6.30.2010

Fixing the Giants

My main issue with how the San Francisco Giants are muddling through this season is not that they aren't winning games they should be winning, it isn't that they are on a pace to ground into more double plays than any other team in history, its that they look bad doing it. The Giants aren't even playing good baseball and losing, they are playing shoddy, crap baseball and looking like oafish amateurs doing it.

I can't get that image of Pablo Sandoval attempting to get back to second last night and instead he ended up flopping around a few feet from the base, rolling on his big belly and getting tagged out.


I heard a stat on KNBR last night on the drive home that's also stuck with me. Pablo Sandoval has grounded into nine double plays on the very first pitch he's seen. Let that sink in for a moment. The team grounds into more double plays than any other team in history to this point and they show no signs of easing up on the rally killing GIDP.

Speaking of rally killers, it is time to sit Aaron Rowand down for a few games. He's a good defensive player but his offense is pathetic and he's swinging and missing with far, far too much regularity.

Bengie Molina is a great guy, a big heart, great attitude and a very positive role model for younger players. But he's also incredibly slow, like ESPN and Chris Berman making fun of you slow, and his bat has been largely absent all season. He's not an everyday player anymore, he needs to be a bat off the bench, a late inning replacement. The Giants have Buster Posey ready, willing and more than able to handle the pitching staff behind home. He's not a future stud, he's a right now stud and the Giants need him.

Madison Bumgarner should be the 5th man in the rotation regardless of what happens with Todd Wellemeyer. MadBum is a future stud who can get an early start on that legacy this season. He's legit, he's going to be a #1 or #2 man in the rotation before too long, either here or somewhere else that needed a great pitcher and had a great bat to trade for him. Actually, I don't think MadBum should be a trade option because he's so close to being permanently added to the staff. There are other blue chips in the farm system to use as trade bait to get what the Giants really need.

And that is a bat. One big bat would gel the lineup tremendously. Aubrey Huff's been a fantastic pick up, he's been the most solid player in the lineup all season. More of the team needs to emulate his approach at the plate. But Huff is not going to knock 40 home runs, he's not the anchor a lineup needs, he is not white Barry Bonds. Which is fine, he doesn't need to be but the team still needs that big scary bat in the middle of the lineup.

The Giants should also seriously consider a short AAA stint for Pablo. He's pressing so hard right now that his odds of success are going down with each AB rather than up. He needs to loosen up and lighten up (literally, drop some pounds, Pablo, your career and knees will thank you later). Pablo, nothing tastes as good as victory so put down the chicken wing. Heck, maybe think about getting into the gym and work to convert that flab to muscle. You've got the raw talent, mold it into something that looks like a ball player, please!

The rotation has hit a little bit of a bad spell right now which makes every other weakness look that much worse. Lincecum hasn't pitched like he's pitched over the last two years, Zito started off the season looking outstanding and, overall, has been pretty solid but wobbly in his last couple of outings, Cain was looking like an early Cy Young candidate earlier this month and now is sub-500 on his record. And Sanchez has the stuff to win and dominate but he's just not doing it, he feels and looks more like a thrower than a pitcher and that needs to change.

The Giants as they currently stand are not going to do anything this season. Even if they do squeak into the playoffs, they'll get bounced by the first team they face.

Here are some easy to follow tips, in case Bruce Bochy is scanning the blogosphere looking for inspiration:
- Sit Rowand, Molina and Pablo. Pablo needs to get his head on straight again so his sitting should be a short term thing, Rowand and Molina need to have their fundamental job descriptions rewritten with "every day player" crossed out and replaced with "situational and defensive replacement player". I'm not saying Aaron or Bengie are bad guys, they are both stand up gamers but they need to step aside to get the younger guys playing time.
- Write up a line up and then stick with it for a week at a time. The never-ending shuffling of the line up to find the magic formula that works does nothing but keep your players unsettled.
- All else being equal, go with youth over veteran players and ride the hot hand.

My humble submission for the Giants standard lineup looks like this:
Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Sandoval, Uribe, Posey, Burrell/Scheierholtz, Renteria, pitcher. Unless there's a big bat signed, this is about the best arrangement we've got available. And yes, this is presuming that Pablo goes and gets his head and his bat right and starts contributing more than terrible looking belly flop slides.

Until the Giants start putting a major league quality product out on the field, they'll continue to flail and fail and ground into more and more double plays. And somebody really needs to tell Bochy to quit going with the old guys all the damned time. Also, tell the guys going up to hit to work the damned count and work together as a team to drive up the opposing pitcher's pitch count. No more one pitch GIDP's, okay?

And, last suggestion, how's about sitting whoever first pitch hits into a double play? Just an idea.
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