Thank you Andy Baggarly.
On behalf of all who have wondered about San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy's curious season-long reliance on under-performing veterans, allow me to thank Baggarly, who covers the San Francisco Giants for the San Jose Mercury-News.
After the Giants's 3-1 loss Thursday night to Houston, the third stink-bomb in seven days against the awful Astros, Baggarly's game story quoted Bochy repeating the same increasingly lame excuse for his club's struggles.
Responding to a question about more shake-ups to his sleep-walking lineup, here was the manager's response,
"Why not do a lot of things?" he bellowed, when asked if it was time for radical changes. "We've had different leadoff hitters. You mix things up, which we have. We've had injuries. We've had different lineups..."
The manager has reason to be cranky. His club has gone 1-2 to start a critical 12-game home stand, slipping three games behind Arizona.
Oooh, Bruce. Did someone strike a nerve?
But Bochy's comment also comes across as defensive, implying that he's done what he could to revitalize his offense.
What is most responsible for the Giants' offensive struggles?
I guess that depends on how you define "mixing things up."
Has the manager juggled players and shifted his lineups? Sure. But most of the juggling has involved the same group of overpaid under performers: Aaron Rowand, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Miguel Tejada, et al.
And Bochy has refused to acknowledge what the rest of the baseball world seems to realize. That the 2011 version of Aubrey Huff sucks.
In his Thursday blog, Baggarly explicitly called out Huff, who has gifted Giant fans with weak popups, slow ground balls and rally-killing strikeouts all year.
Baggarly also raises the sticky issue of clubhouse dissension, suggesting that Bochy has played vets like Huff and Rowand to quell what otherwise might have been an internal revolt.
Injuries have devastated the 2011 Giants (Baggarly acknowledged this, too). But Bochy's insistence that he has done everything possible to adjust doesn't fly. He needs to wake up before it's too late.
As does Sabean. As recently as a week ago, he told the San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea this,
"So you can't manufacture runs or you can't keep an inning going or hit a three-run homer. So we need to find a way to piece together an inning to put a crooked number up or stay close enough, which we have—we did early in the season when we were healthy—to eke out a one-run game."
He said this to Shea on Aug. 20 after 7-5 loss to Astros.
I checked the numbers. On the day the Giants lost Buster Posey for the year (48th game, against Florida), they were putting up 3.54 runs per game.
Over the next 82 games (through Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Padres), the Giants averaged 3.37 runs per contest—0.17 runs less per game.
For the season, San Francisco is now averaging 3.41 runs—a decline of 0.13 runs per game.
That says that the offense's struggles started right out of the gate and have persisted all year. Injuries are one cause, but the players Sabean signed, or re-signed, haven't stepped up.
And that's on him as much as anyone.