Bruce Bochy may be the man who masterminded World Series triumphs in both 2010 and 2012 for the San Francisco Giants, but, in light of the Giants’ recent struggles, is Bochy constructing a losing lineup? The Giants possess the seventh largest payroll in all of baseball, but have a lineup and bench so thin, it’s quite hard to believe.
All season long, despite some terrific spells of form, Bochy has been naming rather, interesting – to say the least – lineups. Match the plethora of injuries with the lack of depth on the roster, and, in fairness, putting out a dominant lineup day after day is easier said than done. Regardless, after another disappointing display last night, the finger is being firmly pointed at Bochy.
For example, last night the Giants played the series opener against the Kansas City Royals, with southpaw Jason Vargas being sent to the mound. Brandon Crawford who has been crushing left handed pitching all year, was hit ninth. Yes, ninth. Crawford has a .313/.392/.509 slashline against lefties. Crawford has a .196 isolated power against lefties. Crawford has a 143 wRC+ against lefties.
If it isn’t bizarre enough already, you should see who was hitting ahead of ‘B-Craw.’ Rookie Matt Duffy who has only six-big-league-ABs against left handers was one. Joaquin Arias and Juan Perez, who combine for a wRC+ of 114, were two others. Yes, that’s right – Arias and Perez together are no where near as productive as Crawford alone. Crawford batted ninth.
The ultimate depiction of Bochy’s failure to construct a lineup of any threat has to be Gregor Blanco. Blanco has a .238 batting average, a .303 slugging percentage, a BABIP of .300 and a pedestrian 84 wRC+. Ultimately, Blanco hasn’t been very good at baseball. Yet – Bochy has hit the struggling outfielder leadoff a disgraceful 26 times, and second a ridiculous seven times – Blanco’s wRC+ whilst batting second is 27. I don’t get it. I don’t think Bochy does either.
However, is it really fair to place all the blame on Boch? Our front office, as previously mentioned, own the seventh highest payroll in baseball, and it isn’t really evident. While most teams were doing everything they could to improve their roster prior to the trade deadline, Brian Sabean was busy signing Dan Uggla, who, like Blanco, isn’t good at baseball. As Grant Brisbee, of McCovey Chronicles, said of Uggla, “He can’t hit. At Least he can’t field either.”
The Giants have no depth. Our neighbours and rivals across the bay in Oakland have made inspired moves for underrated and highly effective players like Craig Gentry. We, on the other hand, called up Travis Ishikawa from Triple-A-Fresno. The polar opposite of an inspired move. The past has been thrilling. Two World Series rings in four years is amazing, but it simply doesn’t compensate for the complete and utter failure of Bruce Bochy and the Giants front office thus far in 2014.
There is a chance to turn things round, yet. With players like Alex Rios clearing revocable waivers, and others like Ichiro Suzuki having been placed on waivers, there are plenty of options available to strengthen the team. If we add some depth, and Bochy can actually construct a good lineup – things could change fast, and boy, do they need to.