Earlier this week the 40-50 San Francisco Giants played their most recent "worst game of the 2013 season"-- this time a 16 inning 4-3 loss to the New York Mets.
A 7-2 victory by rookie starter Zack Wheeler on Wednesday completed the Mets' first three game sweep in San Francisco in 19 years. Wheeler, you may recall, is the former 2009 1st round draft pick of the Giants whom they traded to the Mets in 2011 for two months of Carlos Beltran.
As soon as I get my hands on a sufficient amount of prescription anti-depressants I'll publish a list of the "top 20 worst Giant games" from the first half of the 2013 season.
Anyway, I was watching episodes of "Shameless" on Showtime and occasionally checking in on the 16 inning Mets debacle when I received an email from a friend.
Sabean gives the most honest, direct and brutally realistic quotes and statements about a Giants team that I've ever read from him. For Sabean to shed his usual ambiguous talk-around style, whose purpose is to obsure his real thoughts about the team, this is extraordinary.
And it indicates just how far and how quickly the 2012 World Series Champions have fallen the past month.
This is especially astonishing because we're a week away the the All Star Game and there's 74 games left to play on the schedule. Even when things go as badly as they have gone for San Francisco it's rare for management to be so candid and not try to keep up a positive facade for the fanbase.
You still hear the broadcasters toe the positive line, but what are Jon Miller, Mike Krukow, and Duane Kuiper supposed to do? I'm sure this season is depressing as hell for them too but they're professionals.
Plus, they have access to the same Calera Pinot Noirs and Shafer Cabs that are helping me through these difficult times.
Management normally keeps up the "we can still do this" smoke screen to the bitter end-- because the Giants have 38 home games left to play and they want 38 sell-outs. And during those home games the team needs to move hundreds of Buster Posey jerseys and tons of other gear at their retail stores. As well as untold amounts of hot dogs, garlic fries, and beverages.
To say nothing about game time TV and radio ratings, and dozens of additional hours of local pre and post-game radio and TV programming produced each week of the baseball season.
To see Sabean being so transparently analytical about the depth of the Giants' slide before the All Star break is unprecedented. And absolutely fascinating.
Here are several excerpts:
> " ...we've been too damn inconsistent. We've earned our record."
> "When you're seven games below [.500], you've got to go like hell to get to 500. Then you start doing the math on what you have to do the rest of the way. Is it going to be 86, 88, 90 games to win the division? That's where you have to be realistic."
> "You can't remake the whole lineup; you can't remake the whole team. We've been miserable in scoring runs obviously; we've been miserable on the road. So there's no possible way you can get as much help as you actually need from the outside world. It's just not going to happen."
Reading between the lines doesn't take a cryptographer
1. There will not be any significant trades, especially trades involving moving the organization's few above average minor league prospects.
2. The offensive problems that have dogged the organization even when they were winning two World Series have now hit critical mass. And it's not about injuries.
It's about a team not creating runs from left field and first base-- normally high run-producing positions. It's about starting the season without an adequate bench. It's about Pablo Sandoval's worsening conditioning issues. And it's about a minor league system that simply does not have Major League-ready position players.
3. Expect the Giants to do something they very rarely have ever done: become sellers at the trade deadline.
At this point it's not about additions to the 25 man roster-- this team needs to begin stocking their minor league system with some legitimate prospects. That means Hunter Pence for several quality minor leaguers from another organization-- something the fanbase and the clinically-challenged sports talk radio community will scream about.
That also means the Giants need to get whatever they can get for Tim Lincecum. As soon as possible. And it won't be a lot. Lincecum is not going to be re-signed by San Francisco in the off-season so the window of opportunity to get something back for him is narrowing by the day.
Several younger players that have become fan favorites might have to go. Like Brandon Belt, who may need a change of scenery to blossom. But again, expect the Giants to seek minor league players in return at this point.
All of a sudden, these have become extremely tough times.
sabean has responded to what he's seen, not to what he wishes he'd seen; some of their parts are worn, and they're showing it; there's a nucleus there, but not a full-fledged team...look at pablo and think "fat chance"
Great article. It really is crazy to see this kind of attitude around a team that's been very successful and made some huge memorable runs in the past few seasons.
It is difficult to understand why this team came apart so quickly. Sure, injuries and slumps contributed but all teams go through that.
I think the team they built in Spring Training had major flaws and that house of cards did not last long into the season before it came down.
As late as May 26th the Giants were in 1st place having just taken two out of three at home against the Rockies. On June 23rd they were in 2nd place-- but that's the date the Great Collapse of 2013 started.
From June 23rd through July 10th San Francisco went 2-14 and woke up with a 40-50 record in 4th place. And that was just a matter of weeks ago.
The Giants had a short window of opportunity to fix things but decided be cautious and stand pat. At the same time the Dodgers have been winning, making trades, improving their team. And Arizona is about to make some deals, which will keep them in the NL West hunt the rest of the season.