Welcome to the 5th Czar’s blog of 2017
What happened to the G-Men, and where do we go from here?
This is going to be a relatively unusual blog from The Czar because there really isn’t much good that can be said about the last place team in the NL (10 games back) after the first month of the season, and the worst Giants start since the early 1990’s. The Giants have absolutely no offense, the starters are getting torched, the relievers can’t hold a lead and the defense has been breaking down at absolutely the worst possible time. To top it off, there are injuries up and down the line-up (Span, Crawford, Bumgarner, Hill, Parker, Will Smith and, as of today, our closer Melancon).
The boys are coming off a long (11 games, the longest of the year) road trip with the low point being a 5 game losing streak against the Reds and the Mets, and the high point being taking 2 out of 3 from the Dodgers.
There are several theories about what has happened. Before I put forth my humble opinion, however, I am going to turn the floor over to my good friend David Wofsy for his guest analysis.
It surprises me that anyone expected the Giants to be contenders this year. They had the worst record in baseball for the second half of last season. They created the illusion of being better than that by having one (and only one) good week at the end of the season (sweeping the Dodgers to squeak into the playoffs, beating the Mets behind Bumgarner, and looking competitive against the Cubs while losing three of four games).
So what happened in the off-season to the team with the worst record in baseball? They got worse. They lost Pagan from an already weak outfield and didn’t replace him. Pagan wasn’t great, but there were plenty of games last year in which he sparked the offense. They lost three experienced relievers who were admittedly at the end of the line, and replaced them with a reasonably good closer. However, even if you forgive Melancon’s shaky first month as a Giant, and even if you believe that one good reliever can fill three holes, he can only close if they carry a lead into the late innings. That isn’t happening very often.
The unavoidable truth is that the Giants entered the season weaker than the team that had been the worst team in baseball over a sustained period last season. So we really had little reason to expect much more than we are getting. Then they had the misfortune to lose a key lefty reliever (Smith) and their ace starter (albeit with an 0-4 record due to no offense). Posey’s beaning and Crawford’s injury may have cost them an additional game or two, but there is no evidence that their presence would have changed much. Belt is still Belt; Pence is showing his age, and Posey hits singles (unless the opportunity presents itself to hit into a double play).
Bottom line: They are who they were, only a little worse. Rebuilding time. Welcome Christian Arroyo.
The Bright Side: We have no right to complain. Over the past 15 years, the Giants are the only team in baseball to appear in four World Series, winning three and providing great excitement in all four playoff runs. They have earned the right to a bad year. I have had some bad years, too.
Keep the faith,
I think that the real take-away from David’s analysis is that there is a Bright Side and the only question is when will it start to shine. Arroyo is the real deal. He’s number 22 (and a Will Clark look-alike, with his number) at third base looking like a young Matt Williams.
However, I don’t think that it’s time to start talking about rebuilding. Rather it’s time to get healthy, take each game one at a time, relax and enjoy playing the greatest game known to man. The Giants are pressing and that never works. The pieces are there for a decent season and it’s time to start the climb out of the cellar. Crawford is back tomorrow, Span the week after and maybe there will be personnel surprises in the wings.
It’s time to cherish the Giants as they are, go to the games, root for a victory and relax as fans. We are not beach-ball blowing up come-lately fans. We are the Giants faithful. We lived through the 1962 loss to the Yankee’s, the lost years in 1983 to 1985 (100 losses for God’s sake!), and the rebuilding years after the 1989 world series earthquake loss to the A’s. We lived through the rally monkey in 2002 and we can live through this.
Personally, I trust Bruce Bochy and the front office. I know that they are out there seeking solutions. Obviously left field is the first priority but so is center and so is grooming a replacement for Pence two years from now. There are a lot of youngsters in AA and AAA (like Austin Slater) that will get the same kind of look that Arroyo is getting right now, and that might be ready for the show.
Regardless, the tale is not told on the scoreboard but in the dugout. It’s time to relax in the stands (and in the dugout) and send our love out on the field.
As David says, keep the faith!
This next two series are against two of the hottest teams in baseball: the Reds, who just swept the G-Men in Cincinnati, and LA, which is climbing in the standings. This is the time for us to show our support.
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!