Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The end of an era; will it be with a bang or a whimper?

Marty: The Giants are within striking distance of first place in the division and/or the wild card. This, after an up and down season to date, a year in whch they have endured lengthy losing streaks coupled with a recovery in which they managed to overtake the pack mid-season for a game or two but quickly went into a lengthy losing streak that deposited them at the bottom of the division. Rising from that low level, today they look back at a fourteen game period during which they have won eleven games, largely the result of great starting pitching.

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It has been endlessly repeated, this is an ancient ball club, a club that will clean house during the up-coming off-season. Irrespective of what happens during the remaining thirty-one games, whether they lead to a play-off spot or not, this past perceived wisdom is not subject to dispute. Of the forty- year oldsters the only one sure to return is Vizquel, a true Hall of Fame player.

The likelihood of Bonds playing for the Giants in 2007 is remote. Whether he will be in a position to play for anyone depends largely on the outcome of the Feds decision respecting possible criminal charges. If such charges finally surface, only idle speculation is available respecting the results of a criminal trial. It is possible that few teams, if any, including the Giants, would wish to gamble big money on Bonds, no matter what Bonds’s situation is in April, 2007.

Finley is gone. He still plays as good a center field as one could wish for but he no longer can hit. Whether the Giants end up signing Feliz, Durham, or Mo Alou is questionable. Hillenbrand will return; Sabean will be reluctant to concede that a mistake was made in trading for him. Schmidt doesn’t believe the Giants will be willing to pay him the money he will be demanding as a free agent; he is probably correct in that belief.

What does this auger for the future? In the first place, what are the prospects for this year? Much of what happens in the remaining games rests on the shoulders of their two young pitchers, Cain and Lowry. This is one of few teams able to point to two young pitchers who provide as much hope for the future as Cain and Lowry do for the Giants. If they continue to fulfill such promise over the balance of 2006 it could help lead to a playoff spot. It would also provide much hope for a successful rebuilding of the team in the off-season.

They need Mo Alou to return healthy for the next thirty-one games. Bonds has recently looked a good deal more like the Bonds of 2004 than had been the case the earlier part of the season. He is running better, is not limping around in the outfield and is finally swinging at better pitches.

Schmidt must throw better than he has in the past few games but Morris, based on his last appearance, may provide far greater help than has been the case up to now. Benitez, who is the Giants closer, come hell or high water, must continue to throw 98 miles per hour to a spot remotely close to the plate. If all of the above occurs they may make it to the post season. What happens then is anyone’s guess, but what is certain is that it would be extremely rewarding to see Cain and Lowry in post-season appearances where they are throwing into the 8th inning as successfully as has been the case in their last few outings.

The Giants are going to be active in the off-season. They will have the money to wheel and deal in the free agency market. They will not be in a rebuilding mode. That is not the way the Giants operate. They will be looking to win it all now. Pitching is the key element in winning it all now. The Giants will have the basis for optimism if Cain, Lowry, and, the soon to be recalled, Sanchez pitch up to expectations. The free agent market could provide the needed position players.

In a season that could have been a bloody disaster, their present posture is not at all bad.



1 Anonymous { 08.29.06 at 1:02 am }

Ed – When you talk about the Giants, a club that I historically have been either indifferent or hostile to, I find myself almost lulled into a rooting for them kind of feeling, such is your passion and persuasiveness. I agree about Cain (see my column below yours) and Lowry. Yes, Sanchez, and Henessey (sp?) too. I don’t think there is another NL club that is in the same universe in terms of pitching (the Cubs would be with Zambrano, Prior and Wood, if it weren’t for their addiction to the DL). It sounds like you have a plan. Can you imagine if Nathan and Liriano were tacked on to it? Have you considered applying for the Sabean’s job? Rick

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