Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Idle Thoughts While Anticipating the Hard Days Ahead by Ed Stern

Marty; The AllStar game is gone and should not be missed. The tough remaining part of the baseball year stretches in front of us. With respect to the AllStar game, it is time to surrender the idea that it is anything but a meaningless exhibition game. As such, it should not have meaningful consequences. Home field advantage in the World Series is such a consequence, despite the Yankees loss in a six game series last year. Hearing the comments of the players who participated yesterday, their repeated expressions that they were there for “fun”, simply demonstrates the consideration which should be given to it.

Click below for more from Ed! I’m back from the all star game and ready for the second half…Marty

The chase to sign Randy Johnson for the remainder of this season and the one year remaining on his contract is unseemly. Arizona is stuck with a monster contract on a team which is going nowhere. It is understandable that they are anxious to dump him in exchange for a few young players with futures, while at the same time relieving themselves of their multi-million dollar obligation.

If one looks at the standings in each league today, one observes that there are more than a few teams in the chase for the pennant. The West and Central Division in the American League are examples. In the National League, the West and East have close races with seven clubs realistically hopeful. Even the Central Division is not out of reach for the three teams chasing the Cardinals.

Yet the two teams most likely to end up with the ability to shell out the money necessary to buy Johnson’s services are the Yankees and Red Sox, although the Yankees, with a farm system, interestingly enough, with few attractive prospects, might have difficulty satisfying the D’backs desires.

The addition of Johnson to the Yankees somewhat wobbly rotation, coupled with their seven game lead, would seem to insure that their destination is the World Series. It doesn’t insure their win in the Series, where strange things frequently happen. Note last year, where they were conclusively beaten by a team with a comparatively small payroll but great performing young players. However, teams chasing the Yankees 180 million dollar payroll, if augmented by the addition of Johnson, could be in a fruitless chase.

It is true that the Red Sox might fight the Yankees, tooth and nail, for Johnson, but there are few other teams which could. The price is simply too high.

This is an unseemly situation. A 180 million dollar payroll should be sufficient. The fact is that the Yankees have enough television money to buy their way into the World Series, and if they proceed to do so, it would take much of the enjoyment from the rest of the year. Money alone shouldn’t determine the outcome of a 162 game knock-down, drag-out fight.

Whether anything can be done about this is questionable. This may be the world we live in and we must make the best of it. Perhaps the only solution is to continue to beat the Yankees when it counts, in the World Series. It would be pleasant, however, to allow other clubs in the race, teams which don’t have the financial means of Boston, NY and a few others.

Some thoughts respecting my beleaguered Giants. They went through a rough stretch of the schedule during the three weeks before the mid-way break. In great part, it was successful. They are a half game out of first, which, after an awful early season performance which saw them fall eight games behind LA, is not a bad place to be.

They have a crying need for pitching. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to fill that need. Watching Joe Nathan waltz through an inning yesterday, three up and three down, 19 pitches and two strikeouts, must have given the Giants brass more than one moment of justifiable self-questioning. This is exactly the same performance Nathan has been giving the Twins throughout the season.

He is one of the preeminent closers in the game and the Giants are in dire need of a preeminent closure. They would be willing to accept a closer not nearly as preeminent but who could instill a certain sense of confidence when he walked out there in the ninth, with the game on the line.

Watching Nathan, having in mind the problems the team has finding an acceptable setup man for the eighth inning, must have been painful. Nathan only won 12 games last year as a setup man. Pierzynski has been playing, recently, up to the standards he displayed last year with the Twins. Nevertheless, in today’s baseball world Pierzynski may not be enough compensation in exchange for a top-notch closer.

The last half now begins, with much of the Giants schedule for the next month and a half to be played on the road. If they are a half game out mid-August they will be in good shape.

It may be fun to watch. Let’s hope so!