I promise that next Monday we will bring back the week’s in review and hopefully establish a good rhythm again.
For now though, the Giants season has been a sort of bizarro world. The starting pitching has been poor. The hitter has been good, if not great. The comebacks have been awesome. Who saw that coming?
Good vibes aside, for the Giants to have a shot at repeating they need to get better starting pitching. No way around that.
Here is my assessment thus far:
- Matt Cain has not been good, but the amount of home runs he has allowed do line up with his career averages. Some might argue that such an extreme fly ball pitcher is finally having the law of averages catch up with him, but I don’t see it continuing at this rate. More important, Cain’s control has been lacking. I see him righting the ship and being the ace. Level of Panic: low.
- Madison Bumgarner has had 6 great starts and one not so great start. No worries here. Madbum doesn’t have the video game stuff to dominate every time, so there will be times when it doesn’t go well. That said not worried. Level of Panic: extremely low.
- Tim Lincecum is the most maddening player in a Giants’ uniform since Barry Zito who is still in a Giants’ uniform. He can look so good on one pitch and so bad on another. Dominate a batter than watch the pitcher. Provide a ray of hope with a clean start and then dash it with another start ruined by the big inning. What do you do? I still hold out hope that he is smart enough, talented enough, and not injured enough to figure it out. Level of Panic: moderate.
- Barry Zito: Barry Zito is Barry Zito. I really don’t know how else to say it. Here’s what Barry Zito does: for every 5 starts, he will give 2 great turns, 2 good turns, and 1 huge turd of a turn. And that all works out to a perfectly acceptable league average 4th starter. Barry Zito. Level of Panic: low (Giants’ fans left panic a long time ago in regards to Zito).
- Ryan Vogelsong: Ryan Vogelsong is the baseball definition of house money. In 2011 he was around to do one thing and one thing only: provide rotation depth. He started the season in AAA and only came up because of Jonathan Sanchez (remember him). Then it was because of Barry Zito. He made the All-Star team and it was a great story, but it was never part of the plan. And then it got even better. Another good season and a post-season transformation into THE ACE. But, when does the clock strike midnight and the coach turn back into a pumpkin? It might have happened, in a way, last August. It sure seems like it is happening now. The problem is that Vogey is now part of the plan. So, where do we go from here if this is the end of the line? Level of Panic: Red Alert!
So, what happens now? The hot rumor of the week is the Giants should go after Cliff Lee should the Phillies continue their downward spiral (a spiral the Giants are not helping in this current series).
The Cliff Lee idea is not unlike an idea I proposed this offseason which you can read about here. (By the way, Anibal Sanchez is off to a GREAT start).
Do the Giants pursue this?
Here’s the case against Lee:
- He is old. 35 in August.
- He has an injury history. Been on the DL at least once in each of the past four seasons.
- He is expensive. $25 mil for the next 3 years (including 2013).
Here’s the case for Lee:
- He is very good. He is even better in the post-season.
- The Giants could move Lincecum or Vogelsong to the bullpen.
- The Giants will lose some combination of Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Zito after this season. Their good young arms are probably not going to be ready for opening day 2014. They will need outside help at some point to fill out the rotation, so why not Cliff Lee.
A couple of other factors. First, would the Phillies even want to do this? Maybe, they could get financial relief and some prospects. Second, would the Giants have what it takes to pull this off? Maybe…but their thin system would essentially be depleted. Third, Cliff Lee has a limited no-trade clause. The Giants could be one of the 21 teams on that list.
If the Giants could pull this off by trading only 1 decent prospect, than I say do it. They can manage the expense (especially with Lincecum, Pence, and potentially Zito coming off the books at the end of the year).
If it requires 2-3 top prospects, I say no.
It’s a long season and we are still just getting started. While the early returns have not been great from this rotation, there is plenty of time to right the ship. As bad as it’s been, the Giants are only a half game out of first place.
So, true panic should not set in until June. Let’s hope this magical group of five, who have been so good the last several years, turn it around quickly.