Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Nine Back and Counting...

This is getting depressing.

Unfortunately, my point about acquiring LaTroy Hawkins keeps getting proven. Last night's game featured little offense (Hawkins can't hit now, can he?) and two runs given up by other members of the bullpen (Hawkins can't pitch all the time, can he?).

I'm assuming that Brian Sabean knows this, and that he wasn't declaring the Giants' woes fixed with the acquisition of one good middle reliever. So I'm thinking that another deal or two is forthcoming.

But for whom? And who would Sabes give up in exchange?

El Lefty believes the Giants are hunting for a left-handed bat, which does make sense, as I doubt that Michael Tucker and J.T. Snow put lots of fear into right-handed pitchers, and Ray Durham is running a sub-.700 OPS against righties so far this season when he swings from the left side of the plate.

(This was, by the way, part of the beauty of acquiring Mike Sweeney -- despite being a right-handed hitter, he's hit .317/.398/.530 over the last 3 seasons in 937 at-bats against right-handed pitching...that ain't no fluke. Oh, sorry, got sidetracked.)

But would a left-handed bat solve things? It'd help, certainly, but the odd thing about the Giants offense is that there isn't one position you can point to and say that the offensive production there is abyssmal and in need of immediate help.

Left Field - Pedro Feliz has fallen off a bit, but this should have been what we expected from him. A line of .273/.315/.459 is right in line with Feliz' abilities, and while not optimal, isn't bad enough to warrant an emergency situation to replace.

Centerfield - Jason Ellison, since slumping badly and seeing his OPS actually dip a bit below .800, has since been a bit resurgent, hitting a couple of big flies and getting back up to .317/.354/.512. We could make some issue that 100+ at-bats from the centerfield position earlier this season went to Marquis Grissom, but that's water under the bridge -- the production out of center is fine for now.

Right Field - Moises Alou has brought his numbers up to where one would hope he'd be: .273/.399/.512 is good production, and his 8 home runs and 24 RBI's are great considering he missed around 50 at-bats due to injury. No issues here.

3rd base - No, Edgardo Alfonzo is not earning his 7.5 million, and yes, we all should hope for more power out of the hot corner offensively, but really, is Fonzie in need of replacement? Who would Sabean get, exactly? Sorry, we'll just have to live with his .318/.390/.416, and admit Fonzie's not really a problem, per se. Like Feliz, these numbers should have been expected given what he's done during his time with the Giants. Hey, at least he's brought up the batting average to those Met-years level.

SS - another position where the expectations are being met. Omar Vizquel is eerily close to his line from last season (.291/.353/.388) with this year's .281/.353/.373 so far, and is actually making up for the bit less power by stealing more bases. Moving along...

2B - this position, really, is the biggest disappointment for the Giants offensively. While Ray Durham has battled nagging injuries he struggled -- that is, until recently. Another guy, like Alfonzo, who isn't earning his 7+ million, but again like Fonzie, who would replace Durham? Deivi Cruz has filled in admirably with his .309/.349/.506 line, with a chunk of that coming while filling in for Durham, so Durham's production of .278/.363/.382 isn't all that bad -- it's just not where we'd expect Durham to be. So, perhaps a small problem at 2nd base, but again, not an emergency, and Durham's been hitting better of late, so who's to say he won't bring that SLG up to expected levels by July?

1B - No, not here, either. I'm getting blue in the face repeating that this is what should've been expected, but J.T. Snow's .290/.382/.374 is what he's capable of, and actually when combined with Lance Niekro's .290/.310/.559 isn't really bad. Combine their numbers and it looks like this: .290/.375/.460, with 8 home runs and 25 RBI. No, not stellar, but when you're paying a combined 2.3 million for the position, (say it with me now) this is what you should expect.

C - this is actually a place where the production really is higher than expected, as Mike Matheny has displayed some surprising pop in running .252/.314/.432. If Matheny keeps this up through June, I'll have to fire up the grill and break out the barbeque sauce for that crow I'll have to eat.

So where would the left-handed bat go? Who would be traded to accomodate it? It's easy to see that the Giants offensive production is right about where it should be, and the only thing missing is a certain large, bald man with the number 25 on his back. This is a mediocre offensive team, because without Bonds they are a mediocre offensive team. Sabean could acquire a new bat, but would have to jettison the current player at the position that new bat would be playing, and quite honestly, would probably have to part with another young pitching prospect on top of that.

Sabes is in a very tough position right now, with the Giants frankly looking like they need more help than he can provide. Remember, the bullpen and rotation could use help, too, and the Giants are one more loss and one more Padre win from being in a double-digit deficit.


Bud said...

Good points, but you know, some teams can actually make 3 runs stand up. For like, the duration of the game. And even win.

I know that sounds radical, but I remember when the Giants could actually win games without having to outslug the pitching staff. The inability of the Giants pitching to hold a lead -- any lead -- is beyond frustrating. This is the worst bullpen I've ever seen (including the woeful '96 team), and the starters seem allergic to consistency. I think any moves Sabean makes will have to address the bullpen, which would make the starters look good by virtue of: 1) not having to pitch too long in the game in hopes that they can forego the pen; and 2) having the bullpen immediately allow each and every runner on base to score. Once the pen is fixed, maybe they can get back into this thing, but if they don't fix it, the dog days will be here before we know it.

Anonymous said...

Well, LF is traditionally the spot for poor defenders, so my vote is to move Feliz to 3B, sit Alfonzo most of the time, and find someone for LF. But who would that be? And what about when Barry comes back with his walker? Handing him a 1B mitt might help.

I still vote for waiting a month and then selling off all the old guys for whatever we can get. BUT if a move must be made, how about a starting pitcher? I'm encouraged by the recent results, but then someone can move back into the pen (Hennessey, I guess) and maybe help out that way.

Daniel said...

Bud: thinking that scoring 3 runs is enough is something best reserved for teams with better pitching staffs. The Giants only have one starter who makes that line of thinking even possible, and Jason Schmidt has been having a off/injury-marred season thus far.

For the 2nd commenter: that might not be the worst idea around, but you and I both know it will not happen -- they will not be sitting Alfonzo. Trading Alfonzo could happen, but Sabes would have to bite off a huge piece of that 7.5 million left on Fonzie's contract. But then, what do the Giants do in LF while waiting for Bonds?