Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Just What Is Wrong with the Giants? by Ed Stern

Marty; If there is one thing which should have been learned these past two years, writing some thirty five columns each year in following the fortunes and misfortunes of the Giants, it is that being inevitably opinionated once a week leaves one open to captions such as the above. A short time ago I pointed out the Giants pitching problems resided in the inability of the bullpen to get anyone out when it made a difference.

Note: Ed’s column was filed before Jerome Williams was optioned to Fresno.

Click below for more!
Since then the bullpen has performed well, particularly with the re-emergence of Benitez the other night. It is true that in the past I have mentioned the inadequacy of Rueter along with bullpen difficulties but there is nothing in Rueter’s performance to date which calls for a retraction. He goes tomorrow night and, in all likelihood, we will be spectators at another five inning outing with three or four runs being scored at his expense.

Williams, however, is another story. We have said that the pitching is going to determine whether we live or die this year. That remains today’s judgement. We also concluded that the rotation was strong enough to justify an optimistic outlook. This conclusion, however, was predicated on strong starts by both Lowry and Williams, the two young and relatively untried pitchers.

Lowry, for the most part has thrown well, to this point. Williams had very little last evening. At no time did he appear to be in command. He wasn’t throwing hard, he was leaving the ball over the plate. It came as no surprise to see Lee hit the ball over the fence a second time. The Giants cannot afford a weak outing from Williams every five days. Living with Rueter every fifth day is enough of a hardship. Schmidt is the same pitcher he has been for a number of years, just about as good as there is when he is healthy. There is no reason he cannot continue to be the bellwether.

The team is two games under five hundred. The expressed objective was to stay competative until Bonds returns. That demands at least an even split of the games to that point. Depending on the performance of the Dodgers and Padres that may not be good enough. The timing of Bonds’ return becomes less and less predictable as the days linger on. The same may be said as well wiith respect to his performance when he does return. This may not be the anticipated saviour.

It is not difficult to pinpoint the problems they have been having. Leaving aside the obvious, that the absence of Bonds leaves a gaping hole in a team which has been built around his tremendous output these past years, the rest of the players seem to be a significant improvement over last year. The clearest evidence of that is the presence of Vizquel at short. This is major league play of the highest order. Snow may not be performing at the unheard level of last years second half, but no one expected him to duplicate that success. He is hitting better than he has ever hit, with the exception of last year. He still plays as good a first base as anyone in the game.

Alou has returned and is beginning to hit. Grissom may be on the downgrade, hitting again into far too many double plays. Feliz has shown that he can play left field adequately. He has hit as well as had been expected.

Alfonzo has been playing, at bat and in the field, far better than he has played these past two years. This is a different Alfonzo, and a very welcome sight it is. He may even earn his salary this year. Matheny is not hitting but no one had the right to expect that he would be. Signing him, with Torrealba available, still remains questionable despite his recognized defensive capabilities.

The team, however, has not been winning consistently even though they appear to be fielding a better team than the past year. Bonds is not in the lineup, true, but with some timely hitting with men on base they might have been two games above rather than below five hundred. That will have to change. Williams has to pitch back to his rookie year. Tomko’s starts have been impressive enough to lead one to demand results somewhat in the nature of last year’s second half.

Pitching is still the name of the game. The predicted strong performance of every one of the four starters who have been counted on is the element needed to keep them in the hunt until Barry stops hobbling around on crutches. At some point they must stop abandoning all those men in scoring position.

They go against the Padres tonight. Lowry is throwing. Every day, this early in the year, seems to bring forth a new reason to question one’s earlier judgements. These games with San Diego may be no different.



1 Anonymous { 04.26.05 at 11:33 am }

You are right that the starting pitching is weak. The Giants
may have to bring up Cain or Foppert to fill the gap. Felipe
Alou has talked about using Torrealba as a second baseman to get his bat in the lineup, sort of what the astros did with biggio years ago.It is still early in the season and a 5 game winning streak will cure a lot of ills. Right now they must not panic. They have a good veteran club and they will be okay if the starters come around.
Jerry F

2 Anonymous { 04.27.05 at 10:21 am }

Jerry; I was at the game last night, Schmidt did not appear to be the pitcher we have come to expect and rely on. He was throwing off speed stuff most of the game. With Benitez hurt they are in deep trouble. There is no one on the staff who can fill that bill adequately. Snow carried the club, including his play on the last out. The game was tied if a lesser defensive first baseman was playing.


You must log in to post a comment.