches and walked three batters, allowing four runs on five hits.

Colorado: Chacin struck out a career-high 12 batters in six innings on Sunday but was plagued by a three-run homer by Mike Napoli after an error by third baseman Ian Stewart in a 5-3 loss to the Angels. In all, he allowed five runs, two earned, over six innings.
Chacin handled the Giants previously, but that was in SF and he hasn't pitched well at home this season, 4.80 ERA. Lincecum has pitched well in Colorado before and been beat upon there as well. Given his recent struggles, have to call this a coin flip with a lean towards Lincecum, though normally I would say it was probably a win. Luckily Lincecum misses going against Ubaldo.

Game 3: Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Zito

MLB Notes:
Giants: In his last outing against the Dodgers, Zito pitched six innings, giving up two runs on two hits while earning a no-decision. He experienced trouble in the third inning, when he gave up both his runs a sacrifice fly and RBI double.

Colorado: Somehow it's fitting that Jimenez throw on a fireworks night, although there have been unexpected pyrotechnics in his last two starts. He has given up 10 runs in 11 2/3 innings. In both, he has started strong but fallen behind hitters in the middle innings.
Unlucky for Zito, he gets to face Ubaldo Jimenez. At least Jimenez has been human lately, but still, despite Zito's 1.95 ERA in his career in about 12-15 starts against Colorado, have to say that Colorado will probably win, given how poorly our offense has been going lately and they have Ubaldo starting.  He's their win-day starter.

Game 4: Jason Hammel vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Giants: Cain once again failed to beat the Dodgers in his last outing, taking the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits to fall to 0-8 all-time vs. L.A. In Cain's last start against Colorado on June 2, he held the Rockies to one run on four hits in eight innings.

Colorado: Hammel held the Padres to three runs in 6 1/3 innings, and no runs until the seventh, in his last start. He overcame a bad start against the Red Sox in his previous outing and has posted a 1.83 ERA in his past six starts by concentrating on first-pitch strikes.

Hammel is probably the least talented starting pitcher we face in Colorado, but he's had a 3.03 ERA against the Giants in his career. Cain, however, has a 2.96 ERA against Colorado. Plus, Hammel is pretty good at home this season, but so is Cain in Colorado, 3.60 ERA in his career. However, Hammel has been going good while Cain has had a couple of horrible starts. Call it even with a lean to Colorado.

Giants Thoughts

Doesn't look to get easier against D-Rox after that horrible homestand. It is possible to split but looks like it will be another series loss. Particularly with our offense sleeping for so long.

As I noted in my previous series discussion, the entire offense has been slumbering for a couple of weeks now, led by Posey's horrible hitting line. But I won't put it on his head, he's still learning. He's clearly overmatched right now, going through the first of his many adjustments he will have to make if he's to have a long major league career. I'm OK with him sitting out starts if that allows the hot Renteria to start.

What we need to start hitting is the leadoff guy, whether that's Torres or Rowand, Uribe, and Pablo Sandoval. Renteria, Huff and Burrell have been the only guys hitting well recently, so if we can get offense out of two of these other three positions, that should get the offense scoring runs again. I would put it on their heads.

Rowand has been hitting, but been mostly sitting. I don't know if he'll ever start regularly for us again, he and Torres looks to be sharing CF for a while, unless Torres slump continues for the rest of the season. They could both play if Huff starts playing 1B if Posey sits more, but with Renteria hitting well, we could see more of Uribe at 3B and Sandoval at 1B. But given Pablo's struggles against LHP, he could be sitting more often, opening 1B for Posey to play.

It would also help if Bengie Molina were healthy and hitting again. If he got hot again, as he periodically has done in his Giants career, that would also be a boon to the lineup. Sitting more with Posey catching more will help.

I wonder if Bowker might come up at some point, given how well he is hitting down there and the talk about needing more left-handed hitting in the lineup (which of course meant that both Schierholtz and Ishikawa were not seen as good left-handed hitters to turn to), though that would then cause some dominoes to fall because there is nobody to send down, unless they sent Posey down or DFA either Schierholtz or Ishikawa.

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

It is like none of the guys crying about the Giants have ever gone through a complete season before. The stuff being said about the Giants now? It is the same stuff people were saying when the Giants lost four straight to LA and SD early in April, leaving us 8-7. It is the same stuff people were saying when the Giants lost 5 games in row in mid-May, leaving us 22-21. It is the same stuff people are saying now, after losing four series.

For that matter, it is the same stuff they were saying last season when we were 88-74.

And really, it is not that hard to predict that this stuff is going to happen. We live on the edge, I readily admit that. A rebuilding team takes a while to get all the pieces together - it took Atlanta six years of 100+ loss seasons plus a few more after they were winning to get all their pieces together, basically once Chipper Jones joined the team. The Giants are not perfect and will live and die with their starting pitching, at least for this season, but things are looking up next season with Posey and Sandoval in the middle of the lineup and, hopefully, hitting to their potential.

And when the pitching goes awry, which it will do because they are all human, then that puts pressure on the offense. And that pressure often leads players to try to do more than they can, leading to worse performances because that is when they switch off their MLB baseball skills and switch on their skills when they were first learning to be a ballplayer.

Still, with our great pitching and good fielding, we don't need much of an offense to win with that type of defense. We cannot trade our way to a better offense without either hurting our pitching or losing very valuable prospects we will need in future seasons if we want to hope to have a long stretch of winning. We will have to live with what we got. And we have a number of good hitters, but unfortunately, none except Huff has been very consistent in delivering that offense, leading to our ups and downs.

More Darkness Before the Dawn

I see more hurting in store for the Giants in Colorado, but it could also start up the offense again, loosening them up, which would help in facing the Brewers and Nationals afterward. Those are two teams we should have a better chance of playing even against, and that's the goal when you are on the road, playing for .500+.

With so many games played straight without a rest, you will see a lot of mixing and matching in the lineup, and I would prefer it that way because none of the players, except for Huff so far this season, has earned the right to be the full-time starter (though Renteria is nearing that if he keeps on hitting like this). So play those who are swinging the bat well, and sit those who aren't, but give plenty of rest to everyone so that everyone gets regular chances to show what they can do.

Vote for Pablo: We Need the Panda Back!

However, I would just continue to play Sandoval regularly, though one day of rest per week shouldn't hurt him and that would allow us to play Renteria more. We need for him to get untracked, out of everybody on the team. We need him to regain the joy of playing baseball and not the grind of reminders about his weight, about the way he hits, about all the things that annoy people.

You know what? I think people injured the goose that laid the golden eggs with Sandoval. A hitter's swing is pretty hard to adjust on the fly, and I think Sandoval is reaching the point where he's taking a micro-second to consciously decide whether that ball is a strike or not, and that slight delay is causing him to not connect as solidly with pitches this year the ones he was blasting last season. The article on Torres said that it took him a full season plus the off-season to incorporate all the ideas and thoughts into his swing and getting it to work, so Sandoval could be like this all season.

Plus, we don't know how hard he is driving himself to lose weight. A person could get too obsessive about that and be working at it all the time. The body can't take that type of work all the time, it needs rest to recover. Maybe he's not giving his body time to recover, it is not like the Giants can watch him 24x7.

He looked like he was going to come out of his funk a couple of weeks again when he homered twice, but now he looks as lost as ever. I think his confidence has taken a hit, and that is always a winding road to take when you go down that road for the first time, there will be lots of ups and downs plus second guessing that will just delay his recovery and return to hitting.

Our season's hopes rely strongly on his being able to hit the way he was able to over the first year and a half of his career, from August 2008 to April 2010. His two month funk we've been able to handle because some hitters got hot in May and early June, but most of the team has been scuffling the past three weeks. We can't keep relying on someone stepping up and hitting, we need the steadiness of production that Sandoval gave us since he reached the majors.

But first, Colorado...

Go Giants!

1 comment:

  1. Once Pablo figures out the strike zone and it becomes second nature he will be even better than before. So far I think the runs produced, even by a hot hitter like Burrell, is more than offset by all the runs the outfield is now giving up, on ball hit that would have been outs with an outfield of Rowand, Torres, and Schierholtz. Bring back Bowker.



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