Being already the 23rd of June in the year 2009, the current MLB season is over 40 percent complete.
This year's San Francisco Giants stand at 37-32, a record that few predicted for the orange and black, but more amazingly, they are doing it despite poor general managing and poor coaching.
First off, let it be clear that this is not a pessimistic article. In reality, it is an piece filled with optimism if you read between the lines.
But let's get to the issue at hand, shall we?
The 2009 version of the Giants were not predicted to contend for the postseason, but at various dates during June, San Francisco has been seen a top the wild-card standings.
But before fans get too excited, it is necessary to point out the poor decisions by the Giants management team that need to be corrected, or the Giants will miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
The two men in question are Giants manager Bruce Bochy and General Manager Brian Sabean. I'll start with the latter.
Less than one month after the 2008 season ended for our beloved Los Gigantes, General Manager Brian Sabean declared infielder Emmanuel Burriss as the starting shortstop for the 2009 Giants.
Emmanuel ended up starting for the Giants on opening day but not at shortstop. He had to beat out a fellow middle infielder in Kevin Frandsen just to win the second base position.
The shortstop position in which he was declared to have won with his 2008 season is now manned by free-agent acquisition Edgar Renteria.
Now in Sabean's defense, Burriss went to play winter ball during the offseason and was absolutely stone cold at the plate and playing significantly below average in all facets of the game.
And, coincidentally, Burriss has recently been demoted to Triple-A due to his 0-for-25 funk at the plate.
However, how much value can you place on winter ball success? Eliezer Alfonzo led the winter league in home runs and was hitting for a high average, but it turned out the former backup catcher was taking steroids.
Needless to say, Alfonzo is no longer with the organization.
To be fair, nobody is saying that Brian Sabean does not have the right to change his mind, but with the same token, don't announce a move to the public unless you plan to stick to it.
So, after the first decision regarding 2009, Sabean is already facing some criticism for not sticking to his word.
Instead of sticking with Burriss as the starting shortstop, Sabean decides to sign veteran Edgar Renteria to a two-year, $18 million contract.
But Renteria was coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career when he went .270/.317/.382 (average/on base/slugging). Meanwhile, the year before with Atlanta he hit .332/.390/.470.
Both Renteria and current Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson were free agents being targeted by both the Giants and Dodgers as well as a few other clubs. But both players remained unsigned for quite some time during the free-agency period.
The Giants decided on Renteria as their choice when they inked him to a deal on Dec. 4, 2008.
However, Hudson didn't sign with Dodgers until Feb. 21, 2009, when Los Angeles signed him to a one-year deal worth $3.4 million with incentive bonuses making it $4.6 million.
The Giants are paying Renteria nine million dollars for each year, so, essentially, this season the Giants are paying their shortstop $4.4-5.6 million more than the Dodgers are paying Hudson.
Well, that would be fine if Renteria was the better player, but on the season, Hudson has already become a fan favorite in Los Angeles with his superb offensive numbers.
Hudson is currently hitting .309/.382/.453, meanwhile Renteria is hitting .245/.306/.307.
Renteria has a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage, which is an absolutely novel concept.
It is absolutely absurd that Sabean is paying $18 million over two years for Renteria, while the Dodgers are paying less than five million for one year with Hudson.
Ouch, Sabean, great move on that one.
Not only has the Giants general manager handicapped his offense and defense with a washed up shortstop but he has failed to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez in hopes the young lefty could improve his trade value.
Uh, can you say, oops?
Sanchez is currently 2-8 with a 5.54 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP. Meanwhile, the offense that Sabean was suppose to improve this offseason by dealing Sanchez is currently third to last in runs, second to last in home runs, and dead last in walks.
Even with the Giants' most exciting offensive player Pablo Sandoval tied for third in the National League with a .336 average, the Giants are just as offensively inept as they were last season.
But, despite the fact the offense is so incredibly anemic, the Giants are playing relatively well, thanks to all their pitchers not named Jonathan Sanchez.
Currently, the Giants are five games over .500, but they are seven games below .500 during games started by their No. 5 starter.
Why, oh why, has Sabean not brought up a minor leaguer to take over the fifth slot? It's not like he doesn't have two of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball at his team's Double-A affiliate. Oh wait, he does.
To be fair, neither Bumgarner nor Alderson are ready for the big leagues, but there are serviceable Triple-A starters that could pitch much more effectively in the fifth spot than Sanchez.
There are too many issues to bring up with the ineptitude of the Giants' general manager. But, in an attempt to keep this article from going on longer than necessary, I will now switch my frustrations to the manager Bruce Bochy.
Where to begin? Since Sanchez is still fresh in my mind, let's review what Bochy said last night after his team's 5-1 loss to Oakland.
When asked about how Sanchez pitched, (during Comcast's post-game interview) Bochy responded, "I thought overall it was a better effort, I thought he competed well, had good stuff."
Better effort? Really Bochy? Are you referring to his six earned runs (seven total) effort in three-and-two-thirds innings in his previous start against the Angels?
In that case, clearly it was a "better effort," but in reality, the start still raised his ERA. Coming into his start against Oakland, Sanchez had a 5.43 era, and now he has a 5.54 ERA.
His WHIP increased from 1.73 to 1.76. Better effort? That is exactly how Sanchez has been pitching all season long, giving up multiple runs and not being able to get out of the sixth inning.
Good Stuff? Really Bochy? Sanchez's slider was inconsistent all game long and his fastball was all over the place and hovering in the low-90's, not mid-90's. His last pitch before being pulled in the sixth inning was a wild-pitch ball four for his third walk of the game.
Enough with Sanchez, I'm pretty sure all I'm doing is beating a dead horse at this point.Not only is Bochy wrong about Sanchez, but he is wrong about lineups again and again and again.
Bengie Molina is not a cleanup hitter. Molina leads the team in RBI but would be immensely more effective if hitters like Schierholtz and Sandoval were hitting in front of him rather than behind him. Not only does Molina not hit for a high average, but he clogs up the bases and prevents rallies with his lack of speed.
Trying Molina in the fifth or sixth spot would be a much better fit for the Giants catcher.
Fred Lewis should not be starting more than once a week. Lewis is a spot starter at best in this league, yet in last night's game, Bochy wasted his DH with Fred Lewis.
Lewis ended up 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and left a runner on third base with an inning-ending strikeout.
Why Lewis was batting sixth ahead of both Nate Schierhotlz and Travis Ishikawa, both of which have been absolutely raking over the past couple weeks, is beyond me.
Lewis is 3-for-23 in his last nine games at the plate which equates to a .130 average. Meanwhile, Schierholtz is hitting .363 (8-for-22) in his last 10 games, and Ishikawa is hitting .347 (8-for-23) with three home runs in his last 10 games.
That being said, what is Bochy thinking when he has Fred Lewis hitting ahead of Schierholtz and Ishikawa? Considering the fact Lewis has been losing playing time (thank God), why is he hitting so high in the lineup, especially since he is spot starting?
It is pretty clear that Lewis should not be hitting sixth or hitting at all for that matter.
But some players who should be hitting daily are hitting in the wrong spot.
Now, Bengie Molina is not a cleanup hitter, but he is more of a cleanup hitter than Randy Winn is a No. 3 or 5 hitter.
For awhile now, Winn has been hitting third in the lineup and if not third, hitting fifth like he did last night in the series opener with Oakland.
But those spots in the lineup are also being manned by Pablo Sandoval because Pablo can hit for power. The third and fifth spots in the lineup are meant for power hitters. Randy Winn has just two homers on the season! He is a lead-off hitter or a No. 2 hitter.
Why he is being put in a position to drive in runs is a question nobody can answer. Randy Winn is a guy that is meant to set the table and get on base for the real power hitters to drive him home.
I wish I were a legitimate reporter so I could ask Bochy some of these questions.
To sum up, this is, in fact, an optimistic article.
Despite the ineffectiveness of both Bochy and Sabean, the Giants are playing relatively well so far this season. If they had an a GM and manager who were effective, they could be playing even better.
I just hope the new man in charge, Mr. Bill Neukom, realizes that both Sabean and Bochy are impinging on the Giants' chances to win rather than helping.