Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And you thought it couldn't get worse

OK, so I thought that. And then it did. Get worse, I mean. Couldn't hit before, no reason to expect they can hit now, but with the pitching falling apart the wheels are really coming off. At 3-0, the Giants had some "chances" and even got it to 3-1 and another "chance." Carlos Beltran was the goat both times, getting dispatched on six pitches by Matt Garza. Then WillyMo and Ramon Ramirez gave up the ghost and that was the game. The Giants were in a desperate offensive state when they went out and got Beltran. They gave up a lot for a two month rental. He was hitting .289/.391/.513 at the time, so it wasn't unreasonable to expect he could help the lineup. He not only went into the tank, he got hurt, and it appears he won't be getting much out of the tank soon. Even if he has a .900 OPS in September, it won't matter. The Giants need his bat now, and they needed it as soon as they traded for him. It is one of those things that I can't get too upset about. Sometimes you have to "go for broke." Guess what? It doesn't always work. (Read Grant Brisbee's "Assigning Blame" for a bit of perspective.) The much-maligned Giants brain trust took a bold step to help the team and it has been a bust, plain and simple. You can argue about the cost, but the idea that Beltran would revert to Aubrey Huff as soon as he put on the orange-and-black was pretty far-fetched. But it happened. You know something? Shit happens. Tim Lincecum gave up three home runs in a game for the first time. Ever. (He still the best in baseball at preventing homers.) He also quit. Right there on the mound, in front of 40,000-plus and a hell of a lot of TV viewers, he called it a night. Never thought I'd see that. (I expect he'll get over it and bounce right back and I bear the lad no ill will.) The Giants have lived on magic and gumption and defying the odds, so it shouldn't surprise us too much that the regression gods got pissed off and spewed wrath and venom upon the team and the faithful.

The 2010 Giants taught us that if you pitch like hell and play good, solid ball in the field you can win with a below-average lineup. The 2011 Giants taught us that you can't ignore the rest of the equation when you build a team around pitching. You still have to have good fielders. And you can't have the worst offense in the game. You can't. It doesn't work. Losing 2-1 or 3-2 is still losing. The Giants had some great luck last year with injuries--not that they didn't have them, just that they were never catastrophic, and the bulk of the key guys were healthy at the end. We all know this year's club can legitimately claim a mulligan on the DL front. It has been an astonishingly bad year for injuries, and they've sapped the club's ability to bounce back in the second half. You can bitch, fairly, at Sabean for a few shoulda-coulda off-field moves, and you can bitch, fairly, at Boch for some shoulda-woulda on-field moves. But through the cold, hard lens of fact, it is clear that the players have simply not performed or not been able to perform to the level required. I hate facts. They can't be argued with. And I'm good at arguing. But there ain't no arguments left. The Giants are not playing winning baseball and they are not playing winning baseball because they aren't good enough.

And that's disappointing. I expected a tenacious defense of the crown. I can't get angry--these are my beloved Giants and they are wearing World Series Champion patches on their uniforms. I've wanted to see that my whole life! But this team is letting the division slip away. The D-Backs could come to town this weekend six games in front which would make the outcome of the three games almost moot. That is not what I expected. There are 26 more games. It ain't over. We've all seen crazy shit happen in the last few weeks of a season. No team is ever really eliminated until the math says so, no matter how improbable the turnaround. But at this point the Giants need Arizona to take a huge dump, much like San Diego's fabulous 10-game skid in 2010. It gets hard to keep the faith when it depends on such an unlikely event. Just for shits and giggles, and since I'm on a roll, lets do a little math. Say the Snakes stumble and go 10-16 or even 8-18 from here on out. The Giants would have to play .615 ball in the first case (16-10) just to tie. They'd actually win by two games in the second case, but that's .308 ball from the opposition making that happen. Those odds just look too long for me to be hopeful. Here's another thought--the Giants have given up over 100 runs (actually 104) in August, the only time this season that they've given up that many in a month. The previous high was April with 96. (Compare with 2010.)

I'm a big fan of Dos Equis Guy and his "stay thirsty, my friends." It gets me through the tough times. I know that's a non sequitur, but it's my coda, and I'm sticking with it.



Brother Bob said...

Even the Vogelsong magic has evaporated.
Realistically, the moment Buster Posey's leg broke we were eliminated from a repeat possibility.
It's amazing we stayed in first place for as long as we did.

Khan said...

Fact: Beltran was the worst possible choice for trading a hot prospect.

I didn't like it then, and I like it even less now. If Philly can cough up their hot prospect and get a player who will last more than 2 months, even beyond the performance aspect, I don't see why the Giants couldn't have done it too.