Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Giants and Their Illusory 10 Game Winning Streak

Marty– I ws involved in a spirited baseball discussion in the middle of last night’s game. Are the Giants for real? Was their ten game winning streak reality and not an erroneous perception? Are they in the hunt for a postseason spot? Finally, should we not have given up on them?

The gentleman’s view, despite his being, in every respect save his baseball judgment, exceedingly smart, might be somewhat colored by the fact that he is an ardent fan, has season tickets and it took a long time to convince him that Marvin Benard was an albatross around the team’s neck.

Click below for the continuation of Ed’s baseball story, it’s terrific.
To painfully repeat what was pointed out in the earlier going, this is a team with obvious basic weaknesses. Weaknesses which are so pervasive that they cannot be eliminated by waiving Hammonds and calling up Todd Linden. Weaknesses which are beyond Sabean’s ability to overcome this July, when teams traditionally go into the trade market for fresh blood. The Giants do not have attractive trade material.

If one wished to define the Giants’ problems one could do worse than look at the call-up of Damon Minor to play first base when Snow went on the DL. Minor has been up before. A few years ago he was called up and virtually handed the first base job. It had already become clear that Snow’s days as a productive offensive force were past. Minor was the heir apparent, one of the few position players in the farm system which the team was proud of.

Unfortunately, although given every chance to succeed, Minor, over parts of three seasons, demonstrated that he was never going to hit major league pitching. He was released, caught on with a couple of other teams for a short while and finally ended up out of the game. That is, until this year, when the Giants signed him once again.

He had lost 15 pounds, had undergone laser surgery on his eyes which, in his words, enabled him for the first time to see a curve ball and hit it. He started the season in Fresno and when recalled by the Giants a few weeks ago, was hitting well over three hundred with a respectable long ball record. Fresno,however, is not the major league. In the few games played since being brought up, Minor has demonstrated that he still has problems solving major league pitching. Alou brought Cruz in to hit for Minor last night which is indicative of a certain lack of respect on Alou’s part.

This leaves the team awaiting Snow’s return. Snow is a first baseman hitting .238 with one home run. If Minor was a significant talent Snow would be out of a job. Minor gives no indication that he is ready to replace even the inadequate Snow.

Assuming that we are going to see the healthy appearance of Durham one of these days, the issue confronting Alou will be whether the team is better with Feliz playing first, Perez at shortstop and Snow on the bench, or Feliz playing shortstop ( a work in progress), Snow at first and Perez sitting down. It comes down to the choice between Perez and Snow. Whatever the decision by Alou is,and it may be a decision made on a day by day basis, it is not an impressive infield.

Feliz is improving daily in the shortstop role. He may ultimately solve the Giants’ problem at that position. His hitting still leaves something to be desired. He has yet to identify the strike zone. He swings at too many bad pitches. Thirty-eight strikeouts and five walks tells this story.

But standing out in the litany of bad news is the state of the pitching staff. In today’s rotation are five pitchers, one, Schmidt, who may be the best starter in the league and four others who have trouble going beyond the fifth inning. Williams is young and promising and may be the answer as a second starter who can eat some innings but isn’t consistently there yet. The other three are starters one usually sees on losing ball clubs. The bull pen, which has won twelve of the team’s twenty-six wins, has been, along with Schmidt, the team’s pitching mainstay. The other four starters have managed eight wins, Williams having four of them.

The inability to go into late innings has placed a great burden on the bullpen. This is beginning to show and the season has only gone into it’s third month. By August this bullpen may be a disaster zone. However one looks at it, this pitching staff is as weak as any in the league. Even in a division as weak as this one, and it is undeniably the weakest in the league, the Giants pitching should not give anyone hope that this is a playoff team.

As for the rest of the team,Tucker is playing as well as one could have expected of a journeyman player. Pierzynski is a major disappointment, received in a trade for an effective closer, Joe Nathan; Bonds and Grissom are doing the best they can to carry this club. Durham, when healthy, is a winning player but his health is a constant concern.

This is not a good team, despite the ten game winning streak. There are not going to be many more ten game streaks. The hope is that managment will begin to understand that it must address systemic issues, such as the failure to develop young position players capable of playing at a winning level beyond the minors. The policy, maintained by the team for some time, has been to avoid the necessity of paying high placed draftees and use the money saved to pick up and pay veteran players in their place. This practice has to be reexamined.

The team and its farm system, as it now stands, requires, by managment, a thorough review of what brought them to their present state and what steps must be taken to improve things. False optimism respecting how well they will do this year should not stand in the way.



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