San Francisco Giants Making Guarantees With Unlikely Heroes, Fresh Faces

Joe CasoloCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 12:  Pat Burrell #9 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after hitting a grand slam against the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning during an MLB game at AT&T Park on August 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It is not a show on Broadway, although it entertains you like one. Nor is it a Shakespearean tragedy, yet it is rich in suspense and drama. It is the second half of the 2010 season in San Francisco.

This weekend, the biggest series of the Giants regular season is set to take place.

Taking the hill tonight for San Francisco is none other than Mr. Guarantee himself, Jonathan Sanchez. The same pitcher who earlier in the week called a three-game sweep of the first place San Diego Padres.

Tonight, he will have to walk the walk—trying to avoid walking too many Padres in the process. Sanchez's bold statement drew the ire of the Padres and his fellow teammates.

Baseball is a game of ethics and sportsmanship.

In the eyes of many baseball purists, such a guarantee just will not inherit. While Sanchez can be dominating at times, he has not been the kind of awesome force that you would expect or respect bold predictions from.

With an 8-7 record, Sanchez will have to get it done between the lines. He already has a reputation for unraveling mentally once things start to go awry for him. You have to wonder, is this mere enthusiasm? False bravado?

Or has Jonathan Sanchez finally acquired the mind-set that will finally elevate him into the next tier of talented starting pitching?

Time will tell. A very short time—tonight will either solidify and validate his resolve, or shatter an already shaky ego and ensure another downward spiral for the young lefty.

By Sunday, we will know if the Giants are indeed the real deal in the NL West, or a spunky group of fierce water treaders.

The Chicago Cubs gave the Giants a scare in every game of the four-game series that concluded with a Giants win Thursday.

The Cubs, who have nothing left to play for did not lay down. Their manager is away from the team, they are shedding players right and left, and yet they fought like real contenders in this series.

The Giants needed exactly what the Cubs gave. They needed to know they could pitch when it mattered and drive in key runs.

Some will say the Giants underachieved and barely got by a mediocre team at best. I believe the Giants got a real opportunity to answer some tough questions about themselves.

While it was not a four-game sweep, or landslide victory in any of the four games, it was a chance for the Giants to build on themselves.

Imagine losing three of four to Cubs heading into this weekend's series. Lose three out of four to Chicago and limp in to the clash with the Padres and you might as well kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Pat Burrell, Pat Burrell, and more Pat Burrell.

Although the Giants did not break camp with Burrell in the spring, they are sure glad they kicked the tires on the veteran slugger. I was at the park yesterday, yards away from the foul pole that Burrell clanged his fifth inning grand slam—it was magic.

It has been years since a guy not wearing No. 25 captivated an audience with his swing. If Burrell can keep this clutch play going, he will endear himself to fans in San Francisco for years to come.

The Giants have other new arrivals waiting to earn the same love.

Relievers like Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez will definitely be called on before its all said and done. How they answer that call will determine if the 2010 season will be long remembered or not.

Javier Lopez is the only healthy left-handed reliever in San Francisco's maligned bullpen. Will his value continue to rise? Or will he and Ramirez join the list of disappointments late in games?

The Giants also bolstered their infield after Renteria went back on the disabled list with a strained bicep. They called up minor leaguer Emmanuel Burriss for another stint in the big leagues to back up Uribe at shortstop.

Giving Manager Bruce Bochy a little more wiggle room, the Giants also acquired Mike Fontenot from the Cubs during the series.

If second basemen Freddie Sanchez cannot pull himself out of his offensive slump, we may see Fontenot infused at second before long.

Brian Sabean wasn't done there either, making an early deal this morning for Jose Guillen of the Kansas City Royals.

Guillen is regarded as the second worst player in a clubhouse second only to Milton Bradley. His nine-team career speaks volumes about his chemistry.

On the other hand, Guillen has plenty of pop in his bat and has already driven in 62 RBI. Where does Bochy play him? If he gets left/right field, that will likely force Huff to first, and Ishikawa to the bench.

Despite the juggling act for Bruce Bochy, Jose Guillen's character is a huge turn off. Let's hope he doesn't have a negative effect on the good chemistry the club is enjoying now.

If Guillen is to be viewed as a rental player for the remainder of the season, then the move makes perfect sense. How much can a bad attitude affect a club in 40 games? Let's hope I'm not seriously wrong with that viewpoint!

The San Francisco Giants are in the mix for the division crown. They are playing good ball. The front office is making moves.

Pitchers are laying down guarantees. For the first time in a long time, it looks like this whole organization wants it. And they want it bad.


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