San Francisco Giants: Only Small Ball Will Save the Giants in 2011
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It's the same story, yet why does it seem as if no one is willing to make a change?
The San Francisco Giants began the 2011 season with renewed hope following their improbable 2010 World Series championship. Everything looked as though it was coming together once again. They were returning most of the pitching staff and roster that had conquered the San Diego Padres in the regular season and the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers in the postseason.
How could they go wrong with full seasons from Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey?
Here's how: injuries and a non-existent offense.
Every Giants fan (or at least every Giants fan who enjoyed mild heart attacks every night) embraced torture last year. We could handle it because, hey, we were winning, we were exciting, and we had everyone contribute just enough at just the right time.
Now, however, we don't quite seem to be winning those games anymore. Although the pitching has been nearly as good as advertised, there have been some shaky starts and a few blown leads by the bullpen. Still, that is not the main issue beguiling the Giants in 2011. That issue is hitting and, more pressingly, producing runs.
Part of the problem is, admittedly, injuries. The Giants already have the same number of them as they did all of last year—a steady dose of what the baseball gods giveth, they also taketh away.
A few of the afflicted were vital to last year's run, including Buster Posey, Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez, and Cody Ross. That list does not even include Pablo Sandoval, who started 2011 on a tear and was sidelined for nearly two months. Yes, the injuries have hurt, but they do not tell the whole story.
They do not explain Aubrey Huff's stat line of .246/.299/.396. They do not explain Torres' .231 batting average nor Miguel Tejada's .221 clip. Huff hit 40 points higher last season, and even though Tejada is fairly old now (more likely 40 than his official age of 38), we still expected more than this.
My main problem is not with the horrendous offensive showing of this team but with the manner in which the men who run it choose to address the issue.
The most pertinent statistic is the 0-for-26 with runners in scoring position the Giants posted over the first four games of their current losing streak (try not to read that again, it will make you sick). What that tells me is that the team did not have too much trouble getting on base, but once they did, it was impossible to bring the runner home.
I love Bruce Bochy (and how can you not with his amazing nickname-giving abilities?), but why won't the skipper play small ball and manufacture some damn runs? If you know your team cannot hit a lick, why keep telling them to swing away?
This isn't just a funk the offense can bust out of. It's nearing the end of June, and the Giants are currently ranked last in all of baseball in runs scored and in the bottom-five in OBP, batting average, and slugging. Furthermore, the team as a whole has a K/BB ratio of about 2.5 and does not hit home runs.
To recap, the Giants are a team with very good pitching that does not hit for power, does not get on base, does not score runs, and strikes out a lot. Wow.
In those rare instances that the Giants get a man on base, they absolutely must sacrifice the runner over to the next base. A runner on second with no outs should score every time via a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. A runner on first with no outs should be sacrificed to second every time so that the team has multiple tries at bringing him home.
It should not matter who is hitting because there just is not an offensive player on the team consistent enough to warrant a "swing away" sign from Tim Flannery.
Last season, Brian Sabean made enough moves to give the offense a kick and carry us into and through the playoffs. But it's about time the organization and fans stop talking about what was accomplished in 2010. It happened and it was magical, but now it's over.
It does not look like this team can provide enough offense to support the stellar starting staff (that by the way needs to be better as well). That is the reality, and if Bochy and Sabean can see it sooner rather than later, they may still be able to conjure up something special in 2011.
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