Could things get any worse for the 2013 San Francisco Giants? Possibly.
They could be forced to move to the American League West. Or told that, as part of MLB's international outreach, they're opening the 2014 season playing the Cubs in Damascus Stadium, Syria.
So, sure, things could get worse but at this point it would have to involve an out of control gasoline truck hurtling towards a fireworks factory.
The Giants have had the following series of unfortunate circumstances happen to them so far this season:
1. Injuries to Pablo Sandoval (strained left foot tendon), Marco Scutaro (left pinkie damaged), Angel Pagan (strained hamstring)-- the 1-3 hitters in the line-up. Also Santiago Casilla (cyst in right knee), and Ryan Vogelsong (fractured right hand).
All teams have injuries and have to work through them. To successfully work through them you have to have a credible bench and this has been one of the team's biggest negatives since Spring Training. Over-the-hill veterans and untested minor leaguers are not usually found on the bench of winning teams.
2. Pitching, the cornerstone of their 2010 and 2012 World Series Championships, has left the building.
I don't want to get into a lot of technical jargon about angles of release and delivery mechanics so I'll simply reference the words of the late John Candy-- "They blowed up real good".
> After 64 games San Francisco starting pitchers do not have a complete game; they're 5th in NL walks (209), 22nd among all 30 MLB teams in ERA (4.27), and 13th out of 15 NL teams with a 1.33 WHIP.
> Barry Zito (15-8 in 2012, 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the post season) has a home/road split that is achieving historic proportions: at AT&T Park Zito is 4-1 / 1.94 ERA; on the road he's 0-4 / 11.28 ERA.
> Staff ace Matt Cain, at the one year anniversary of his 2012 perfect game, has a 5.09 ERA. And yet he has a miraculous 4-3 record-- world religions have been built on less.
> Ryan Vogelsong is on the disabled list and everyone seems to be extremely anxious to get him back. Why? Vogelsong is 2-4, 7.19 ERA, 1.73 WHIP.
3. Lack of offense, the ghost that haunts every Giants team since Barry Bonds emptied his locker, is alive and well.
For some strange reason Giant fans have the impression that the 2013 offense has been "better" than in recent years. Maybe it feels "better", but it actually "isn't better":
Average runs scored per game:
2013 (64 games) - 4.33 runs;
2012 - 4.43 runs;
2010 - 4.30 runs.
> The Giants are 16th of 30 MLB teams in runs scored (277); 7th in the NL.
> Home runs? San Francisco is 28th out of 30 MLB teams with 47 HRs. Only Miami and Kansas City have fewer (33).
> Giant hitters are 4th in the National League in grounding into double plays (GIDP) with 58. Sabermetric models have shown that hitting into DPs has an even bigger negative impact on a game than simply making two outs.
> Extra base hits (XBH), specifically doubles and triples, have been the mother's milk of Giant offenses the past several seasons. But so far San Francisco is 9th in the NL with 180 XBH.
Speaking of ghosts, the 2013 return of several former Giant players is not working out so well. Reliever Ramon Ramirez is toting around a 11.12 ERA (2.47 WHIP) in the bullpen and doesn't look anything like the reliever he was in 2010. Ramirez should be the first player the Giants cut loose.
But here's the most amazing thing about this particular bottom of the barrel. The San Francisco Giants are 33-31, three games out of 1st place in the NL West.
After 64 games in 2012 they were 36-28 in 2nd place, four games out; in 2011 they were 36-28, in 1st place by two games. And in 2010 they were, you guessed it, 36-28, in third place 1.5 games out.
There are 98 games left on the schedule. Plenty of time for the Giants' front office team of GM Brian Sabean, President Larry Baer, Vice President Bobby Evans, and Manager Bruce Bochy to take some chances and exit the damn barrel.
I couldn't agree more.
The Giants just won two games in a row, shutting out Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Which is a great boost and could allow them to have a winning road trip at a time when things looked bleak.
But the front office can't cross their fingers and hope that marginal players like Andres Torres, Gregor Blanco, and their talent-poor bench will somehow play above their abilities and take the NL West. The Giants' braintrust has been there before and I'm hoping they'll be proactive before the trade deadline.
good one; my phrase was "Giants Baseball - Unwatchable", but as I recall I think I felt the same way around this time in 2010 when we seemed to lead the universe in grounding into double plays, leaving guys stranded on the bases, etc. But they did have three legitimate starting pitchers and a great bullpen in 2010; the thing that perhaps worries me most is that I expect that most Giants fans see us only three games out with all of the troubles we are having and are sitting back thinking that this thing will eventually turn itself around on its own. Hopefully Baer and Sabean are not pickling in that barrel.