It's been about a week since I posted because I made the trip to San Francisco myself to check out the damage, and tapping out an entire blog via iPhone wasn't my idea of recreation after watching baseball that made me sick.
Dinner with friends at Buca? Good fun. Pounding your fingers through the glass of a $400 smart phone? Not so much.
The Giants are back in front, and I'm convinced now more than ever that it simply can't last.
What we're seeing now is the quintesential Brian Sabean team -- with some wily "veterans" nobody wanted pulling down the rest of the squad. I was cautiously enthused after a 7-3 road trip that thrust the Giants into the driver's seat. Then they stumbled home, spit the bit on a 3-3 homestand against two teams with losing records, and held onto the lead only with the assistance of smoke and mirrors.
Let's look at the team realistically. It's sucks. Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but you have to admit that the team is flawed. Look at the line-up and tell me what the Giants really have. Huff is having a great year. Posey is gonna be really good. The rest of the team? Well, what we have here is a bunch of guys who, if they found themselves on the roster of a real contender, would hit in the lower third when (and if) they got on the field.
What's really sad is that given the state of the field and the Giants ability to pitch, they'd have a legitimate shot at winning it all if they had just an average offense. Unfortunately this team doesn't qualify. No average offense gets shut out 15 times in a season.
Even more pathetic is that this isn't exactly a situation that snuck up on the Giants, and it is one that threatens to destroy the team. When the natives get restless, there's trouble afoot. When the guy who finally puts voice to the frustration is the team's star and top draw, you're really in the tall grass.
Timmy Franchise was yanked for a pinch hitter in the fifth frame of a two-run ball game Saturday night, such is the desperation of the Giants' offense. Lincecum was livid in the dugout, and gave a glimpse into the mindset of the pitchers after the game when speaking to the Merc.
"That’s something we’ve dealt with for four years as a pitching staff,” Lincecum said. “It’s nothing new.”
And yet it never gets fixed.
The Giants' philosophy is bankrupt. "Pitching First" is one thing. "Pitching Only" doesn't work, but that's what the Giants have created. Think about it. Other than pitch, is there anything this team consistently does well?
The lack of run support the Giants give Matt Cain is the stuff of legend, but let's focus on a less-popular case. The Giants snapped their skid today behind six strong innings from the much-maligned Barry Zito. Zito earned his first win in two months, but has he pitched that badly? Not really. He's the guy fans have beaten up for four years, but....
For his career, which includes four largely-panned years in San Francisco, Zito has a record of 110-6 when given four runs or more to work with. Four years with the Giants, the same four years Lincecum spoke of. Connect the dots. Score for this guy and he's 104 games ABOVE .500. And he's the failure?
This is a poorly constructed team. Yes, I know it's shocking that I'd say such a thing.
For whatever reason, a team that isn't a power team and plays in a pitcher-friendly ball park is suddenly reliant on the home run. Two more long balls on Sunday drove in seven of the nine runs -- and one of those was a miracle shot by a guy who touched up a lefty despite hitting just .218 against southpaws this year.
Again courtesy The Merc: Since that miracle rally in LA the Giants have played 15 games. In eight of them the Giants homered and averaged six runs a game. In the seven during which they didn't homer, they scored six runs TOTAL. Too many chicken-or-feathers hitters.
The Giants have exceptional pitching, but they play inept defense and can't hit consistently. Despite what Bochy and Sabean say publicly, this isn't a slump. Saying this is a slump is like saying PG&E threw a small barbecue in San Bruno.
It's hard to tell sometimes where the blame lies, but we've seen managing partners change from Magowan to Neukom and it's the same old story. The one consistent face is Sabean, so he gets my vote.
The Giants had a great chance to do something special this year. You could see it at the trade deadline. Every team in contention could be had by a team that could pitch, and the Giants could pitch. All they needed was some help on offense. It never came.
They may very well reach the postseason, although I do think Colorado is the best (and most complete) team in the division and should take the West. But failure to make a move was criminal, and that's the reason they Giants aren't likely to win a ring -- blowing another year of great pitching.
Another year wasted, and 1954 was a long time ago.