Sunday, July 14, 2013

Break Time

The Padres got their revenge today. It's been a humiliating run for them (2-12 in July,  6-20 since beating the Giants on June 17th, getting no-hit, etc.) and they took it out on Barry Zito and the bullpen. The loss comes immediately after the high point of this low point in the season, something only lifers like us can appreciate. You have to be encouraged by the team taking three of four from San Diego, especially since they won so impressively, flashing all of their considerable tools. And they avoided the basement, at least for the Break, and that has to feel good. But there are things to be discouraged about, most especially the math, which I'll get to in a bit. Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter last night, and that was damn exciting. Remind yourself of that when this much-needed hiatus from the games is over. Mostly, this season is about missing Ryan Vogelsong, wondering about Matt Cain, and remaining bewildered about Barry-Z. The Giants come to the ASB 43-51 with 68 games remaining. They need 39 wins to finish with a winning record. To win 90, they have to go 47-21 which is .691 ball. There are only three .600 or better clubs in the majors right now. If the Arizona Diamondbacks play roughly their current .532 ball the rest of the way, they'll finish with 87 wins. That means the Giants will have to go 45-23 (.662) to beat them out. That's taking two of three in every series from this point forward. The team has 21 series left.

It's long odds, to be sure. I'd put down a bet only if you gave me at least 10-1. But I'm not a betting man, I'm only happy when my money rides on sure things. (As if there are any of those.) It is not outside the realm of possibility, though. That's the thing. It could happen. There is a lot of talent in San Francisco. There's grit, moxie, élan, esprit de corps, and VSC aplenty. Not to mention pennant race experience. The NL West is still open despite the Giants being out by seven games, that's something that can be halved on a good weekend. A ten-game win streak, a stretch of 12 wins in 15 or the like, could turn the season around. Such things happen, as we know, quite often in baseball. So, let's relax and enjoy the respite, and if you get the urge post up your notions about the second half. Let's kick 'em around and see what we've got, maybe we'll come up with all the answers.



p.s. Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are awesome.


Zo said...

Welcome back. Here is my take based on looking at no numbers at all:

Pitching is 3/5 of the way there. Gaudin has been good, Lincecum, solid (interspersed by greatness), Madison, aces. Zito doesn't have a clue and who knows where Matt will wind up. Zito has thrown some good games, notably at home, but I can't discern a trend to solid pitching from him, if anything, perhaps the opposite. Given no other information, you have to believe that Matt will get it together. But I'm not sure something else is not going on. Our bullpen has stunk on occasion, but looked acceptable of late. Casilla should help and we have gotten a pretty good review of some replacements like Dunning and Kickham. That enables Bochy and Righetti to know how to use these guys in situations where they can be successful.

Hitting went from horrible to pretty good in San Diego. Posey is a god, of course, and Pablo seems like he has begun to hit with authority. Crawford broke out of a bad slump, Scutaro looks like his clutch self and Blanco is contributing. All of those are improvements. Pence is looking like he is returning to being a worthwhile hitter. Belt is still a bit of a cypher. I would like to say that he is starting to look better after a slump, but am not really sure. And Tanaka looks like a positive addition. But these guys were so bad that just the law of averages has them collectively making a big improvement. We can win games with bats if we get a little hot streak going for someone besides Posey.

Intangibles, or more specifically, breaks: For awhile, it seems like we couldn't buy one. If the starting pitching was good, then relief sucked. If starters and relievers were good, then we would manage only a couple of hits. If we got hits, there would be a big 0-fer with runners in scoring position. I don't know who is keeping the scales here, maybe we are still paying for last year's World Series Championship (it feels good to type that). If there isn't really a cosmic balancing scale, though, then we should see some breaks that aren't all bad. For example, Tanaka being awarded third base for interference. Perhaps that was just VSC based on his veteran status in the Japanese leagues.

So, as you say, it's math. But it is not just number of games won. The Giants can tilt the math in our favor by be beating those teams in front of us - Arizona who is coming up soon, and Los Angeles. Our chance will come soon.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, it's still do-able. Not the best of post-ASB scenarios, but with the state of the West, anything is possible.

Barry Zito is in his final days as a Giant. He has, what, 13 starts left? At best? Boch may even skip him a turn or two and give the kid (Kickham) a few more shots. Sayonara BZ, and thanks for the best starts of your life last October.

Madison Bumgarner, on the other hand, is just getting started. Man, is it fun to watch him. He's been the best this season. And he's on the Giants through 2017! That's awesome.

Cain's been mysteriously vulnerable, but, like Tim, there's too much talent there. He will find a way to bounce back, just like Lincecum is doing. I do worry, a little, about the wear and tear of many seasons and 1600 IP. Let's hope he really is a horse.

I believe all the pieces are still there. Pence has been playing very well. Sandoval is coming around. I'm not giving up on Belt, he's too young. Casilla, as you note, is a valuable addition.

I don't know if Sabes has anything up his sleeves, but I don't think we will see any blockbusters. I think it is more likely the Giants will spend on FAs in the off-season if 2013 peters out. I don't see him being a seller. And other than the occasional Jeff Francouer or another scrap heap Chad Gaudin type, I can't imagine the team landing an impact player. Everyone covets starting pitching, and if that's what they are pursuing then it's "get in line" with the rest of the contenders.

That's OK. I'd like to see this team turn it around. I'd like to see them have a hot month and get back to .500 and start putting up a real defense of the title. If they can go 3-15 in an inning, why not 15-3?

nomisnala said...

6.5 games is not that much. We go 7-3 next week, and Arizona and the bums go 5-5. we are only 4.5 games out. 6.5 games with 68 to go is just not that much, and not time to panic, but they have to start winning. Cain has to find his stuff. His bad games usually are just one bad inning. The Brent Tomko syndrome. Cain is slinging the ball a bit, I think he would pick up a few mph if he just had some more forward momentum, but who am I to say.

Anonymous said...

Here is one way to look at the mathematics of the task ahead:

Right now, the standings are ARI 50-45; LA 47-47; and the Giants 43-51. We have 10 games left against ARI and 7 against LA. Leaving the Rox aside for the moment, as most teams usually do and disregarding the sequence of the schedule; if the Giants beat LA in 5 of the head-to-head games, LA would be 49-52 and the Giants would be 50-53. Let's say that ARI won 4 and lost 3 while the Giants played LA - so their record would be 54-48. Were we to beat them 7 of 10, the Giants would be 57-56 and ARI would be 57-52. We would really only have to play one game better than ARI if we can beat them head-to-head. Because you can shave off a complete game in the standings, those games are really the only way to overcome a deficit.

Zo said...

That last was me.

nomisnala said...

Leyland must expect to be back in the world series, because he is seriously managing for the win. I wonder if Bochy feels the same need to win it. Noticing a lot of talk and columns about where Timmy will be next year, and even where he will be later this year. If the N.L. wants to win the all star game, they needed to have Pablo Sandoval on the team.