Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two down, seven to go

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:

2. Fielding

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.




Zo said...

Well then, I'll talk about offense. We currently have scored 3.62 runs/game, little better than last year's historically bad year wherein we scored 3.52 runs/game. We have allowed 3.84 runs/game. This tells us what we already know, that our pitching is pretty good and our hitting is not, and is indicative of why we are a less-than-.500 team.

If you look at the numbers and want to remove some games that might influence the statistics, such as the rare high-offense game (probably termed "decent-offense game" on other teams), we find that the Giants have had 4 games in which they have scored at least 7 runs. You would expect them to win those games, in fact they are 3-1 in those games, due to an early season blowout in Coors Field. The Giants have also had 4 games in which the opponents have scored at least 7 runs, including the aforementioned game in which the Roxies scored 17. The Giants lost all those games. Not including the games in which the Giants scored 7 or more, they have scored only 3.18 runs/game and not including the games in which the Giants allowed 7 or more, they have allowed 3.03 runs/game. Which only confirms what the first paragraph indicates, that our pitching is pretty good, offense, not so much. Of the 142 runs allowed, 20, or 14% are "unearned." If you like, you can think about how fielding errors should and should not impact ERA, but nevertheless, without the "unearnies", the Giants allow 3.30 runs/game. Our margin is just too small to commit fielding errors. On our team, they hurt much more than they would elsewhere.

Another thing that I thought might be interesting is to look at how our offense has fared without Pablo Sandoval. As one would expect, it has declined. We are getting into the small sample size problem here, but nevertheless, post-Panda we have scored only 41 runs in 13 games, a frightening 3.13 runs/game. That includes one game in which we scored 7.

The conclusions are no different than what can be stated by observervation, that is that 1) we need Pablo Sandoval, our offense is not able to compensate for his absense; and 2) we must play better defense to be able to hang in there until our offense returns to meager status.

Or, put another way, how 'bout some hits, you guys?

Shankbone said...

I love these posts on RMC. Good stuff.

So they're testing out pen arms, most likely some sort of trade later in the year if the right fit isn't made. How bout our Stewart trade Yankee? Maybe he gets tried soon. Edlefson can't throw strikes.

Without the defensive miscues, they might be closer to the lead in the west. Early on, its looking like a classic Giants-Doyers matchup. Frustrating we can't gain some with Kemp out. The defense is just straight up wretched, and that has to change because bad defense in a post season scenario is a ticket home with a quickness.

Playing the kids makes for some rough stuff at times! Without Sandoval, this is a sub 500 team that will struggle to score anything and lose if the pitching or defense blinks. They have to tread water, rest Posey and hope like hell. The problem I see is extended winning streaks aren't likely at all. We've stalled at 3 a couple times now.

Zo said...

One positive note that I neglected to mention. We have not been shut out this season.

Shankbone said...

One more positive note: Matt Cain moves one closer to that .500 W/L record today.