The first half of the baseball season officially ended Sunday, and the Giants finished just about as badly as they could. They lost 5 of their last 6 games and have seen their pitching come unraveled a bit here in July.
|Lincecum Running Out of Rope|
After a rough three game set in Washington, I knew the Giants were heading into Pittsburgh needing a series win for morale, but they didn't fair much better vs. the Pirates than they did in Washington. They did manage to squeak out a victory in the series opener with a nice offensive output, but their offensive output Friday night was about the only positive thing to come out of this series. Tim Lincecum took the mound in the rubber match Sunday after a solid outing from Ryan Vogelsong in Saturday's loss, but Lincecum was again atrocious. If there's one Giant who needs these next 4 days off more than anyone, it's number 55. I've said since the day Lincecum started struggling that they Giants would need him to turn it around if they had serious playoff aspirations, and it's going to be time for Timmy to face the music once the 2nd half kicks off. What's making his hopeful turnaround even more prudent is the fact that Barry Zito has started to skid a little bit as well. When Zito was pitching consistently in the first part of the season, it made Lincecum's bad starts a little easier to swallow, but they don't have the offense to survive two horrific starting pitching lines per week. Again, the All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for this club.
|Romo Should Close|
Now, as they prepare to open the 2nd half, the pressure moves into the Giants front office. They have about 3 weeks to decide whether they want to shake things up with a big move like they did last season with Beltran. I don't think Sabean wanted to make another splash move like Beltran was, especially since it didn't work out so well the last time. However, after watching this team flop in July, Brian Sabean may be re-thinking the team's needs. One thing I was glad to see in Friday's game, and a big reason why they won it,is because Bochy finally gave in and used Sergio Romo in the 9th inning. Romo has been this team's most consistent reliever for 2 seasons now, and if they aren't going to add a closer via trade, I would certainly like to see Romo given the opportunity. I'd swap his and Casilla's role and let Casilla be the 8th inning right-handed specialist, but no matter what they figure out, the Giants will make a move for another reliever or two. They're always the easiest position to come by at the trade deadline and normally don't require parting with top prospects. Still, they need to figure out what they're after and what they need the most. Are they going to stick with Romo in the closers role? If so, they should be looking at set-up guys. Brad Penny has been excellent in his few outings in relief, and he's a guy I'd also expect to take on a bigger role in the second half.
The Giants are just lucky the Dodgers have been having much of the same luck, and they'll only enter the break just a game back of first place. They're going to have to use these next few days wisely though. Let any player who's not at the all-star game take the week off. They don't play again until Friday and if I were Bochy, I'd tell them not to report back until Thursday night. There's still plenty of baseball to go, but the Giants have already had multiple chances at taking control of the West this season and they just aren't doing it. Time to mix things up!