Welcome to Czar’s blog #10 of 2017
It’s now the second half of the season, is there still hope?
There is always hope but competing for a play-off spot is a dim dream that would require a winning streak never before experienced in MLB. What there is hope for is another 2 and ½ months of solid baseball where the G-Men are hitting, the pitchers are dealing, the runners are being advanced and the fans are in the stands drinking great wine and eating crab sandwiches on a bright summer day. This is San Francisco after all.
As the introduction to the Czar’s blog archive on our website puts it (we can’t be reminded too often):
“…They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” - Field of Dreams
What do the Giants Need to compete?
Power bats. That is what is missing. Only Posey is hitting as well at home as he is on the road. Recall the days of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent when the G-Men had as many dingers as anyone in baseball. That is no longer the case. No one has a really good explanation (and blaming the park is bogus) but it’s clear that we need boppers. Watching Stanton during the Marlins series was an eye-opener. He reminded me of the great Giants hitters of yore, from Jack Clark to Will Clark to Matt Williams to Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. I would salivate over seeing Stanton in a Giants uniform. Not going to happen but we can dream.
I’m not the only one who has noticed the lack of pop. I suspect that as Bobby Evans starts to wheel and deal for position players in the minors this need will be foremost in his thinking.
The Pitching in the second half
Bum is back tomorrow, and has two months to make up for his egregious motorcycle ride in Colorado. Is he chastised? I tend to doubt it. Will he come back with a chip on his shoulder? Undoubtedly. A stud pitcher makes everyone better.
Cain is moving to the bullpen and will be a spot starter as his career winds down, and he seems fine with that (so are we). Cain has had a lot of good years in the Orange and Black, and he will eventually be on the wall on King Street.
If Samardjiza and Cueto don’t get traded (and they won’t unless the price is really good – Cueto has gone on record as saying that he wants to stay) the rotation could end up being what it should have been all year- that’s a good thing. Thebottom line is that that pressure is off and the upcoming series (against teams playing generally at the same level as the Giants are playing, except for maybe the Tribe) should do a lot for pitcher confidence.
The Bullpen after the break
We really like Sam Dyson. He’s a project that worked out. I don’t know when (realistically) Melancon is coming back but the two of them would be a welcome sight in the 8th and 9th innings. I still think that Strickland is a head case and the other guys are question marks (Kontos has been good though). I think that if the back end of the bullpen is strong it will take the pressure off the young guys and they will also perform better.
What do the Giants need for the future?
See above: big bats. The injuries to Austin Slater (probably out for the year) and Arroyo (maybe back in September) are really a bummer. Those two are the future at left field and third base (although Hwang is looking like he is going to be more than adequate this summer, especially backed by Gillespie). We do have Jarret Parker coming back, maybe in one of these series. He was playing very well when he busted his shoulder open against the wall.
Now we need a young center fielder and a right fielder (does anyone think that Hunter has more than another year, maybe two, left in him?). Look for outfielders with pop in the minor leagues to be the players that Evans goes after in trades.
Speaking of trades I would be very surprised if Span is a Giant on August 1st but I would hate to see Crawford, Panik and Belt also gone (all are great defensive players) but who knows what will happen. The only untouchable players to me are Posey and Bum.
The upcoming series – The Indians, Padres and Pirates – time to get healthy!
The big test will be the Indians, who are currently leading the AL Central by 2.5 games. The Tribe is playing Oakland this weekend and coming into AT&T on Monday. The studs are Jose Ramirez (.332 BA), Encarnacion (18 dingers) and Corey Kluber (2.80 ERA) and the games will be fun regardless of what happens. If the G-Men take the series that will be incredibly motivating.
Regardless, how can anyone not like the Tribe? They are middle America and field of dreams baseball personified.
Then we get the Padres, 5 games in front of the G-Men in the NL West and in a rebuilding year (around Wil Myers). Never ever forget what the Padres have done to the Giants over the years. I doubt that the Friars will come into AT&T overconfident but this is an important series. If the G-Men come out of this by closing up the division the season will be a lot more fun. One game at a time.
At the back end of the long series will be the Pirates, who are Andrew McCutchen’s team. The Bucs are in 4th place in the NL Central and looking up at the Cubs and the Brewers, and down at the Reds. The teams are actually pretty evenly matched and the series ought to be really fun.
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!