Welcome to the 12th Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants! The rules are below.
Is there a chance to overcome the injuries, as well as the Dodgers, and make the playoffs?
· Like I said in the last blog the Dodgers series would tell the tale, and unfortunately it did. We played three playoff games against the Dodgers best pitchers and lost three one-run games with a short-handed team that limped into the series. Kershaw and Grienke were as advertised but I think that the key to the LA success (for the moment anyway) was putting Puig, a clubhouse cancer, on the DL and picking up the best Phillies infield of the last decade (Utley and Rollins) for the end of the season run. It is always amazing what a ton of money will do.
· Regardless, there is always a chance as long as the G-Men are not mathematically eliminated. The Dodgers have been known to choke (you think? last WS was 1988 for the most expensive payroll in baseball) and the LA team has to play three games at the end of the season at AT&T against what will certainly be a very surly Giants team. If the G-Men can pull out a few series and the Dodgers lose a few, and the separation is around four games at the end, it’s anyone’s division. Wouldn’t that be sweet? (payback for 2004 anyone?).
· I would counsel the nay-sayers who are burying the Giants (which include most of the sportswriters – and the entire Dodgers nation) to remember the 2012 team that was down two games to the Reds and came back to win the divisional series, and were then down three games to the Cardinals and came back (in the rain no less) to beat the Red Birds in the NLCS. That was five elimination games – odds such as are facing the Giants now can be (and have been) overcome. The faithful believe.
What does the rest of September and October look like?
· With the exception of 3 games against the A’s, the entire rest of the season is against the NL West. The Dodgers, by contrast, have to get through the Pirates (my other favorite team – Go Bucs! – Did you know that they are called the Pirates because they signed one of the first free agents in baseball history? True fact. Louis Bierbauer).
· While the schedule slightly favors the Giants, what doesn’t favor the Giants is the incredible run of injuries.
· Aoki – Concussion symptoms. Damn Arrietta, I will never root for the Cubs again after seeing that headhunter in action.
· Cain – nerve irritation
· Crawford – calf injury and oblique
· LIncecum – hip, out for the season (and maybe as a Giant, but I think that Timmy will be back next year)
· Panik – back tightness, day to day and probably out for a week,
· Pence – left oblique strain, probably out for the season
· Sanchez and Susac (both back-up catchers! – out for the season
· Buster Posey – still playing but hurt.
· These are our key players, especially Pence. Marlon Byrd was a good pick-up but cannot replace Pence.
· The rookies, Duffy and Tomlinson, are both playing very well but Adrianza is a disaster at shortstop (OK defense, no hit) which is why Noonan is back in a Giants uniform and the new back-up catcher is a career minor leaguer (and looks it). I was actually thinking that maybe it’s time to bring Eli Whiteside out of retirement.
· Of the pitchers, Bumgarner and Peavy are carrying the load, Leake looks serviceable but Heston is struggling and I think that this might be Vogelsong;s last year (it’s certainly Hudson’s last year but he is fresh and he might win some key games down the stretch). The bullpen is back to full strength now that Affeldt (who makes a career of getting hurt playing with his kids) is back. The bullpen could be the key to a September run.
· This coming series at home will be telling. The G-men are coming off of a mediocre road trip against the Snakes and the Rockies and maybe being at home will refresh them. They did look tired over the last two weeks.
What does the off-season look like?
· Look for free agent signings at pitcher. I think that the Giants are going to take a run at the Nationals pitching staff because they need a solid number two behind Bumgarner, and Peavy or Leake don’t rise up to that level.
· Maybe Cain can come back and maybe Timmy’s hip surgery solves his velocity problem but this off season is going to be all about starting pitching. If its home grown (Cain or Lincecum) getting healthy all the better but Bobby Evans will not be afraid to trade.
· The position players look really good though. Duffy has proven himself as a third baseman with power (anyone miss the Panda? I thoughtnot), Panik is as smooth as they come, Belt is playing well, Blanco has emerged as a force, Crawford is still the best defensive shortstop in baseball, Aoki is one of the best lead-off hitters we have ever had, Marlon Byrd is a great power threat off the bench and, oh yeah, Buster Posey is MVP and we will be talking about him in the Hall of Fame someday.
· Finally, never forget that the Giants are the reigning World Champions. I don’t know if there is anything to this odd and even year thing, but who cares – this is a great team and we love them!
It’s time for baseball!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!