Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Touching Bottom

The Giants touched bottom in Philadelphia, leading 4-0 on a Cueto 3-hitter in the 7th, losing in 12 innings 5-4.  With a day game tomorrow.

Cueto gave up--what else?--two homers and once again Duffy's third base replacement's error ultimately cost them the game.

And yet, the Dodgers got blown out, and the Giants are unaccountably still in first place.

 I say they touched bottom instead of hit bottom because they didn't hit much of anything after the fourth inning, against a losing team's losing bullpen.

The only question now is whether, having touched bottom, they stay there.  This is looking like a discouraged team in disarray, a team that is not a team anymore.  Even through the radio it seemed once the game was tied they didn't believe they'd win it.

You have to feel for Cueto, who seemed near tears after the game.  Nobody can figure out what's going on.  They keep saying, it happens, it's baseball, but they don't sound like they believe it anymore.

The last place Phillies beat their two top starters.  Sound familiar?

Apart from being haunted by giving up their best third base glove, the guy they traded Duffy for is making his first start tomorrow.  No pressure or anything.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Here Comes the Grump

Infield of Dreams
The problem of what's been happening to the Giants is what's been happening to the Giants.  Their pitching giving up tons of homers, two homers by the same hitter more than once, and a hitter with three homers in one game--pretty much unheard of in recent Giants seasons.  Their hitting wilting with runners in scoring position.  Managing to avoid being no-hit by one to a journeyman pitcher up from the minors that morning.  And the baserunning indignity of a triple play against them--and a particular triple play that no one can remember seeing before.

Add to that the uncharacteristic errors--or at least, they used to be uncharacteristic.  And the kind of bullpen failures, especially in the 8th and 9th, that just didn't used to happen to the Giants, not so regularly for sure.

So how does the front office respond?  By trading away the linchpin of the best defensive infield in at least the division, for an iffy starting pitcher, and depleting future choices (and a solid third string catcher) for an iffy left handed reliever, who in Bochy's scheme, is usually a specialist who faces one or two batters.

It all came back to bite them on the first day of the rest of their season in Philadelphia, when Duffy's replacement made a costly error at third that led to four unearned runs, and the reliever put the tying and winning runs on base in the 8th inning, after the hitters had come back from a six run deficit.  To eventually lose the thing by five runs anyway, to the Phillies, about as bad as the Reds, who swept the Giants quite recently.

The announcing team and the pr people and the bleacher site all paint a rosy picture of these trades, but I do not.  I do not like them.  I would like to be proven wrong.  But that hasn't begun to happen yet.

I admit that part of this disappointment is personal.  I'm going to be in the Bay Area in a couple of weeks and plan to catch at least one game.  I'd recently calculated the injury rehab schedule to tell me  that I would quite possibly see the starting infield I love and longed to see in person--Duffy, Crawford, Panik and Belt, plus Posey.  I'm crushed that I never will have that chance.

Monday, August 01, 2016


It's been a long time since the San Francisco Giants traded away a fan favorite.  The highest profile position player they've lost was the Panda, and he left them.  They've traded some pitchers and failed to sign Tim Lincecum.  But mostly they managed to acquire players through their farm system and by trading minor league prospects.

That changed today, when they traded one of the mainstays of their popular infield, third baseman Matt Duffy.  It's a risky move, beyond the sour taste it leaves.  They traded for pitcher Matt Moore, another in the line of pitchers with past potential but recent troubles.  That was the pattern before the season started, and arguably Johnny Cueto is the proof that it can work, while Jeff S. is still a question mark.

Both Moore and the other new pitching acquisition, reliever Will Smith, have shown talent but are under-performing this year.  In dealing a solid everyday player--one who fit perfectly in that infield, on and off the field--the Giants take a tremendous risk, and in that trade and the trade for Smith, are fast depleting the young talent in their farm system, which has served them so well recently--including giving them Matt Duffy.

The Giants had earlier acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez, whose bat made an immediate impact.  But he too is something of a reclamation project going forward.  He looks to be the starting third baseman now, perhaps alternating with rookie Conor Gillaspe until their minor league phenom Arroyo is ready.

Dealing for pitchers is more of a risk always, and the impact on the fan sentiment that after all drives dollars to the ballpark is really risky if they don't perform, specifically when there's somebody missing from the everyday lineup, a player that fans--especially young fans--really looked forward to seeing.   Moreover, it's not clear how a left handed reliever helps the bullpen all that much.  Unless he's a closer.

By the way, I'm not among those who see Cain and Peavy as weak starters in the rotation.  They may not be able to get very deep in the game, but they've pitched as well recently as any of the other starters.  Jeff S. especially.

The Giants also traded Andrew Susac, who was stuck in the minors because the Giants carry only two catchers.  It isn' t all that rare for a team to need that third catcher, and right away.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Francisco Luriano, and I detect some hometown dissatisfaction with recent personnel moves.  I'm not following the team that closely but they do seem to be dealing more than usual.

But that's baseball these days, I guess.  The Dodgers have added some rent-a-team philosophy since their buy-a-team hasn't worked out, but all that rarely does.  You build a team, and even with some vital late season acquisitions in their World Series years, the Giants built a homegrown infield that was among the best in the league.  And now they've broken it.