San Francisco Giants backers have kept the faith well over two months. Even as 2014 begins to feel more like Titanic or Hindenburg disasters. A journey which started auspiciously, but concluded tragically. The Giants were 42-21 at one point in 2014. Now in mid-August, the Giants continue to lean on consolations of being within striking distance from the Los Angeles Dodgers and a wild card berth.
Since June, followers of Giants baseball have been coerced into taking solace that several months remained and there was plenty of games for a turnaround. It’s accurate and valid. However, being outplayed in every fashion during a five game losing streak, positive sentiment is fading as August creeps towards September.
Kansas City mopped up San Francisco over a weekend’s time. It wasn’t necessarily a sweep that alters perception. For me, it occurred when Dave Righetti conferred with Tim Lincecum during a mound visit. In that visit, Adam Duvall, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, and Pablo Sandoval joined in on the conference. Three minor leaguers doing their best to compete, but is that what the Dodgers have to fend off for a pennant?
As in 2013, injuries began hampering San Francisco. Angel Pagan’s nerve problem in his back left a vacancy in the leadoff spot. The Giants went 18-26 without Pagan. Brandon Belt was dealt a hand similar to Ryan Vogelsong last year.
Done in by a Los Angeles Dodger no less, Paul Maholm derailed Belt’s momentum on an inside pitch that broke his thumb in early May. Belt was tied for third in N.L. home runs with nine before he went down.
Matt Cain never got on a roll and his troublesome elbow may explain his 2-7 record and 4.18 ERA. Bone chips and an inability to fully extend his pitching arm since high school finally caught up with the 29-year-old. The Giants are down one of their most consistent and dependable arms.
Jake Peavy has thrown well as a Giant, but he’s not the kind of stop-gap you’d want to replace for a $120 million pitcher. Not a Peavy in his mid-thirties no less.
Brian Sabean is one of the most innovative and efficient general managers in today’s game. With his emphasis and proven track record in discovering pitching talent, the Cain extension may be the next large contract spent on a pitcher to implode.
Aaron Rowand was a failure. So was Mark DeRosa because of wrist surgeries that ruined his two-year contract. I’d still prefer Sabean and his front office take a flier on a free agent position name for a multi-year signing. He hasn’t impressed in this department for a considerable time. He’s liable to eventually connect on one.
There may not be one 2015 potential free agent position guy deemed a franchise changer. Ben Zobrist must be one of the more alluring candidates for the Giants. A skilled fielder who can play multiple spots and is a proven big league hitter not only in the regular season, but in October too.
It would behoove the Giants to eradicate sentimental contract extensions. Contracts for Aubrey Huff and Marco Scutaro left many flummoxed. Juan Uribe’s $21 million showed plenty of his infirmities and unworthiness of such a contract. Yet, he’s bested Huff and Scutaro in his past two seasons in Los Angeles.
It’s hard to let cornerstones like Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum walk. They are beloved players who have played a vital role. Question is at what cost? Sabean has found plenty pitching before and he can do so via a cheaper route. Running a team is a business, as much as it intertwines entertaining fans and winning.
If the coffers are to be opened, do it by overpaying a legitimate slugger or by dealing for one. Giancarlo Stanton is this era’s version of Vladimir Guerrero. A stud outfielder with power the Giants covet, but have difficulty acquiring. News outlets report Boston is heavily interested in Stanton. No surprise there since the Red Sox and Marlins have pulled a big name deal like this in 2005 when Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez were swapped for Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett. Stanton isn’t a 2015 free agent, but as his arbitration years finalize, Miami knows it likely will be unable to afford his services.
The Giants haven’t pried a free agent power bat or traded for one since hometown star Barry Bonds left Pittsburgh. Even then, Bonds was originally drafted by San Francisco out of Serra High School in San Mateo, only to pass up the contract offer. Dominant pitching talent will keep you in numerous games, but at some juncture the sport mandates offense like any other to win.
Waiting for Gregor Blanco to morph into Angel Pagan, Dan Uggla to nullify his strike out woes, and calling up neophyte prospects doesn’t bode well much-needed offense. Neither did Jeff Francoeur, Tyler Colvin, and Dan Uggla these past two seasons.
You can keep it positive, wish, then hope some more. All of a sudden, a six game chasm exists between you and the division leader in a moment’s notice. The San Francisco Giants have arrived in such a predicament.