Melky Cabrera’s suspension came as a shock to management, players and fans. After being suspended 50 games for testosterone, the San Francisco Giants’ left fielder ends his season with a team-leading .346 batting average and 159 hits, and has a good chance of winning the batting title if Andrew McCutchen doesn’t stay ahead.
The general response is still going through the stages of grief, but all hope is not lost for San Francisco. The rest of the team can still step up and make up for Cabrera’s absence, especially since the Giants don't have a very tough schedule to finish out the year.
One player doesn’t necessarily make or break a team. Melky Cabrera is a huge loss to the Giants, but there are still reasons why fans should not give up on an Orange October quite yet.
The San Francisco Giants obviously lose a huge offensive piece in Melky Cabrera, but other players have shown they’re capable of contributing. Buster Posey leads the Giants with 19 home runs, 76 RBI and a .407 on-base percentage. He’s consistently done well this season and continues to be a major factor in San Francisco’s success.
Other players have shown promise; Brandon Belt has been hot and Pablo Sandoval is back in the lineup. The Hunter Pence trade is now bigger than ever. While Pence has struggled to find his swing so far with San Francisco, he hit his first home run with the Giants on Sunday and is close to breaking through.
Cabrera leaves a hole in the lineup, but there are guys on the team that can help fill it.
Brian Sabean has said there aren’t many options on the waiver wire right now, so the San Francisco Giants will replace Melky Cabrera from within the system. For now, Gregor Blanco will take over left field, and the team will hope he can resume his production from earlier this season.
At the moment, Blanco is struggling, so if he does not come through, the Giants will have to look at their other options. Justin Christian was brought up and some other players on the bench have experience in the outfield.
The hole in the outfield is a tough spot to fill for San Francisco, but Blanco is a good outfielder who just needs to find his bat again.
Pitching has been a strength of the San Francisco Giants. Ryan Vogelsong has one of the lowest ERAs in the league and Madison Bumgarner has been having an extremely successful year.
Matt Cain has not been as dominant since his perfect game in June, but is still consistent on the mound. Barry Zito has even had surprising success this season, going 9-8 with a 4.29 ERA.
Tim Lincecum is the big question mark when it comes to San Francisco’s pitching strength for the rest of the year. Most of this staff is capable of holding a team to very few runs.
The pitching has been a huge reason for the Giants’ success recently, and will continue to be for the rest of the season. Tim Lincecum needs to pitch well—or at least decently—for San Francisco to have a shot at the playoffs.
After 10 games against the Braves, Astros and Cubs, the Giants will play against their division for the rest of the season. San Francisco has seven remaining games against the Rockies and nine each against the Padres, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks’ schedule is similar to the Giants, but they must face the Marlins, Reds and Cubs.
The easier remaining schedule is a big help to the Giants, but the division title could come to that final series in Los Angeles.
Before the trade deadline, many hoped for Hunter Pence to come to the San Francisco Giants and become the amazing offensive upgrade that would answer everyone's prayers.
But, like Pence was not going to single-handedly carry the Giants to the playoffs, Melky Cabrera will not single-handedly ruin this team's 2012 season.
It’s a team effort and guys are now forced to pick up the pieces and get this group back on track. It will not be an easy task, but if the Giants can come together after this mess, they have the tools to make it to the postseason. From there, anything can happen.