Welcome to the 2nd Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants!
It is hard to believe how many injuries have occurred four games into the season, and how quickly many of them seem to be healing. Pence broke his arm in the spring but the cast is off and he should start hitting soon, meanwhile he is a super cheerleader. Cain was scratched before his first start with forearm tightness and is on the DL, hopefully not for long. Belt hurt his groin on a pop fly but didn’t get put on the DL and is expected to be playing this weekend. Ishikawa remains in Sacramento where I expect he will be for a while and Peavy’s back stiffness seems to have abated enough for him to start Sunday against the Padres.
Regardless of this litany of owies, the G-men are 3 and 1 in their first 4 games. They took their first series of the year against the Snakes, and won a 12 inning stunner against the Padres last night behind Hudson, who looked very good, and a parade of relievers including Kontos, who got the W.
Does anyone else feel like we are still in the playoffs?
How are the pre-season offensive projections working out?
Well, it is really early but right now the top of the order looks REALLY good. Nori Aoki (.412) and Joe Panik (.250 but timely hits) are setting the table, Pagan (.333) is hitting like the second coming of Joe DiMaggio, Buster is hitting game winning HR’s and Crawford (.278) is absolutely awesome, with clutch hits and clutch defense.
Casey apparently has a case of the yips (at least looking at his two errors last night) but is still hitting .293 with a dinger in his first three starts. We haven’t really seen Belt break loose yet but Duffy, with 7 at-bats, is hitting .429 and Hector Sanchez, with 8 at-bats, is hitting .375. Not too shabby.
The point is that the lack of offense in the pre-season hype is not what we are seeing at the beginning of this season, at least in Arizona and San Diego so far. The G-Men are scoring runs with style, grace and regularity. It is a really fun team to watch, especially when stuff like Pagan getting brushed back in the “gum” incident and taking it out on Craig Kimbrell for a triple happens.
Is the pitching there, as advertised?
With the exception of Cain going down and Vogelsong giving up two 3-run dingers in Arizona in the game that was lost down there (you don’t win games where you give up runs like that), the pitching has been strong. Last night was awesome. Hudson for 6, then the bullpen through 12 in a one-run game that felt like the playoffs.
Tonight is Lincecum. Saturday is Bum, Sunday is Peavy and Monday is Heston. Not like they drew it up last week but the G-Men are carrying 13 pitchers to get through this run of 23 games without a day off so the depth is there. The bullpen looks strong and everyone is contributing, with arms in Sacramento if we need them.
I think, based on what we have seen so far, that we can feel real good about this team.
The Defense – just hit it to Crawford
The defense has been good. The runs against isn’t bad defense but three-run homers (we are a little worried about Vogie, he needs to pitch less innings), which are not defendable. Crawford is starting out the year like a human highlight reel, reaching balls beyond the range of any other shortstop in the game, doing trick tosses for double plays and having an arm like a cannon. Supposedly Tulo is the best SS in the game. You will have your chance to compare them next week.
What impresses me the most is the team balance and the coaching. Lose Pence and put Blanco or Maxwell in, shift Duffy all over the infield (he is taking balls at 1st base in practice today), Lose Belt and shift Posey to 1st and put Hector behind the plate so he can get two hits and catch a great game. Because of the managing, coaching (except for Roberto Kelly getting the yips in his first game) and the set-up of the team the Giants right now are playing like a well-oiled machine - - like, dare I say it - - world champions!
The NL West and the next series
The NL is certainly going to be a dogfight. There are three games left against the Padres and, frankly, if we split in San Diego that is a great opening road trip.
On Monday the Rockies come into AT&T, as yet undefeated (but they opened with a sweep of the Brewers and are playing the Cubs right now – the G-Men will be their first NL West series). The Rockies will be a test for the pitchers and I’m just sorry that I’m going to miss that series. Things to watch are, obviously, all of the Rockies hitters who have a team batting average right now hovering around .400. This will be a serious test of the defense.
On Thursday the Snakes come back into town. I don’t expect them to do much better than they did in Arizona but they are not a group to be overlooked.
Then, starting on Tuesday the 21st the Dodgers come into town for their first series of the year. LA might only be 2 and 1 at this point but they are not to be trifled with considering Kershaw and Grienke and the ability of Adrian Gonzales to hit 7 HR’s in 3 games and to be batting almost .800
That’s it. It’s time for baseball!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!