Welcome to the 4th Czar’s blog of 2017
A one and four road trip against the NL West (Rockies - they swept us in 4 games) completed what has been abysmal week of baseball leavened only by last night's stellar 2-1 victory over the Dodgers to start the current 7 game home stand against the Dodgers and Padres.
The Bad - Let’s get it out of the way
- The record - 7 and 13 and in second to last place in the NL (ahead of only Atlanta). Not good.
- The injuries - Posey beaned (but coming back), Bumgarner acting stupid on a dirt bike and out for 8 weeks, Span out with a right shoulder sprain, Parker out with a broken clavicle, Williamson out with a left quad sprain, Cain with hamstring tightness, Hill out with a right forearm strain, Smith on the 60 day DL and Bochy having been in the hospital with a heart condition last week while the team was hammered in Denver.
- The starting pitchers - perhaps the worst ERA in the league. Who hasn't shuddered when waiting for Samardzija to give up a big inning and multiple dingers to the other team? Every one of our starters has suffered from the “giving up the big inning” malady.
- The relievers - does anyone other than me think that Derek Law looks like a deer caught in the headlights every time he comes into a game? Last night he gave up the Dodgers only run in the 8th inning before settling down long enough to get the final out of the inning. Melancon has us biting our nails and when was the last time we saw Strickland in the 8th inning?
- The hitters - Panik, Crawford, Pence, Belt and Posey are the heart of the order and they are producing but not, it seems, at the right time (like with men on base). The Giants have left more men on base this year than I've seen in a long time. The team BA is clearly low and the other players (like Marrero, released on assignment yesterday) have been failures. The failure list includes Hernandez who, let’s face it, is in there for defense.
- Christian Arroyo – called up yesterday from AAA where he was batting .418. He made two stellar defensive plays last night at 3B. I’m waiting to see him break out. He actually looks like an early version of Matt Williams from the late 1980’s.
- The Line-Up – was completely revamped this week with Pence leading off. I think that Panik should be leading off myself but what do I know. I will say that last night’s line up was a bit better. Let’s see what Bochy does tonight. We need guys that can get onbase at the top of the order, and Pence gets on base.
- Matt Cain – other than the tight hamstring, which was hopefully caught in time (when he was lifted after six innings of very good pitching) Matt Cain has been the surprise of the early season. He looks like the horse of old and has an ERA well under 3. This could be a harbinger of good times to come.
- Beating the Dodgers in this series - The boys in blue are almost as bad off as the G-Men and it is truly weird to see us fight for the cellar with the Dodgers after the pre-season analysis of dominance in the division. However, if we can take this series that will play great dividends when we get to September and have to face LA (and the Rockies!) with the playoffs on line.
- The “Lights-on!” rally! How cool is it when the entire stadium turns on cellphone lights at the same time in the late innings to highlight a rally!
- Drew Stubbs in Center Field while Span recovers (although Span hasn’t been exactly hitting the cover off the ball). Stubbs is at best a journeyman player (although he was a first round draft pick back in the day). Let’s hope that he has matured and can provide some offense to go along with what has always been a stellar defense.
- Christian Arroyo hitting over .300 in the show.
- Ty Blach taking on Clayton Kershaw tonight in the place of Bum. Does he have it? We will see.
- Nunez in left field making a significant contribution. He is the team leader in steals and is a great slap hitter but left field is a power hitter position, and we don’t have a power hitter.
- A slow but steady rise in the standings while playing solid fundamental baseball. It is a long season and a lot can happen but the moves made this week are good moves.
The NL West
The Rockies are in first place and playing great. The Snakes are right behind them and playing .619 ball. The Padres and the Dodgers are a game apart with the Giants bringing up the rear. Right now the Rockies are the surprise of the NL and are playing terrifically. The Giants and Dodgers are both trying to correct listing ships and the Padres are, well, the Padres.
May the Baseball Gods be good to all of us!
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!