The San Francisco Giants finish their second inning of 2012 with another 9-9 record, putting them at .500 (18-18) for the season. Seven-ninths of the season remains, and that's a good thing. The first two-ninths were damn ugly. The Giants are lucky to be even, and it is once again the result of excellent pitching. Take a look at Obsessive Giants Compulsive--there's a nice breakdown of the April starts. (Matt Cain is a beast, but we knew that.) May (6-8) has not been as kind as April (12-10), but we know the team will live and die with starting pitching. That's reason for confidence going forward, despite, of course, reason #1 to be a little freaked out:
1. Tim Lincecum
Who are we seeing out there? It looks like Tim, sorta. I think he has an evil, twisted half-brother named Loki LeRoy Lincecum. LLL exists to tease us with glimpses of World Champion Cy Tim and then parade a substandard Tim before us and subject him to ghastly scenes. Real Tim needs to free himself of Loki's cruel curse. Guys have shitty years, even guys like Tim. But they also have crappy starts and finish strong. I'm on the optimist side here. Tim is a great athlete and is as prideful and competitive as anyone in the game. He will figure things out and perform more like Real Tim real soon. And speaking of ghastly, shitty, and crappy, that brings me to item #2 on the list of reasons to be a little freaked out:
The Giants can't seem to. It is awful to watch. I mean it, I'm in awe of their wretched incompetence. I can't recall such a stretch of poor fielding for many seasons. Perhaps they were this bad a few years back, but I've blotted it out. This is stuff worthy of blotter--hey, it worked for Dock Ellis. Seriously, this is one stink-o outfit with the glove, something I'm quite surprised by. I thought for a while it was FNGs not used to playing together, too many rooks, Buster's long layoff, that is, it would improve with time. It has not. They still suck on D. That has to change. A pitching team needs to play well in the field. This lineup, even with a healthy Panda, is challenged enough. The team has to catch the damn ball or they will continue to give away runs.
Those are the biggies. Fix those two and the rest of the problems are just that, problems. #1 and #2 are much bigger than problems--they could doom the season. But the rest of the problems, like #3 the bullpen and #4 injuries, which overlap a bit, aren't so bad. Brian Wilson going down was a big blow, and the 'pen took another hit when Jeremy Affeldt hurt himself and had to go on the DL. Guillermo Mota may not have had impressive stats, but he was tough and smart and sucked up a lot of innings in ugly spots that kept the rest of the guys fresh. Losing him means trial-by-fire rookie rounds, so far not really working. Let's hope we find a guy with the grit and perseverance to embrace mop-up/long relief duties. Things are unsettled, but fixable.
The injury that's hurt the most, of course, is the weird one to Pablo Sandoval. Talk about a curse! The same injury, but in the opposite hand, cutting short a brilliant season and crippling the lineup. What have we done to offend The Baseball Gods? How could this happen twice? The good part is that he is young and determined and will be back later. That will be a big lift. Buster Posey looks like he's still recovering some from his horrible injury last season. I'm glad the Giants are working him at first and giving him off-days with Hector Sanchez. Like Sandoval, Posey is young and determined and I think he will be fully healthy down the stretch.
I have decided not to add a #5, as it is too tired of a topic. We know the offense is bad. Really bad. Like fourth-from-the-bottom runs scored in the NL bad. So I won't mention it.
There's a lot of baseball left to play. The Giants can get better. Two games against the reigning champs are up ahead. They score a hell of a lot of runs, it will be fun to see if Giants pitchers can shut them down.