Barry Zito

The Giants are not a playoff team right now

As we all sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the announcement that Jonathan Sanchez will get moved to the bullpen, it’s time to worry about more pressing problems for the San Francisco Giants. Namely, this is not a playoff team.

Playoff teams don’t shock you when they sweep 3-game series. They don’t have starting staffs as top heavy as the Giants’ rotation. They don’t have offenses that aren’t above average when it comes to power, contact or speed.

Once Sanchez becomes a long reliever they’ll have the deepest bullpen perhaps in the team’s history, which is nice. It’s really nice, actually. Figuring out who Sanchez replaces in the pen is a problem, since the Giants already have seven relievers who are performing at a fairly high to ridiculously awesome level.

Still, as Andrew Baggarly said after the game, you just don’t give up on a swing-through fastball like Sanchez’s. Also, with Randy Johnson a ticking back-injury time bomb (sorry, but you have to prepare for these things), Sanchez will probably see some more starts this season (provided Sanchez doesn’t get traded first, although trading him now makes little sense since most of his starts this season have ended with him looking like he’s about to cry).

Also, with Matt Palmer looking pretty darn good and Kevin Correia summoning the courage of a young Khalil Greene in San Francisco, the Giants probably don’t want to give up on another young borderline fifth starter. And since the team’s combined ERA sits at 3.69, pitching in general is hardly the biggest issue.

As Grant outlined in McCovey Chronicles, the Giants offense just isn’t very good. Hell, they wouldn’t have scored a run if last night’s game was held at Mays Field, as Travis Ishikawa’s home run barely cleared the wall in right-center at the much more uniformly constructed Oakland Coliseum.

Their lack of offense doesn’t just lead to a team that is unbelievably frustrating to watch a good portion of the time, but a team with no margin for error whatsoever. That’s fine when Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are pitching 8 innings and giving up a run or so, but forcing Barry Zito, Sanchez (and probably Kevin Pucetas in a week and a half) to become professional tightrope walkers isn’t exactly a recipe for 88 wins or more.

If you’ll excuse me talking out of my nether regions for a few paragraphs, the announcement that Buster Posey will spend the second half of this season in Triple-A speaks volumes. Baggs thinks there’s a better chance Madison Bumgarner sees some big league action in 2009 than Posey, and Schulman wrote:

Sabean is sticking to his plan not to bring Posey to the big-leagues anytime in 2009, unless forced to by circumstance.

“There’s no sense of urgency,” Sabean said.

I’m obviously not as connected as either beat writer, but you can still color me skeptical about these Posey-related assertions by Sabes, Baggs and, um, Schuls(?).

When Sabean says they won’t promote Posey unless circumstance forces them to, you have to wonder what those circumstances would be. Would bringing Posey all the way up only happen if Bengie Molina went on the disabled list, or for Sabes and the Giants could those circumstances stretch to include “our offense is beyond terrible, Molina wants a 3-year deal after the season and the Yankees are offering Melky Cabrera for Molina and Ramon Ortiz”?

Calm down, I know that last trade was ridiculous, but the point is this: if the playoffs are in the Giants’ future, they need to change their lineup. Ishikawa’s homer brought visions of a settled corner infield, and there are some decent hitters in the lineup. No, really. However, like the Dodgers last season, the Giants need an infusion of something, anything offensively to recharge a lineup that is currently about as powerful as a Daihatsu Charade.

Could it be Posey and another bat? Will Ishikawa somehow turn into Ryan Howard? I have no idea, but it’s clear that this team doesn’t have the juice to make the playoffs as is (even in a thoroughly mediocre National League), and nothing Sanchez will bring as a starter or in trade is going to change things all that much.

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