Tuesday, May 09, 2006

32 Games In: What's Going On?

posted by BH

I don't think, at this point, any Giants fan will tell you this is where they thought the Giants would be thirty-something games into the season. 15-17, 4.5 back of the "What-the-hell?" Rockies in the NL West. I thought that by this time, San Francisco would be more likely sporting something around a 20-12, a few games up on the rest of the division. As it turns out though, there's a reason no other team wants to compose itself entirely of 84 year-olds. I kid, but Brian Sabean's reliance on the veteran has become absurd. That Lance Niekro, Kevin Frandsen and Matt Cain have gotten significant playing time this season demonstrates that at least management understands the importance of developing home grown talent, in the infield anyway.

CF- Randy Winn: The Winn that came over from Seattle in a trade last summer was not actually Randy Winn. The guy the Giants have playing center this season is the Randy Winn we all expected. .276 BA, 2 HR, .346 OBP, .416 SLG is more reasonable. In reality, the Giants needed him to be the player that made fans say "Barry who?" at the end of last season. That Winn would have better hidden the warts on this team. He's a solid player and has quickly become a fan favorite. He just needs to be solid with a .385 BA and 8 HR.

2B- Ray Durham/Kevin Frandsen: I was sad to see Durham head to the DL. Okay, that's a lie. I have grown rather indifferent to the annual Durham DL extravaganza, yet this time I was happy about it since it seemed likely that the team would call on Frandsen rather than plug the hole at second with Jose Vizcaino. It apears that Durham is playing out the last year of a contract that has seen him go from reliable, everyday, leadoff hitting second baseman with power, to...something else. Frandsen got off to a hot start, but has tailed off a bit. That's to be expected, but one has to like what this kid is doing at the plate and in the field. His approach in the batter's box seems to consistently be trying to hit the ball back up the middle. He doesn't try to play outside himself, instead staying true to his up-the-middle approach. He has been compared favorably to Robby Thompson. Um, I'll take that. What will happen when Durham comes back? Either Frandsen goes back to Fresno or Vizcaino goes the way of Jeff Fassero. I see Frandsen in a Grizzlies uni by the end of the month.

3B- Pedro Feliz: After a horrid start, Feliz seems to be rediscovering the stroke that has made him a mediocre corner infielder at the plate. Really, with Feliz, the Giants have to be happy with him hovering around .250, hitting a home run once every fifth or sixth game. His defense has been amazing, having benefitted from being the everyday third baseman this season. If he played in New York, he'd be getting some Gold Glove love.

LF- Barry Bonds: A slow start had every douchebag in the country saying "I wonder." Now that the weather is heating up, Bonds has been looking a little closer to the Bonds of old. He's not as good as he used to be. He's not going to hit 40 jacks. He's an adventure in the outfield. But dude. Watching him hit abaseball 7,000 feet the other night in Philly was amazing. People can say what they want about the guy, but he still changes the game and is still fun to watch. Yeah the Philly fans booed, but that stadium was buzzing after Bonds' shot. They also waited around for his last at-bat of the night before heading for the exits.

RF- Moises Alou: Thank God his ankle's not broken. All I could think of listening to the radio when Alou went down was that we were going to be seeing a lot more Mark Sweeney in the outfield. The season flashed before my eyes and it went something like this: 62-100. Alou had been the Giants hottest hitter, and the only real consistent spark each night. His numbers are a Bondsian .376, 7, 25. Seriously. I thank God he's not out for the year.

1b- Lance Niekro: I want this guy to do well. He's the most promising power-hitting farm-hand the Giants have produced in a long time. I worry that Felipe and Sabean are going to have a quick hook with Niekro, giving his AB's to Sweeny and Finley on a consistent basis. His numbers have been disappointing, but he's one guy I feel they should be sticking with. He's got a lot of upside. If someone would just point out that he's dropping his back shoulder like it's twenty pounds heavier than the other one, he might make some progress.

SS- Omar Vizquel: As I wrote a few weeks ago, Vizquel is the best player I've ever seen. His offensive numbers have been a bonus this season, but will almost certainly end up around the .290 level. Defensively, he's a freak. His arm's not what it used to be. He doesn't have the range he once did. None of that matters. He's still the best defensive shortstop in the NL by a mile. When a ball is hit to short, you know something good is going to happen.

C- Mike Matheny: Offensively? Pluh. Defensively? Solid, but something hasn't been feeling right about him behind the plate this year. I don't really know what it is. Maybe it's that I haven't seen him throw a guy out in a while. I could be totally off on this. He still seems to call a great game, but how much worse off would the staff be without Matheny behind the plate? I guess, having written that, I would rather see him behind the dish than almost any other player in the majors. He's steady. You know you're going to get maximum effort with little to no mental fubars (I'm looking at you Benito).

SP- Let's just do a catch-all here. Schmidt has been looking like a stud, Lowry's back a looks like the pitcher we saw last August, Morris looks like Bret Tomko, Cain looks like he's learning, and Wright looks like a fifth starter. Hennessey has kind of comtinued his trend of looking like Cy Young for two starts, then Anthony Young for another. Correia looks promising and deserves a shot in the rotation. He has been as effective as anyone else.

Bullpen- Crap. I don't want to write about this. Armando Benitez has the scariest 0.00 ERA in the history of baseball. The team has already unloaded two dead arms in Tyler Walker and Jeff Fassero. Scott Munter's sinker is staying up. Jeremy Accardo is iffy at best, though with his stuff, I can't see how he ever gives up a hit. Tim Worrell is a can of gasoline.

This team looked good for 24 games. It all started to hit the fan the exact moment Jamie Wright hit Brian Giles in San Diego. The Pads put up a huge inning, and the Giants never recovered. Maybe last night's win is a sign that they are starting to straighten things out. We'll see. It's one win, and it's hard to get all gung-ho about it.


Stapes said...

Here's a good doom and gloom article for you to ponder.


phil said...

That's two wins. Now I'm excited again.

The Phillies really crushed us. Dead. It was like we were playing with our shoelaces tied together.

I really enjoy saying "we" as if I'm playing for the team.

But Niekro looked awesome last night, and good the night before. That makes me really excited. And Schmidt is back to being Schmidt.

As much as I like the guy, I get scared everytime Frandsen handles the ball. His throws to first are always a bit off... nothing bad has happened yet with that. Oh, but trust me, it will. Game 7 vs. the Reds. Hatteberg scores on an errant throw to first. Reds win the pennant. Reds win the pennant.

bh said...

Yeah, Phil. Last night's win reinforced the happiness I was feeling following Monday night's win. It seems like team, when it's on, has the ability to put up a couple multi-run innings per game rather than scratching for a run here and there.

Niekro did look good. Off the bat, it looked like his bomb was a pop-up. He's been putting some good AB's together (except for the abortion that was his last plate appearance last night)

I'd still rather have Frandsen and scary throws in there as opposed to Durham and his glove made out of concrete.