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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Slumping in SoCal

The Giants got off to a quick start at home vs. the Brewers. Taking 2 of 3 games and pitching brilliantly in the process. However, since they've travelled south after that first set, they have hit a wall, as they aren't hitting, throwing or picking up the ball the way they were for most of the spring and that opening series.

I'm not too the surprised that some of the hitters have slumped over the past few days. In 3 of the teams last 4 games, they've gone up against some of the better arms in the National League (Chad Billingsley, Jake Peavy and Chris Young). The offense has mustered only 8 runs in the 4 games so far on the road trip, 6 of those runs coming in the first two. Randy Winn and Fred Lewis seem like the only batters who are seeing the ball well right now. Everybody else is scuffling. Defensively, things have been a nightmare on the trip as well. Lewis made repeated mistakes in the finale in San Diego, costing the Giants and Tim Lincecum 3 runs and ultimately the ballgame. Pablo Sandoval has also taken some strides backwards after putting together a solid stretch of games at third base to start the year. Sandoval is still learning third base and it's becoming apparent that he's got some work to do still. The scary part about his start is that he's now dipped below the Mendoza-line with the bat, and he's supposed to be an offensive catalyst. Right now, he's not earning his worth at third base and he's got to start doing so, sooner than later otherwise he's going to really dig himself a hole. I'd say Wednesday nights game would be a nice time to site the "Big Panda" down for a night and let him take in a game from the bench. The same can be said for another youngster who has seemed overwhelmed at times in this first week, and that's Emmaneul Burris. After having a lightning spring to win the second base job, Burris has looked like a completely different player since games started counting for real. Burris is just 2 for 20 so far and has really looked over matched with the bat in his hands. If Kevin Frandsen can get going in Fresno, he could get the call-up here in another week or so if Burris doesn't rebound.

So no, it's not a shock to any that the offense and defense have struggled in southern California, but what is surprising, and scary to some Giants fans, is that the teams' starting pitching has looked just as horrendous as those other units. Although you can't blame him for every run he's been credited for (Fred Lewis and Eugenio Velez misplayed balls that really cost him in San Diego), Tim Lincecum has not been Cy-like over his first 2 starts; carrying a 7.56 era and a 2.40 WHIP. The teams new acquisition, Randy Johnson, hasn't fared any better as he's sitting with an 11.42 era and 1.85 WHIP after his two starts. Most of Johnson's trouble has come on a few pitches though (one to Yovanni Gallardo and one to Orlando Hudson), while Lincecum has just looked out-of-sync since the very first inning of opening day. The only starting pitcher who can say they've turned in a valiant effort is Matt Cain. The 24 year-old righty went 7 strong in his season debut, earning a win. Cain will go in Wednesday night's game in LA and hopefully be the teams stopper and end this 4 game losing streak.

Now, the Giants have lost 4 in a row, but it's no time to go into panic mode. This team has under-performed in the first week and things should only get better. They do need to start doing some things differently though. I'd like to see Bochy mix the up the lineup for Wednesday's game vs. the Dodgers. I wouldn't mind seeing Aaron Rowand and Travis Ishikawa moved up and Edgar Renteria and Pablo Sandoval move down. Sandoval is killing this team with his first-pitch swinging in the five hole and was really an "easy out" over the opening week. He and Edgar Renteria need to be at the bottom of the order. Move 'Ishi into the 5th spot and Rowand up into the two spot and the Giants would have their 5 hottest hitters in the front of the batting order. Also, next time Bochy thinks Rowand needs a day off, I hope he considers moving Randy Winn over to center and putting Nate Schierholtz in right field, something he should have clearly done in the finale in San Diego. Eugenio Velez is a poor defensive center fielder. He can handly left and is servicable at second, but don't as an in-experienced outfielder to patrol a huge center field in Petco Park. Not too mention, Nate Schierhotlz, the teams best hitting prospect for most of the decade, is itching to get himself a start and a steady bunch of at-bats. Any time an outfielder needs a rest, Schierholtz should be figured into the equation.

In other roster notes, the Giants signed Dallas McPherson to a minor league deal over the weekend. I love this move, even if chances are low that McPhereson will ever do much for the Giants. The dude hit 42 bombs in AAA ball last season and clearly has a power bat the Giants roster could use and he's still only 28, and he's just now coming into his physical prime. If Sandoval continues to struggle at third and McPherson shows up hot in Fresno, then Sabean and Bochy could entertain the idea of bringing up D-Mac for some at-bats at the hot corner. Andris Torres has done nothing for this team in the first week and I think his roster spot could be put to better use right now, whether that be another infielder to help Sandoval and Burris, or another bullpen arm to help the early over-worked bullpen.
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6 Comments:

  • At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Giants fans be patient... The team will do better. Their not going to face these aces every night.

     
  • At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Jessie said…

    I couldn't agree more about Velez in center field. The fact that Rowand "needed" a rest day so early in the season is such a bogus excuse. I'm actually pretty surprise Velez made it to the bigs. I think he still needs to learn some defense at AAA and Schierholtz should have in the line up.

     
  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Velez is a little better hitter than Torres and is a little more versatile, so I wouldn't mind seeing him stay as a Pinch Runner/hitter/utility guy, but don't force him to play places that he's not comfortable, like cf. He's ok at second and left field, but even though he has speed, his instincts and experience don't translate well to center IMO... Both Winn and Fred Lewis have had time at center field throughout their careers so I'd prefer either of those guys to Velez, and Schierholtz needs to start getting some at-bats, so it really does work out all the way around...

    I expect a roster move or two before the weekend series vs. AZ if things don't get better for the final two in LA.

     
  • At 3:01 PM, Blogger The Thrill said…

    Giants looked awful over the weekend against the Pads, and a terrible start against the Dodgers. I hope Cain can turn it around and get some run support to shut down the Dodgers.

    Tim Lincecumwill be his normal self in his 3rd start..Lets all cross our fingers!

     
  • At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a great game last night! Didn't Kershaw pitch a gem??? I was worried that SF was going to put away the game after that 3 run homer but it's nice to see the Dodgers battle back!! Way to go Dodger Blue!

    ...Dodger Fan

     
  • At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Desiree said…

    Check out this cool Tim Lincecum "The Freak" T-shirt!

    http://www.zazzle.com/tim_lincecum_the_freak_tshirt-235882186330220087

     

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