San Francisco Giants: The "Melk" Spoiled, so What Can Brown Do for You?
Come on, you knew it wasn't going to be that easy!
Honestly, did anyone actually believe that the San Francisco Giants would finally have their team together after only 120 games?
We all seemed to think that a few nights ago, when—for the first time this season—San Francisco trotted out all three of their All-Star starters in a lineup that included Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt.
As an added bonus, Ryan Theriot was nowhere to be found near second base.
The results were satisfying to say the least. The Giants scored six runs to back up a complete-game effort from Madison Bumgarner. AT&T Park was electric. Brandon Belt got so caught up in the excitement that he ran himself into a pair of outs.
Twelve hours later, the mood had changed. The atmosphere around the park seemed to suggest that Tim McCarver was doing radio broadcasts for the Giants again.
But it was worse. Much worse (No, Joe Morgan wasn't looming in the announcer's booth).
Melky Cabrera, the man all Bay Area fans had come to love and appreciate as the “steal of the century,” tested positive for elevated testosterone. Suddenly Brian Sabean is looking less like Billy Beane and more like...Brian Sabean.
It was heartbreaking (though not unfamiliar) news for a fanbase that had seen so many of their heroes fall on their own sword, impaled by their own ambition. And for the first time, they weren't given the benefit of plausible deniability.
To his credit, Melky didn't hide, point, or in Ryan Braun's case, try to blame the urine sample collector for the troubles he brought on himself. He came right out and admitted his guilt, costing him his reputation and millions of dollars in the process.
So many players have been here before, and they've managed to beat the rap by exploiting the countless number of loopholes in Major League Baseball's pathetic drug policy, or by simply putting a call to Saul.
Maybe Melky didn't know the advantages that exist in America's legal system (hell, we already know he doesn't watch AMC). On KNBR, Mr. T and JT Snow discussed "educating" the players about MLB's steroid policy so this doesn't happen again.
If by "educate," you mean telling a player to take drugs that no one can detect after 48 hours and then come up with an absurd excuse in the event of a positive test so he can appeal his suspension and play another 10 games before being handed his final sentence, then yeah, by all means lecture away.
It's nice to see that Giants fans still have a sense a humor. The "Got Melk" shirts that we used to see all around the ballpark now read "Got Juice," or "Bad Melk." You can count on the "Melk Men" to start coming to AT&T Park wearing long mullets and a sinister looking fuzz on their chins, calling themselves "The-Rioters" or the much more appropriate "los terribles."
But things have already stopped being funny. Without Melky, the Giants are a much worser team. Say you want about other players "stepping up" to make up for the lost production, but that hole in the batting order will always be there. Another free out to go along with the pitcher's spot. And Arias. And Crawford.
Injuries will always downgrade a team. The same goes for suspensions or anything else that causes a star player to miss a significant amount of playing time.
When Derrick Rose lay in a heap in the first game of the NBA playoffs, the Bulls were finished for the season. They knew it, so did every one of their fans who suddenly auctioned off their tickets for advanced screenings to "The Avengers" (and surprisingly got their money's worth in the end).
The Giants may not be in the same kind of predicament with Melky gone, but something has to be done to fix that abyss in the lineup. Unless someone sprinkles some testosterone in his Chicken Katzu, Gregor Blaco and his .668 OPS just isn’t the solution.
Right now it looks like Brian Sabean can do two things. He can go back to the same wishing well where he asked for someone dumb enough to trade away one of their quality hitters for Jonathan Sanchez, or he can try calling up Gary Brown from the minor leagues.
Here’s what Sabean had to say about the possibility of Brown joining the Giants this season:
"He's still learning," Sabean said. "He's more proficient against left-handed pitchers and we also know he's a center fielder at this time. I don't see that (move) as a possibility...It's not on the front burner of our thinking."
That's right. Kind of like how Brandon Crawford wasn’t on the front burner in Single-A when the Giants found out that playing an 84-year-old at shortstop wasn't such a good idea.
Brown is currently batting .282 in Double-A Richmond with 32 stolen bases, seven home runs and a .346 on-base percentage. Those numbers are easily better than anything Crawford did in the minors last year prior to being called up in late May.
We all saw what happened in 2010 when the Giants traded Bengie Molina and made Buster Posey their starting catcher. Though it was a joy watching Buster torment National League pitching during his first two months in the majors en route to becoming the undisputed Rookie of the Year, his presence in the lineup had a notable effect on all the other hitters. Finally the team had a solid nucleus to build around both on the field and in the batter's box.
You have to think that adding a young prospect like Brown would bring a similar level of excitement to this Giants squad who are currently slugging it out with the hated Dodgers for the NL West title.
He has the potential to be an awesome leadoff hitter, something the Giants have never really had in the history of their organization. Though I like Pagan, his 19 stolen bases and .333 OBP is something you normally see out of a No. 2 hitter (though his seven home runs might actually be good enough to bat cleanup in this lineup).
While the Giants are reluctant to move Angel to left field, having Brown in center would create one of the fastest outfields in the game.
Either way, San Francisco can't go into the stretch run with the belief (and knowledge) that they're not as good as they should be. Something has to be done to offset their loss. With speed, defense and hitting, Gary Brown may be the torque that sparks this revved up engine.
With Melky, the Giants were the best team in the National League.
So what are they with Brown?
I'd say pretty damn close.
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