Astros, Nationals and the Awful Month of August

Welcome to the 10th Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants! 

 

It’s August, the injuries are piling up again and the pitching is the problem

Let’s get right down to it – the DL.

The DL includes Aoki (concussion – he was beaned), Pagan (his knees are gone and I will be surprised to see him back anytime soon – maybe in September when rosters expand), Panik (back tightness, due back in mid-August, but a very troubling injury for such a young guy), Susac (also due back in mid-August from his thumb sprain) and Scutaro (he’s done and will retire at the end of the season).

On the pitcher DL are Hudson (really in reserve because of his age and inability to get through more than 4 innings without getting pounded), Timmy (no one knows when, or if, he will be ready) and, worst of all, Mike Leake the pitcher who the G-Men traded for at the deadline (from Cincinnati) and who immediately sprained his hamstring.  Leake is a real loss because he’s young, looks a lot like Heston and should be a good number two or three starter. It was, until the injury, one of the better trades in the NL.

The G-Men home grown hitters (Posey, Panik, Pence, Duffy, Crawford and Belt) are now carrying the team. The Giants are hitting the cover off the ball (best hitting team in the NL), which (incidentally) is all that is keeping them alive considering how terrible the pitching has been. Getting swept by the Cubs to finish a 3 and 7 road trip was very painful – but the Cubbies (having won something like 8 straight) are for real under Joel Maddon and will be at AT&T very soon.  Watching the Giants defense behind Crawford, Duffy and Belt and then the hitting, knowing that these guys are all home grown and here for a long time, is an incredible treat

I don’t even want to talk about Casilla (even though he got the save tonight) but let’s leave it at the bullpen has been clearly tired and not effective. For the starters Peavy has looked serviceable, Bum is nails (witness the complete game 12 K gem against the Astros on Tuesday), Heston looks very good, Vogie had his best recent game tonight (even though he only went 5 innings – he does belong in the pen) but Matt Cain looks lost, and is pitching like he is lost.

To get through this month of August while facing all of the best teams in the NL, the G-Men must have better pitching. I hope that Leake is really back next week.

One of the most intriguing news items of the last week is the confirmation that the Giants are making a run at getting Chase Utley for the bench behind Panik (Tomlinson – what a start he’s had as a Clark Kent lookalike - is fun to watch but he’s the future, and a good looking future at that).  Utley (if healthy, and he is apparently getting healthy) would be a powerful veteran force off the bench and a great pick-up for the G-Men.

For some reason I keep thinking of Ryan Theriot and the impact he had.

Can the G-Men hold off the magnificent 7 to make a legitimate run at the playoffs?

It is time to watch the scoreboard because it’s almost September and the playoff field is shaping up.  The Mets are on top of the NL east and 4 games over the Nationals, who are desperate to get one of the two wild card spots (good luck with that). 

In the current competition for those two wild card spots are the Giants, Cubs and Pirates.  That’s why these four games against the Nationals are so important – this could be the National’s season (unless the Mets collapse). There are 5 playoff spots for 7 contending teams right now. St. Louis is a lock for NL Central (73 and 51? They might be the 27 Yankee’s) and both Pittsburgh and the Cubs (3 games better than the G-Men and coming off a sweep) have better records than the Giants.  That leaves the Dodgers (2.5 games ahead of the G-Men) as the real enemy and the real opportunity.  The Giants best realistic hope for a playoff berth are to beat the Dodger’s head to head and to win enough other games to take the division. The Giants are closer to the Dodger’s than they are to the wild card.

Speaking of the Dodger’s didn’t everyone love seeing Puig put on the waiver wire?  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  My LA sources tell me that Puig is such a cancer on the team that Grienke is threatening not to re-sign if they keep Puig. That’s what happens when too much money chases too many egos.

As this month is completed we will see the Pirates and the Cardinals back to back away starting next week, and then the Cubs and the Cardinals at AT&T for the end of the month, before we see the Dodgers in LA.  I don’t think that the schedule can get any tougher than that. These are the games to watch to see how the G-Men match up against these teams (especially the Cardinals) if they make the play-offs.

The Astros and the Nationals – it doesn’t get any better until (maybe) September

The G-Men split against the Astros (who are leading the AL West and are a scrappy little team- yes I am talking about Altuve – full of A’s refugees) and won tonight in the first game of the 4 game series against the Nationals, There are three games left against the Nationals. Tomorrow it’s Scherzer against Cain, a match-up that doesn’t look very good for us and will be the real test for Matt Cain. Saturday is Peavy.

It’s time for baseball!

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

The Czar

The Padres and the Rockies

Welcome to the 7th Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants! 

 

The question of the day - - Will the G-Men win another series at home?

It really hurts to lose 9 out of the last 10 games at home (does anyone remember what Tony Bennett sounds like?). Somewhat balancing that disaster the G-Men currently possess the best road record in the NL. What goes here? We take 2 out of three from the Dodgers and then get swept by the Snakes and the Pirates? It is a strange season for sure. Up and down is putting it mildly.  This is like a roller coaster.  Last year the G-Men had an outstanding May and went into the tank in June but even then (at June 22) they were 45-30 as versus today’s 38-33.  That’s a shot of perspective. The G-Men really need to get it on.

The question is which direction are we going in?  I say we maintain the momentum, start hitting at home (it’s hard to win when you don’t score runs), get our pitching back and start a winning streak.

To break the home losing streak I also suggest that the Giants keep the team in a hotel on this home stand – I’m just saying that if they play that well on the road maybe we should pretend they are still the away team.  I think another team somewhere did just that it break a home losing streak but I can’t recall who or where (any idea out there?)

Certainly injuries are taking their toll, the worst being Pence’s wrist.  The most current information is that Pence will most likely be out until after the All-Star game.  We need his energy, badly.  The latest injury is Aoki’s leg bruise.  He’s not on the DL but we also need him (certainly he’s the best off-season acquisition the Giants have made since Cody Ross in 2010) leading off and batting..317, with 33 runs, 19 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases.  This does give Pagan some shot at lead off again and he thrives there.

It is also true that the stars of tomorrow are playing for the Giants today.  I’ll take Panik, Duffy, Crawford and Posey any day over a Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.  We will be telling our grandchildren that we saw this infield.  Panik and Crawford deserve to be All-Stars, Posey already is, and I wonder if Duffy will be eligible for rookie of the year.

So, bottom line, all is not lost and we are looking for a good week at home.

Right now Maxwell is in for the duration at right field, McGeehee is on the bench as a pinch hitter (where he has been surprisingly effective as long as there are no men on first base so that he can hit into a double play) and Blanco is showing what he can do with more playing time (a lot because he isn’t worn down yet).

On a side note, the G-Men resigned Marco Scutaro so that he could retire as a Giant.  That was an incredibly classy move. No one will ever forget the arms to the heaven in the rain moment at the end of the 2012 NLCS. The only thing that I wish for is a snow globe of Scutaro at that moment for my bobblehead wall.

Anyone for a six-man rotation?

Cain and Peavy are almost ready to come back.  A healthy Cain is a number one or two guy, a healthy Peavy is maybe a number three guy, at best.  The book right now is that Lincecum goes to the pen (lasting an inning an half yesterday might have sealed it, although he still has a better ERA than Hudson, Vogelsong and Peavy).  That would be because Timmy has shown in the playoff’s that he can be effective out of the pen. My prediction is that either Vogelsong also goes in the pen and Strickland and Broadway (I love that name) go to Sacramento or that Strickland stays and Hudson comes down with a mysterious (but not serious) 39 year old muscle pull somewhere that is enough to place him on the DL for a month.

Lining up after the All-Star break (probably) will be Bum, Cain, Heston, Peavy and Hudson.  No need to talk about the pen because they have been nails, and Strickland does look like the real thing as the closer of the future.  Does anyone else see his resemblance to Robb Nen? He has Nen’s fastball and Wilson’s attitude.

The Upcoming Series against the Padres and the Rockies

Winning at home is the goal over the next six games against the NL West where the Giants are 9 and 17 against NL West teams not named the Dodgers. Unfortunately the 9 and 17 record is mostly against the Padres and the Rockies.  Everyone knows by now how tough those two teams are and what a dog fight the next six games will be – I want to see it and I want the G-Men to win. We are a game and half behind the Dodgers and it’s time to start pulling away.

 

It’s time for baseball!

 

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

The Czar

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