The Giants have been struggling mightily since the calendar flipped from June to July, and a big reason for those struggles has been the play of the offense. They've had multiple guys go through slumps at the same time in recent weeks but all that came to a halt on Friday night at AT&T as the Giants had a historic night at the plate.
|Duffy relevant in ROY chase|
Facing what appears to be one of the most sought after commodities of this trade season, Cole Hamels, the Giants surprisingly put forth their best offensive performance of the season, scoring 15 runs, but also set a San Francisco Giants record with 22 hits in the game. 3 different players had four-hit games, and all three of them really needed it. None perhaps more than Justin Maxwell, who's roster spot may be in jeopardy as the trade deadline approaches and the Giants' apparently searching for outfield depth, needed the breakout and he definitely got it. He went 4-5 with 3 doubles, helping distance his batting average from the dreaded "Mendoza Line". Also, one of the younger guys in the lineup who had run into a big of a fun lately, Matt Duffy, came into the game hitting .172 this month so seeing him bust out was also a welcome sight. Even Angel Pagan, who arguably has been this team's biggest weak link offensively in recent weeks as he battles multiple nagging injuries, got it going with a 3-hit, 3-run, 2-RBI evening himself. Hunter Pence's grand slam and Joe Panic's two-run blast into the water (on multiple bounces have you) were the two big flies of the night. Coincidentally, Barry Bonds was hanging around the team talking batting during BP today.
|So far, so good for Cain|
So, after the huge offensive outburst, what does that change as we approach the All-Star break and with the trade deadline looming just a few short weeks away? Absolutely nothing. Sure, pretty much everything clicked for them against a top-line starting pitcher and it's easy to ride that high into thinking the Giants are invincible but let's not forget, the team was just 1-7 this month before Friday's game, and even though it was spectacular, it was just one game. With Matt Cain and Jake Peavy each coming back in recent weeks and each throwing pretty well in the process, it has eliminated a little bit of the starting pitching needs. However, these two are very fragile right now and after both missed all of or most of the first half, it's tough to gauge exactly what they'll give them down the stretch. They could thrive because they're fresh and healthy but you never know. Right now, even with Lincecum and Hudson shelved, the need in the rotation isn't urgent, but getting another capable arm (not necessarily a front-line guy) would provide insurance.
They've got MadBum, Heston, Vogey, Cain and Peavy. That's a stud, a rookie, a 37 year-old who was on his last legs up until about 6 weeks ago and two guys who haven't thrown much at all this year. Of course there are still the two Tim's on the shelf but neither of those guys were exactly dealing before going down and the Giants may decide to use Lincecum in relief for the stretch run. In other words, after MadBum, if the Giants did make it into a playoffs series scenario, I have no idea who Bochy would use or in what order. Probably Heston and Vogey if the season ended now, but Cain and Peavy have plenty of time to work themselves into that discussion as well.
Despite their July struggles (up until Friday night that is), there's no one area that this team absolutely NEEDS
to upgrade, but at just one game over .500 and 6 games back of the Dodgers in the West, they could certainly use a shot in the arm, or two. Nori Aoki is expected back later this month and at which time the Giants hope to be working with a full deck offensively. They haven't played many games with all their starters in their, especially since Matt Duffy took over at third, but once everyone is out there,they don't have many places to put a possible offensive addition. Therefore I don't think they'll be looking for a huge splash, rather maybe another 4th outfield type. Pagan has some injury issues and has been largely unproductive over the last 6 weeks and he very well could need a DL stint just to alleviate some of his nagging issues at some point. Gregor Blanco has been a stud in the 4th outfield role, having perhaps his best season so far, but after him, it's Justin Maxwell, and the Giants may feel they can upgrade there. Also, in the infield, I feel like there are plenty of options out there that would pose significant upgrades to Joaquin Arias, who has steadily forgotten how to hit.
|SF Could Use Papelbon|
Also, this bullpen isn't exactly dominant right now and with the way this pitching staff can't seem to go more than 5-6 innings per start consistently, they need quality depth. Hopefully Jeremy Affeldt comes back strong soon cause right now, the Giants are using a lot of Kontos and Hunter Strickland and those guys are going to wear down. Sergio Romo has hit a rut recently (4 runs allowed in last 2.2 innings) and it's caused Bochy to use him just a couple times over the last two weeks. They really need him to be that sub-3.00 ERA version of himself in order to help lock that 8th inning down. I know Strickland and Kontos have been solid, but I think Bochy will feel a lot more confident using someone with a little more experience in that set-up role down the stretch and hopefully into October. If Romo can't become that guy, they could certainly be in the market for a right-handed late reliever. One option could be a guy who's in town now, Philly closer Jonathan Papelbon. Imagine having the ability to use Casilla wherever, and letting Papelbon hold down the ninth?