2009 San Francisco Giants: A Tale of Two Teams

Andy BenschSenior Writer IAugust 2, 2009

DENVER - JULY 25:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants goes to his knees as he fouls off a pitch protecting a hit and run against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Giants 8-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

With the San Francisco Giants currently riding what is arguably the biggest high of the season (sharing the Wild Card lead, with a chance to take three of four games from the defending champs), it is time to take a look at how the team really shakes out.

Everyone knows that Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have been dominant, and the bullpen has been superb. But unfortunately for the Giants, Lincecum and Cain can't take the ball every other game.

If the two young studs had that ability, perhaps the Giants could get away with having the worst offense in the entire MLB. It is important to point out that the Giants don't just have one of the best pitching staffs and one of the worst lineups; they have the best pitching staff and the worst lineup in the MLB.

Fans around the league may be under the notion that the Giants rotation is one of the best because of Lincecum and Cain but unless you follow the team closely, you wouldn't know that the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball. Combine the bullpen with "The Freak" and "MattyC" and the Giants have the best all-around staff in baseball.

Just take a gander at the Giants' MLB ranks coming into Sunday August second:

Team ERA: 3.48 (first) CG: 9 (first) SHO: 15 (first) SO: 826 (first) Hits allowed: 814 (second) WHIP: 1.28 (second) OBA: .314 (first).

San Francisco's pitching staff has not just been great, it has been down right unhittable. The Giants lead the league in strikeouts and the second-place team is 35 Ks behind. Combine that with a league-low ERA, league low on-base against, and the Giants' staff is by far the best in baseball.

However, the Giants needed to give Kung Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval a bit more help on the offensive side of the ball than just Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez.

For just as unbelievably stout the pitching has been, the offense has been equally horrendous.

Just take a gander at the Giants' MLB ranks coming into Sunday August second:

Runs: 409 (27th), Home Runs: 66 (29th) BB: 233 (30th/Last) OBP: .307 (30th/last) SLG: .380 (29th).

Granted Freddy Sanchez will help with a high OBP but his addition along with Ryan Garko isn't going to be enough to make this team legitimate contenders.

Even with the new additions, the Giants offense still appears inferior. When you look around the rest of the National League, the fellow playoff contenders have lineups that make San Francisco's look like a Triple-A lineup. Plus, it is not as enough the Giants' pitching staff is that much better than those of the other contending teams.

Lincecum and Cain are phenomenal but so are Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee (Phillies), so are Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsly (Dodgers), so are Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).

Therefore, for the Giants to actually get into the post-season and perhaps win a few games in the playoffs, the pitching will have to be perfect because with the Giants' offense, one run allowed may be enough for the opponent to win.

Just look at last night's game against the Phillies. Most Giants fans were in awe of Tim Lincecum's masterful performance. "The Freak" mowed down the World Champs for eight shut-out innings.

However, a couple of bloop hits after Lincecum allowed Jimmy Rollins to pick him clean with two stolen bases, and this could have been a much different ball game.

The Giants' offense was nearly shutdown in their own right by Phillies starter Joe Blanton. San Francisco mustered just two measly sacrifice fly's for their offense in what was otherwise another putrid performance at the plate.

If Giants fans want to focus on the gem from Lincecum, then they have every right to do so but the objective fans realize just how inferior the Giants' offense is compared to the rest of the league.

Now it would be one thing if the Giants offense was mediocre/below average. If that were the case, then it would make sense to let the pitching staff carry the team and let the offense chip in when needed.

But with the Giants offense in the bottom four in almost every major category, and dead last in about half of those, a better move than acquiring Garko and Sanchez should have been made.

According to ESPN Baseball Analyst Buster Olney, the San Diego Padres were fielding offers for 1B Adrian Gonzalez.

Granted the Padres play in the NL West, but a trade within the division is not all that unheard of, especially with the Padres currently in last place, (and by a mile) a move wouldn't be that uncommon.

Now it would have taken a monumental amount of prospects from the Giants in order to acquire Gonzalez but considering you can pencil in Gonzalez for 30-40 home runs and 100+ RBI, the deal would have been worth it.

Even though I once made the notion that prospects Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are "untouchable," in reality, that notion was wrong. A trade package centered around one of these prospects would have been enough for Gonzalez and wouldn't have hindered the Giants' future.

For those fans who are enamored by Madison Bumgarner, let me just remind you that Lincecum and Cain aren't going anywhere. And therefore, whether or not Bumgarner is as good as advertised, the Giants already have the best staff in baseball. Adding Bumgarner to the mix would only be a surplus.

But imagine if you could turn Bumgarner and a few other prospects into Adrian Gonzalez. The Giants would still have the best pitching staff in baseball but then they would also have a ridiculous one-two punch with Sandoval and Gonzalez, with Buster Posey waiting in the wings.

Or the Giants turn Buster Posey and a few other prospects into Adrian Gonzalez. The Giants would keep onto Bumgarner and arguably have the filthiest starting rotation in the history of MLB, and would resign Bengie Molina and have Gonzalez-Sandoval-Molina. An offense that could do some major damage.

And lastly, even if both Posey and Bumgarner were the price for Adrian Gonzalez, the Giants would still have the best pitching staff in baseball and a lineup with Gonzalez and Sandoval who could put up some serious offensive power.

The Giants would no longer have an anemic offense. Instead, it could compete with the lineups of the Dodgers and Cardinals.

But, I guess playing out the rest of this season and years to come with great pitching and a terrible lineup is a good way to go as well.