Suck #sfgiants #week3

 

It’s hard to imagine things going any worse than they did this past week for our Giants. Last Monday we said that it was hard to evaluate this team for a variety of reasons: it was only 2 weeks in, they’d played the same teams over and over, and they had not won a Madison Bumgarner start.

Well, a week later: they still haven’t won a Madison Bumgarner start and they won’t for a while.

The supposed strength of the team, the starting pitching, has been terrible, worst in the majors (and that’s with 4 very good starts from MadBum).

They can’t hit, and the recent trend of no homers continues.

They can’t field.

The bullpen has been fine, but shaky.

Bruce Bochy’s been getting heart procedures done, various guys are hurt, and did I mention Madison Bumgarner?

It’s bleak, and it’s already spawning articles like this and this.

The pertinent numbers from Andrew Baggarly:

“the early returns aren’t good. They are 6-13, which matches their worst start through 19 games in modern franchise history. Taken together with their miserable second half last year, they are 36-55 since the All-Star break. And that projects to a 64-98 season.”

Which brings me to the point I want to make: this is a tired team.

That was the word that kept coming up again and again last year, and it continues to hold true this year.

It’s hard to look energetic when you are losing (even young teams look tired when they are losing). And it’s hard to look energetic when you are constantly behind (as the Giants have consistently been).

A couple good starts, a couple leads, a couple wins in a row and maybe the temperature changes, but this is a team that looks tired.

So, do they tank? Would you give away 2017 for more energy to be infused to the organization. Baggs thinks it would be a good idea. Brisbee is more pragmatic and suggests it won’t happen based on similar seasons of the past.

I’m of the opinion that it’s still too early to make that call. This is a proud team and proud players and they will rebound a bit.

But, it is time to start really paying attention to some key guys at the lower levels.

Much has been made about Christian Arroyo’s hot start at Sacramento. Barring a disaster he will be your 2018 opening day third baseman.

Tyler Beede seems primed to make a dozen or so starts at the major league level this year, especially if they shut down Bumgarner for the season.

Those are no-doubters in terms of guys we’ll see this year, and who are critical to the future. However, if things continue to go poorly, I’m all for shutting down Denard Span, any LF place holders, and Matt Cain in order to get a look at:

  • 1B/OF Travis Shaw (some who actually hits for power!)
  • Austin Slater (CF)
  • Mac Williamson (I know, I know, most Giants’ fans have moved on, but I still want to see him get 2-3 months of playing everyday in the big leagues)
  • Beede/Ty Blach
  • And, of course, Christian Arroyo

Grab bag of random thoughts:

  • I’m really surprised at how bad Gorkys Hernandez has looked so far. He’s been bad in every phase of the game, but especially defense, which was supposed to be his calling card. He looked so good last year when he came up late in the season, I can’t figure out what happened there, but he’s got to go.
  • I cannot believe that Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore are actually this bad. They’ve run into a little bit of bad luck in terms of where they’ve had to pitch so far, but these are guys who should be good no matter what park they are in. I expect both of them to turn it around.
  • Bochy got close to the lineup I was hoping/expecting, but didn’t go all the way. I wonder if we might see it this week?
  • The Giants at least are home for a week, but they get another full slate of divisional games. This feels like make or break, even though it is still early.

**NOTE: Christian Arroyo was called up about an hour after this post was first published.

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Consistently Inconsistent #sfgiants #week2

There are a variety of oddities making the evaluation of the Giants start to the season difficult.

For one, while they’ve played 14 games, they’ve only seen 3 different teams. This week, they only play 5 games and they only add one new team to that list. And it’s a team from the American League Central. That’s odd.

Opening day saw the continuation of 2016’s bullpen woes, but the bullpen hasn’t really been the issue. The Giants are one of the top teams in terms of runs scored in the NL, but they’ve had some BAD games with the bats.

They’ve had some encouraging starts from all five guys in the rotation, and yet are only consistent winners when Johnny Cueto takes the hill.

They are 0-3 when Madison Bumgarner starts, and he’s off to one of his better starts. That’s really odd.

The school of cold hard facts would say: 5-9 and last place is a bad start. No bones about it, this is not how anyone would have wanted to come out of the gate.

However, they’ve already weathered a week without Buster Posey, are not going to go winless in Bumgarner starts, and the big problem with this team (the bullpen) seems to have found a sense of stability.

Back to the dark side: the Giants are on a weird road trip, which includes Colorado, and 6-13 would really be a bad start to the season.

Where do we go from here?

The big issue has been consistency. Certainly, a parade of quality starts from the rotation would go a long way to righting the ship.

But, the lack of quality from the lineup is the most troubling development so far. Consider this weekend: Saturday, the Giants were nearly no-hit, then followed that up with a 3 run out burst to start the game Sunday, and then proceeded to mail it in for the remainder of the game.

That’s 17 innings of nothing, and one 3-run outburst.

I know Posey’s been out and that changes things, but he seems set to come back this week, and so here’s the suggestion for the lineup:

  • Nunez 3B
  • Panik 2B
  • Posey C
  • Belt 1B
  • Pence RF
  • Crawford SS
  • Marrero/Whoever LF
  • Span CF

This is the way forward for a variety of reasons. First, this brings balance to the L/R issues the Giants face at times. This lineup goes R/L/R/L/R/L/R/L/Pitcher.

Second, as much as I like the Belt at the 2-hole experiment, the Giants desperately need him in the middle of the lineup, there’s no getting around it. He’s paid to be a run producing first basemen, let him do it.

Third, Panik is the platonic ideal of a 2-hole hitter, and he seems to have put his post-concussion issues way behind him: release the Panik!

Fourth, Posey should hit third. I know Bochy likes him as the anchor and run producer/clean up hitter, but he’s a 3 hitter, and let’s all get on with it.

Fifth, Nunez is not the greatest leadoff hitter from an on-base standpoint, but he is the most athletic/dangerous guy they can put in this spot and when he does get on base it changes the game. Span get’s dropped.

Finally, not only does this balance left/right, I think this arrangement also gives the lineup more depth, especially 1-6.

Also, it would be awesome if we could get 4-5 quality starts in a row.

Go Giants.

So Far, So Meh #sfgiants #2017

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, and I expect to be blogging less this year, so our weekly recaps will probably look a bit different. But here we are, and away we go!

The Giants are, as of today, 3-5, and they have given us glimpses of hope and more than a few things to worry about.

Let’s start with the worry:

  • The bullpen. Hmmm, I seem to remember there was some sort of issue with the bullpen last year, let me check, um…OH SWEET JESUS…yeah, it was pretty bad. So far, it hasn’t been horrible, but it also hasn’t been great. The good news is that Mark Melancon is settling down into his new digs here and, my expert opinion is that with the 9th inning locked down, the other pieces should fall into place and this will prove to be a servicable ‘pen.
  • That being said, it was an odd thing to go with one lefty, and that lefty being Ty Blach. Why isn’t Ty Blach in AAA, starting every day, keeping himself sharp to take over for Matt Cain? Why no Josh Osich, no Stephen Okert? These are two guys who need to pitch in the big leagues and get the experience and build trust with Bochy. I know the Will Smith injury is all part of this, but still. This is odd!
  • Sometimes Matt Moore/Jeff Samardzija can suck and sometimes they can be great. Sometimes in the same game (looking at you Jeff). I’m still very bullish on both of them (more in a few)
  • Matt Cain sucks. I need to go vomit. I actually typed that. But it’s true. I’ve been as hyped about a Matt Cain resurgence as anyone in Giantsland, but I’m over it now. I just don’t see it happening. I would love to be wrong, but 2012 is now 5 years ago, and that was the last time we really saw good Matt Cain.
  • LF. Left field has produced 2 hits in the last 2 games, which is 2 more than the first 6. I still have to believe that Mac Williamson is the every day left fielder before this over, but what do I know. The Giants are taking a “throw the pasta against the wall and see what sticks” with Parker and Marrero, and now signing Melvin Upton and Drew Stubbs. LF will be weird for a while.
  • The lineup, overall, is nice, but there are not a lot of dingers. This worries me. Also, Posey took one in the head today.

Reasons to not worry/Reasons for Hope:

  • The bullpen (see the good news I shared above).
  • The starting pitching. Bumgarner and Cueto look as good as ever, and I am convinced Matt Moore is going to have a huge year. Samardzija is still a bit of a wild card in my mind, but I tend to be mostly positive that year 2 could be even better than year 1.
  • Brandon Belt is off to a great start.
  • Brandon Crawford is a stud.
  • Joe Panik is back.
  • Eduardo Nunez is off to a great start.
  • Seems like Posey should be fine.

Overall, a 3-5 is not how anyone wanted the year to start. I’m convinced, though, that this is a good team that will ride 4 above average starting pitchers to the postseason.

Let’s enjoy the ride together. See you next week!