Welcome to the 3rd Czar’s blog of 2017
The first road trip of the season against the NL West (Snakes and Padres) just came to an end, and not a minute too soon. It feels like the G-Men have been bitch-slapped by the division. It’s April, we are 7 games into the season and it already feels like a desperate September. Blowing 8 leads in 7 games? Giants, can we speak with you for a moment?
What does the team look like after the first week?
Answer: 2 and 5 (last place in the division!) and very strange. The hitting is strong, the defense has made unusual errors but is generally sound. However the pitching is erratic. Why so tight?
Question: Are the G-Men over-rated or did the Snakes and the Padres get pissed because they were both dismissed in the pre-season as factors and took it out on the Orange and Black? Is this a home field thing? The next two weeks will go a long way towards answering these questions.
The Starters: Bumgarner and Cueto are nails, Moore and Samardzija are acceptable and Cain (we all expect) is headed for Sacramento after one more bad start. Everyone seems to be pressing, and it shows.
The Relievers: Guarrin, Law, Kontos, Strickland and Melancon have all pitched and for the most part not well. Melancon blew his first save opportunity against the Snakes but today he got the DP to get the save in what was really a must win game against San Diego. Maybe the bullpen is that bad but maybe not. It’s too early to tell.
My take is that the relievers need to be slotted into specific innings and stay there. Kontos in the 7th, Strickland in the 8th and Melancon in the 9th is my prediction for a winning bullpen. Slot Guerran, Law and the others for long relief. Again, I predict (unless he has a really good start next week) that Matt Cain is toast and we will quickly see Beede up here fighting it out with Blach for the 5th starter slot.
The Offense and the Defense
Belt is hitting really well and with power (3 HR’s) at 1st, Panik at 2nd is batting .400 and looks like the second coming of Joe Morgan, Nunez at 3rd is batting .375 with 3 steals and Crawford (MVP?) at short is at .348 and looks like he has had all of the big hits this season.
Can someone explain to me how Belt, one of the best defensive first basemen in the game, lets a ball go between his legs to basically lose a game?
Buster Posey, the best catcher (and the best player) currently playing baseball, is as strong as ever behind the dish but he can’t carry the team by himself.
The infield looks good which is why the key errors are so difficult to understand.
Hunter is playing healthy this year and so far it shows. Span has been hurt but came back today and played well. Chris Marrero got his first hit today. Gorky’s is an acceptable center fielder but looks surprisingly like Gregor Blanco.
The problems with the outfield are mostly in left field where Marrero, Parker and (surprisingly) Arron Hill are battling it out. I like Hill. He is a veteran with power and baseball savvy. If he can play left field I expect we will see him a lot more.
In terms of offense, however, one cannot overlook Bumgarner. He is tied for the team lead in batting (.400 with Panik) with 2 dingers in the first game (where the lead was blown later). Bum is what Babe Ruth must have looked like when he was pitching for the Red Sox before he got traded to the Yankees and stopped pitching.
The bottom line is that the Giants are scoring 4.9 runs a game. The record should be a lot better than 2 and 5. Of course, when the team ERA is over 5 that would explain a lot. Maybe AT&T will help :).
The Coaching Staff
I wonder what they think about this start. Bochy is certainly not panicking but he has to be wondering what team he is watching. If I was Rags I would be sweating bullets over the inconsistency of the bullpen. 8 blown leads?
The NL West
Right now it’s really early. The Snakes are in first place and coming into AT&T tomorrow. The Rockies are in 2nd place, the Dodgers in 3rd, the Padres in 4th and the G-Men are bringing up the rear. I don’t expect that those will be the standings after the next series. But, who knows, that’s why baseball is so much fun. You can take nothing for granted.
Now it is time to get the glove ready for AT&T and enjoy baseball – it’s time to turn the ship around!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!