Now that the San Francisco Giants’ offense has been exposed for the house of cards we all hoped it wasn’t but were pretty sure it was before the season started, we’re back to square one. Which means everyone panics, throws up their hands and offers a bunch of insane ideas that make little sense unless you have KNBR on speed dial.
We should release Andres Torres and bring up Darren Ford! Start John Bowker every day! Play Eugenio Velez more because he’s a playmaker! DFA Velez because he doesn’t know how to play baseball! Put Nate Schierholtz in center! Have the Giants’ front office pretend they’re a gang of Somalian pirates and steal Carl Crawford away from the Rays!
OK, that last one is my insane idea.
If you ask a Giants announcer, they’ll he’ll you this 3-game losing streak is just the product of an unlucky string of events that decimated the formerly new-and-improved starting lineup. He’d also probably tell you that if the youngsters would just take their opportunities and make the most of them, the Giants wouldn’t score one run per game until their gritty gamers come back from the trainer’s room.
The problem with that is we’re assuming these injury woes are temporary. Really? The Aaron Rowand beaning was a freak occurrence, but it would still be a shock if he didn’t suffer some sort of lower body or oblique injury before the year’s over. Mark DeRosa came into spring training after undergoing wrist surgery, and he’s 35. Expecting him to play 155 games this season isn’t just optimistic, it’s delusional. Freddy Sanchez was injured when the Giants traded for him, he underwent secret surgery and will be lucky to play 100 games this season. Aubrey Huff hasn’t played 100 games in the field since 2006 and nearly killed himself last night going after a foul pop. Bruce Bochy isn’t burning out Bengie Molina in the first month of the season like he did last year when Molina and Pablo Sandoval were the team’s only Major League hitters, but that doesn’t mean he won’t find himself on the shelf at some point this year (hopefully a real sturdy shelf — ZING!). Edgar Renteria is liable to fall apart at any time, and Sandoval is looking a little Bengie-ish himself. You know, in case you hadn’t noticed.
That takes care of the position players who theoretically are supposed to start nearly every day. Combine that with a group of platooning outfielders which, while serviceable, doesn’t include one guy with more than three of the five desired “tools” (besides maybe Schierholtz when his confidence isn’t shattered, which seems to be about 50% of the time over the past two years), and you have your recipe for losing ballgames at the same time your starter gives up only one single over 7 innings while striking out 10.
The frustrating thing is this should come as a surprise to no one. While the Warriors’ injury problems are almost curse-like in nature, where young players go down with freak injuries night after night, to the point where some people have wondered openly whether Golden State’s training procedures might be the problem, the Giants would be lucky to get through this season relatively injury-free. Brian Sabean (surprise surprise) continues to put together lineups based on a flimsy premise, that the players that take the field every day should be veterans who’ve been there before. The problem is that there’s a noted correlation between seeing more candles on your birthday cake and breaking down like a 1990’s Mazda.
So here’s the solution for the Giants: don’t trade for or sign anybody over 31 who isn’t a relief pitcher and hire a sports psychologist for Jonathan Sanchez, who looked about ready to quit the sport after watching the Giants flail away in the 8th inning after Schierholtz’s leadoff triple.
Here’s the solution for Giants fans: don’t get your hopes too far up. At full strength, this is a playoff team. Unfortunately, this team doesn’t look like it will be at full strength at any point this season.