San Francisco Giants: 4 (Hard) Truths Revealed from Diamondbacks Series
Carlos Beltran's bat awoke with a vengeance. Cody Ross started getting hot. And the Giants' offense still struggled.
Several reinforcements were added after September's roster expansion—yet Bruce Bochy scarcely seemed to notice.
And the Giants' supposedly superior pitching was inferior to Arizona's.
All in all, a dispiriting weekend for Giant fans—at least those who aren't already focusing on their fantasy football rosters.
Here are four difficult truths about the soon-to-be-ex-World Series champs.
Adding Betran Wasn't Enough to Save Offense
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Turns out Carlos Beltran is the hitter Giants fans clamored for prior to the trade deadline.
He had a fabulous weekend spraying line drives all over AT&T Park. (He may also have left a couple of permanent indentations in the outfield walls, possibly his only lasting legacy as a Giant.)
It also turns out that adding Beltran at the non-waiver trade deadline was never going to be sufficient to jolt San Francisco's offense to life.
After Friday's six-run outburst—a veritable orgy for the NL's worst offense—the Giants reverted to form the rest of the weekend, scoring four runs combined in Saturday and Sunday's killer losses.
Cody Ross homered twice in the series (after making an eminently peculiar remark to a reporter about his season-long struggles), but the rest of the offense pretty much went AWOL.
Aubrey (Smokin') Huff: 2-for-10 with zero, zip, nada RBI.
Pablo Sandoval? The Swing-Through Panda went 0-for-9, although he did plate both of Saturday's runs with sacrifice flies.
So, could Brian Sabean have done more at the trade deadline? Perhaps. Should he be vilified for not doing more? Who knows.
We do know that two trade-deadline pick-ups weren't going to heal what ails this club's sorry offense.
Bruce Bochy Will Never Trust Young Players
Bruce Bochy, meet Brandon Crawford
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The Giants reportedly promoted several youngsters when major league rosters expanded on September 1st.
That remains an unconfirmed rumor given Bruce Bochy's player moves over the weekend.
Some vaguely-familiar guy named "Gillespie" pinch-hit on Saturday. A relief pitcher named "Edelfsen" threw an inning in relief, also Saturday.
That's it. All the rest of Bochy's position players, pinch-hitters and defensive replacements were the Usual Suspects.
Guess Bochy just felt safer with 36-year-old shortstop Orlando Cabrera (.229 BA) in there while young, agile, strong-armed Brandon Crawford sat back and watched.
And Bochy must have been determined to score runs his way. Trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning with a runner on second and no outs, Bochy eschewed the opportunity to bunt the runner to third. Brandon Belt popped out; the run never scored.
Emmanuel Burriss, one of Bochy's recently-added bench resources, is an excellent bunter. And there were numerous bats available to pinch-hit for the pitcher, whose spot loomed two hitters away.
Bochy just can't seem to stand youth. Yet, if the Giants are to retain Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain beyond 2013, they'll have to depend on cheaper, younger position players developing in their farm system.
You have to question whether Bochy is the right guy for that managerial job.
Giant Pitchers Ought to Sue for Non-Support
Vogelsong kept his feelings to himself
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After surrendering a solo homer to Chipper Jones in a mid-August 1-0 loss to the Braves, Tim Lincecum told the San Jose Mercury-News,
"Regardless of it happening consistently, or on an everyday basis, it doesn't matter," he said quietly, after losing on Chipper Jones' home run in the fifth inning. "You've got to compete with what you have on a given day. I seem to have a knack for giving up that go-ahead home run. If I can just eliminate that, I'm sure we'd be a lot more successful."
A similar thing happened to Ryan Vogelsong in Sunday's 4-1 loss. Taking a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning, Vogelsong departed after surrendering a game-tying homer to Ryan Roberts and single to Gerardo Parra.
A walk, triple and single later (surrendered by two relievers), it was 4-1 Arizona.
And another loss for Vogelsong (10-6), who had the audacity to be slightly less than perfect.
Barring a miracle, one of baseball's most sterling pitching staffs (3.15 ERA, ranked second in all of baseball) will be absent from MLB's 2011 postseason.
I'll stipulate: Injuries have taken their toll on this club.
But strategic and tactical blunders have hurt, too. The 2011 Giants are the baseball equivalent of a group of Navy Seals receiving their air cover from crop planes.
In 2011, the Diamondbacks Simply Are Better
Even with Posey, the Giants would've been chasing the D-Backs
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It took this weekend's series to make clear what I'd begun to suspect but needed to validate for myself: The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks are better than the Giants. Purely, simply, better.
The D-Backs have outscored San Francisco by 153 runs. That's more than a run per game.
Assuming Buster Posey had stayed healthy and produced at the same pace he did over 45 games (21 RBI), the Giants' catcher would have produced 75, possibly 80 RBI.
That still would've left the Giants close to 100 runs short. Stellar pitching would have made up some of that difference; San Francisco's staff has allowed 89 fewer runs than the D-Backs'.
But Arizona has been better defensively—ranked fifth league-wide in fielding percentage to the Giants' 11th—and their pitching has markedly improved. In fact, closer J.J. Putz (2.55 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) has been statistically better than Brian Wilson (3.19 ERA, 1.49 WHIP).
And Arizona has had injury issues of its own. Willie Bloomquist replaced Stephen Drew (45 RBI) after 85 games, and starter Jason Marquis was lost (broken fibula) shortly after coming to Phoenix at the trade deadline.
I'll rub this in: The Diamondbacks are also younger than the Giants. Only two regulars–Bloomquist and third baseman Ryan Roberts—are 30 or older. Six Giants—seven when Cody Ross and Eli Whiteside play—are at least 30.
Younger. Stronger. Faster. More adaptable. This year, the Diamondbacks are simply better.