Welcome to Czar’s blog #14 of 2017
The worst team in history? Not really
I’d like to start today’s blog by highlighting the team that really was the worst in history:
Cleveland Spiders, 1899 (20-134, .130)
This is the holy grail of bad baseball. In 1899, the owners of the Spiders purchased the St. Louis Browns franchise. They didn't give up their controlling interest in the Spiders, however, and decided to leverage their newfound conflict of interest by trading Cleveland's best players—to themselves. They decimated the Spiders' roster, sending the best players (including Cy Young) to St. Louis and fielding a team that became the worst in baseball history. After a 10-1 Opening Day loss, the Cleveland Plain Dealer pronounced on its front page "The Farce Has Begun." Had it ever.
The Spiders won consecutive games once all season. Home games were so poorly attended that other teams refused to travel to Cleveland to play them. As a result, the team played only 42 home games and were forced to play 112 games on the road, losing 101 of them. The pitching staff gave up 1,254 runs (averaging 8.1 per game), batters hit 12 home runs all season, and the Spiders set numerous other records that no team would ever want to own. In the end, the National League performed a mercy killing, disbanding the Spiders and three other teams as the league contracted from 12 teams to eight.
This puts it in context. The Spiders are now the Cleveland Indians, with the longest modern era winning streak since the 1916 New York Giants. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
The G-men are currently last in the NL West (and worst in baseball, behind even the Phillies) and the two goals for the remaining games of the season are first, not to lose 100 games, and second, to have an effect on the battle for wild card in the upcoming series against the Snakes and the Rockies. Of course, the first choice in the draft may not be so bad either.
Personnel Issues to address in the off-season, and maybe in September
Will the Panda come back? The jury is out, although with a .178 BA he is clearly not even hitting his weight. It’s a no-loss decision for the G-Men to invite him to Spring Training, but the competition at 3rd base next year (Arroyo and Ryder especially, and lots of FA hopefuls) will be intense.
Will the Bullpen Improve? Well, it can’t get any worse than it’s been this year. There are signs of hope if (1) Melancon heals completely and can return to the form that caused the G-Men to spend all that money on him, and (2) Will Smith’s Tommy John operation is successful and he comes back like he should. Coupled with a reinvigorated Sam Dyson and a slew of young relievers the bullpen should come around. The issue will be finding dependable slots for the young arms so that they know their roles.
Speaking of bullpens, did you see the dugout meltdown the other night by Eli Whiteside, the 2010 back-up catcher, current bullpen catcher and coach and Crash Davis clone? It was a thing of beauty. That is the kind of attitude that the Giants need to prosper. That, and either trading Hunter Strickland for a bag of peanuts, enrolling him in an anger management course or teaching him a second pitch.
Position player roulette? The problem isn’t that we don’t have good position players, it’s that they aren’t playing well together. The team has been out of sync all season. Belt is out with concussions, Hunter Pence is streaky, Span is fine when healthy but is slowing up and has a weak arm. Add to that the fact that left field is a black hole and every rookie that has come up has gone back down injured (see: Parker, Arroyo, Slater) and you have a last place team made up of good players. Crawford, Panik and Tomlinson (super sub) are not going anywhere, and Buster’s legend grows game by game.
The Pitching Staff, all that bad? I don’t think that Bum is fully healthy. That is something to be addressed in the off-season. Cueto is apparently coming back and when he doesn’t have blisters he’s good. Samardjiza is a flame thrower but Matt Moore (who cost us Duffy) is a lost cause. There are also great young arms ready to break out – Stratton and Blach being on top of the list. The bottom line is that the talent is there but is not performing. Again, the team is out of sync.
The Coaching staff and the Front Office – is it their fault? I do think that this is where the blame lies. Bochy is a hall of fame manager but seems grouchier than usual this season (losing does that to you I suppose) and the front office hasn’t made any moves to really shake things up – like trading Bumgarner for Stanton (just kidding, but maybe not). There will be a lot of questions to discuss before spring training 2018 rolls around.
The Snakes and Rockies – Battle for the Wild Card, or the Division!
This is why the remaining games of the season (until we get to the Padres, which will be baseball games played for pride and to prevent 100 losses) are important.
The Rockies are chasing the Snakes for the wild card, along with the Pirates and the Cardinals. It is conceivable that three NL West teams could be in the playoffs and it’s up to the Giants to play well enough to see that doesn’t happen. The Dodgers have clinched at least a wild card (and seem to be falling apart – did someone take Joba’s rum?) but these last series are critical, and the G-Men have a real role to play.
Let’s see if the Gigantes can suck it up and make a statement.
Ciao, and GO GIANTS!