The Giants have to be concerned about this current losing streak, but could it be a blessing in disguise?
The San Francisco Giants have been mired in the longest offensive struggle of the 2011 season since they acquired Carlos Beltran and Orlando Cabrera. This is not to suggest that these two players have been detrimental to the teams success, but changes like these can take a bit of time for a team to get used to.
The Giants have been in first place since mid June and the Arizona Diamondbacks are currently breathing down their necks. The San Francisco club has lost nine out of its last 12 games and while that slide doesn't figure to continue much longer, losing for a little bit longer could actually make them a better team for several reasons. Here are five ways that the current losing streak could benefit the Giants.
Andres Torres is one of several underperforming Giants. Can he really be expected to return to his 2010 production?
When a team is hot, struggling players can be hidden in the line up. When a team plays poorly and struggles through an extended losing streak, sometimes the only way out of it is to shake things up a little bit. The Giants don't have the luxury to shake up too many spots on the field or in the line up.
Andres Torres plays center field, bats lead-off and is a shell of the player he was for the 2010 Giants. He is the player he has been for his entire career, so it is safe to assume that is who he will remain. Those are two difficult positions for the team to replace, but Brian Sabean may have to find a way to replace Torres if they don't snap out of their doldrums soon.
First base and 5th or 6th in the line up belong to Aubrey Huff. Ideally Huff would hit well enough to bat third followed by Carlos Beltran and Pablo Sandoval, and maybe he would hit better there anyway. He would see a lot more fastballs hitting in front of those two guys and that alone could shake him free of his slump. Whatever happens, he has to hit or his is another slot that the Giants would have to consider shaking up if they don't start winning soon.
Catcher and 8th in the line up belong to the extremely weak hitting Giants catching tandem of Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside. If Sabean could have replaced them both by now he would have. They are both back up catchers and the extended playing time they have both received since Buster Posey was injured has exposed them as such.
Shortstop and the back end of the batting order. Orlando Cabrera is better defensively than Miguel Tejada and hits for a slightly better average than Brandon Crawford, Crawford has a better on base percentage and is their best defensive shortstop by far. Cabrera is a veteran who has won and his experience could be very valuable down the stretch. I would expect this to be the last position to be addressed if any are at all.
Giants pitchers have slipped a little bit of late, I fully expect them to rebound and finish the year strong.
Like any individual player or a group on a team, the Giants pitching staff can't be expected to be nearly perfect every single game. Their mechanics will get thrown off or their concentration may wander and they will struggle as a group.
Prior to Tuesday night's game the Giants ERA over the current home stand was approaching 4.00 which is significantly higher than what they have established for the year to date and not an ERA that this team can win with, hence the losing streak. In no way do I blame the pitchers for the Giants current woes, I simply point out that they are struggling as a whole a bit right now.
It's the beginning of August and an ideal time time to struggle as long as they right the ship and shoot through September the way they did in 2010. If the pitchers turn it around and I expect that they will, this stretch of losing could end up being a blessing in disguise.
For the Giants to finish strong, guys like Aubrey Huff will need to leave behind their season long struggles.
No team wants too struggle down the stretch and limp into the playoffs. The MLB laws of average suggest that the the Giants are not as good as they have been but they are also not as bad as they have been. The Giants will be due for a hot streak once the current struggles are set aside.
No one wants their team to struggle but it is inevitable over the course of a long baseball season. The timing could end up being perfect if the Giants ride the turn around into a strong September.
Mike Krukow said on the Giants Flagship Station KNBR 680 last week that losing streaks make good teams better teams and make bad teams even worse. If this is true, losing as they have been on the homestand could make this a very good team.
The streak has coincided with the arrival of some new players and in turn an unknown, a time for feeling eachother out Despite all of the griping and complaining about the offense—mostly warranted—this is a good, World Series championship caliber team. This is not a team that will let a dry spell break it apart. This is a good team that will come together through this and be better.
There will be a defining moment that will make the new guys feel like they belong and it could propel the team into another victory lap after winning the NL West again.
If a player like Ramon Hernandez was available on waivers, the Giants might not have access to him unless they were behind Arizona in the standings.
It goes completely against the competitive spirit to temporarily accept losing as a way of improving, yet sometimes that is exactly the situation that a team can find itself in. If the Diamondbacks were to leap frog the Giants, even for a day it would give the Giants waiver wire rights over the D-Backs.
Currently with the Giants in first place, if a player fell to Arizona that they felt the Giants would want and that would help to address their weaknesses, the Diamondbacks could block that player from getting to the Giants by claiming them off waivers. There are some risks involved in doing that but in its simplest form, that is how the waiver system works.
Brian Sabean must know who is out there on waivers and be ready to put in a claim the moment when and if they are surpassed by Arizona in the standings. If it is a player that could improve the team, the fall from first place would most certainly be temporary because the addition of that player could propel them to the NL West crown.