Starting pitching still an issue
Tim Lincecum was roasted by the D-Backs for a second straight start Wednesday night, and he once again has people wondering out loud if this is the Lincecum we're stuck with going forward. We all know how bad things were for him throughout 2012, especially the first 2/3 of the season and although he had his moments in 2013, his numbers at the end of the year left much to be desired. This is why it was so crucial for him to get off to a good start this year but instead, if his first two outings are an indication of things to come, 2013 all the sudden doesn't look so bad. He's thrown 10 innings over two starts, allowing 11 earned on 15 hits (including 4 big flies). On a positive, he's walked just 1 batter and struck out 12, so maybe it's just the curse of the D-Backs and Paul Goldschmidt, but if Timmy wants to alleviate some of this early season worrying he's putting Giants fans through, he's going to have to reel off a string of impressive starts, beginning next week Timmy hasn't been the only one who's started off the year in less than impressive fashion though as both Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong are each searching for their first victory and first quality start of 2014. Thanks to the great work by the offense, and the terrific outings from Tim Hudson and Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have gotten off to a healthy 7-3 start, but if 3/5 of their rotation continues to struggle, they aren't going to stay atop the NL West for very long.
Speaking of the offense, I really can't say enough about how they've performed through these first two weeks. Michael Morse has played a significant role early on and looks like one of the steals off the offseason so far and Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey are all looking like shoe-in All-Stars at the moment. To me, Morse's addition has caused a domino effect in the lineup, stretching it out and providing an imposing right-handed threat teams need to really account for. One can only imagine how this lineup would click if and when a healthy Marco Scutaro gets back on the field. Brandon Hicks and co. have done an admirable job in Scutaro's absence, but the Giants need their steady 2-hitter back in the lineup and on the field. Bochy said earlier in the week that Scutaro had an outside shot at returning to the team by the end of the homestand, but how effective he'll be upon his return, and how much he'll be able to play is still very much in question. If it looks like he can only play a couple games a week, I wouldn't be opposed to them going out on the market and looking for more of an everyday guy. I know it's a little early to be talking replacements, but let's face facts; Scutaro's approaching 40 and cranky backs at that age don't really just go away without lengthy rest. Having a backup plan would seem like a smart idea, and one I'm sure the Giants' brass has been pondering since early spring.
Now, as far as backup plans, April 10th is way too early to be putting them into effect, but you can be sure the Giants' brass are exploring alternative options for the fifth spot in the rotation (Lincecum's $17.5M price-tag pretty much assures they'll try and ride him out) and 2nd base. There's a ton of pitchers who will hit the market over the next few months, and the Giants may even look internally at guys like Yusmiero Petit and Edwin Escoabr should Vogey continue to falter. They could take a much more wait-and-see approach at second though, as they have Joaquin Arias and Hicks filling in admirably for the time being and still have to see how Scutaro's back responds once he returns. If it comes down to it though, there are second base options out there on the trade market (Daniel Murphy and Danny Espinosa are two that immediately come to mind).