As San Francisco Hits the Road, Time Has Come for Vets To Take Over the Wheel

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2009

PHOENIX - JUNE 11:  Catcher Bengie Molina #1 of the San Francisco Giants in action during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 11, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As the 2009 San Francisco Giants season has gone on, we’ve seen the three-biggest producers on the team also happen to be the three-youngest players the team has.

Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum—23, 24, and 25 years of age, respectively—have led the way for the Giants in more ways than one. Cain and Lincecum have both racked up 12 wins each and Sandoval has become the only legit power threat in an otherwise drab everyday lineup.

It’s pretty safe to say that the Giants wouldn’t be where they are in the standings if it weren’t for their three young studs. They have counted on them time and time again without question.

The same can’t be said about the four biggest veterans in the lineup not named Ryan Garko or Freddy Sanchez. Frustration stacked on top of one another like pancakes at breakfast can describe how little the veterans have contributed at the plate during the second half of the schedule.

As the Giants head out on what is a crucial 11-game road trip to New York, Cincinnati, and Colorado, the previous road failures will have to be reversed if they want to have any shot of going into the final series of the trip with any kind of momentum.

And that means that the veterans need to kick it in gear if the Giants want to have a good number of wins on this 11-game road swing.

What have these veterans done to deserve this kind of attention?

Randy Winn: .219 average (21-for-96), 0 HR, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 1 3B, .271 SLG, .292 OBP

Bengie Molina: .259 average (22-for-85), 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 2B, .412 SLG, .297 OBP

Edgar Renteria: .222 average (16-for-72), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4 2B, .278 SLG, .273 OBP

Aaron Rowand: .182 average (10-for-55), ) HR, 5 RBI, 5 2B, .309 SLG, .207 OBP

Can you say Struggle City?

Now these numbers, other than maybe Molina, aren’t anywhere close to where anybody thought they would be and where the Giants need them to be. Their inefficiencies were exposed during the just-completed Dodgers series at AT&T and it could get worse as the number of games remaining gets smaller and smaller.

While Molina looked like he was starting to break out of his extended second-half funk during the past homestand, he is still not producing with the bat at the same kind of level he was last season.

For a man they call “Big Money,” Molina has been in dire need of a trip to the ATM, or something to get him going with runners in scoring posting. He is hitting just .237 with a .653 OPS in 118 at-bats.

But when you compare Molina’s numbers to the other veterans, they look good.

Rowand, Renteria, and Winn have been in huge slumps that seem to go back weeks. While Rowand and Renteria can say they’re banged up, San Francisco’s Mr. Consistency hasn’t been that. His numbers are nowhere near what he has done his entire career.

Just a couple weeks ago when his average was around .280 and it seemed like he was getting back to where he has been since he put on the Giants uniform.

Now he is falling back into a slump again. Like Renteria, the power isn’t there. Renteria hasn’t hit a home run since May 24, Winn hasn’t hit a home run since May 25, and they show no signs of leaving the yard any time soon.

What the heck is going on out there? Things are going to have to change, and change fast.

As they stand now, the Giants are just one game behind the Rockies after Wednesday’s results. The offense is sputtering, scoring just five runs in three games, and they leave the friendly confines where they don’t really hit at all.

The biggest concern is just that.

In the biggest series of the year, the team as a whole, especially the veterans, didn’t hit much at all. When the Giants are at AT&T, they just seem to be a different team offensively. The bats come alive, the clutch hitters seem to wake up, and the success at home over the course of the season reflects that.

None of that happened against the Dodgers the past three days, and now they hit the road.

Sounds like the makings of a fun 11-game trip, doesn’t it?

Colorado continues to hit the snot out of the ball while the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins start to creep into the discussion in the Wild-Card race. The last time the Giants were in Colorado three weeks ago, they weren’t hitting at all and coming off a rough series against the Braves.

But now they don’t have a choice of whether they are able to kick things into gear. They have to do it. The Giants not only face the Rockies to close out this roadie next weekend, they welcome them to San Francisco that weekend for three games.

For the faithful, this one has to go better than the 3-7 one three weeks ago. A .500 trip won’t do anything. It is either have a winning trip or possibly fall behind a couple of surging teams.

It’s time to get it going—and the vets are priority No. 1.


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