Sweet Sweepness

Nothing like a sweet sweep to wash away the taste of sour Melk (see what I did there). Seriously, though, that was huge, and here are the reasons why:

  1. The Giants, for the first time this year against the Dodgers, had the “big 3” lined up to pitch. Yes, Lincecum has had a terrible year. Yes, Vogelsong has beaten Kershaw twice. Yes, Zito has not killed us against the ‘Bums. But, there is something psychologically fortifying about sending out Madbum, The Freak, and Cainer and getting it done. 3 wins, a 0.87 ERA, 20.2 IP, and this is my favorite: 19 strikeouts and only 1 walk. The Dodgers are spending money and they have definitely improved their lineup over the course of the season, but the Giants have a better rotation and they showed it this week.
  2. The Giants swept the Dodgers in LA when by all accounts, at least nationally, they should have been folding in the wake of the Cabrara suspension. Losing Melky hurts, don’t get me wrong, but the Giants also won a World Series in 2010 without Pablo Sandoval. Yeah, he had a big hit against the Phillies, but he was not a significant part of that run at all. The key to that run was unbelievable starting pitching and having 2-3 guys in the lineup hot at any given time. Sometimes it was Burrell, sometimes it was Cody, sometimes it was Torres, and so it goes. The Giants still have enough firepower to get this done, IF they pitch up to their capabilities.

A couple of other thoughts:

  • Pagan is hitting great right now, Pence will be fine, Belt/Pill/etc will be adequate at first base, the real key to the Giants lineup right now is Marco Scutaro. He’s got second base and the second spot in the lineup on lock down and that makes so many other things fall into place. I think it’s helped Pagan in the lead off spot and it allows Bochy to use Arias/Crawfor/Theriot in spots where they can succeed.
  • Really, I think Hunter Pence is going to be fine.
  • I’ve never been so concerned about hamstrings in my entire life. Please hold up!
  • There is a part of me that desperately longs for Jeremy Affeldt to step and be the guy who can lock down the 9th inning. I don’t think it’s going to happen, which means let’s hope this Santiago Casilla resurgence is for real.
  • I also think it’s time to give the X-Man a shot at left field. He’s a poor man’s Pat Burrell. Let’s make this happen!

(-SB)

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Return! (A Modified Week-In-Review)

I know there hasn’t been much posting going on around here, but there has been some preparation for life altering events that have taken precedent. We’re back, though, so let’s talk some Giants.

Record Since the Break:

The Giants shot out of the gate in the second half, winning 5 in a row and 9 of their first 12. Then it got ugly with 5 straight loses. And then they went to Colorado, breathed in the thin Rocky Mountain Air, and learned how to score runs again. Thank you Rocky Mountain high.

The Dodgers improved their squad significantly at the deadline, so we are in for a dogfight. SI recently called the NL West this decade’s version of the AL East. They compared the Dodgers and their new-found wealthy owners to the Yankees, and the Giants to the Red Sox. Seeing as how that seemed to work out well for the Sox, we’ll take it. But, the point is this is a new era and the Dodgers are not messing around anymore.

The Moves:

The biggest, of course, was the trade for Hunter Pence. I like Hunter Pence. He’s weird. He looks  like a Simpson’s character. He doesn’t move around, or do really anything, like other baseball players. I love that. His rookie season he provided a huge boost to my fantasy baseball team. I am still grateful for that.

How good will he actually be? Some people fear this is Rowand, Part Deux. A situation where a player comes to AT&T and turns into a pumpkin. Others love the deal, especially since he will be around for another year.

Personally, I would rather the Giants have resigned Beltran, but that’s a whole other conversation. I think Pence will do just fine. He’s an offensive upgrade and he helps put other parts back into proper roles. I don’t mind what we gave up either.

I really like Marco Scutaro. I felt the Giants should have tried to get him this past offseason. He’s here now and he will help. A little less Crawford, a little less Theriot. Helpful.

The Giants also acquired Xavier Nady. This is an enjoyable fact because we grew up in the same town. He hit a home run off of me a long time ago when we were 13 years old that is still traveling through galaxy. He used to be a nice little platoon player. His 2008 season was actually really good. But he was cut this year by a team that doesn’t score a lot of runs. That’s not a good sign. Will he help? Unlikely. But I love the sentimental nature of X perhaps finishing his career with Giants.

The Rest of the Team:

My unofficial pitcher of the post-break so far is Timmy. He’s hasn’t been great, but he’s been better. This article shows that he’s been in-line with his career norms so far, which is HUGE. He must keep this up for the Giants to have a chance, and if he continues to improve, well all the better.

Last post I said Buster Posey needed to be the guy in the second half. So far all he’s done is this:

  • .456 AVG, 1.278 OPS, 6 HR, 26 RBI, and Melky has scored 22 times. These things are connected

Thank you Buster!

Looking Ahead:

The series in Colorado was nice, but it’s a bit of a mirage. That team is truly terrible. This week is much more of a test. 4 against the tough Cardinals, then home to face the Rockies again before some more tough games against the Nationals.

Go get ’em!

(-SB)