Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

A Third of the Season is Almost Gone; Time for a Giants' Update.

Marty; The series with the Mets last week was encouraging in many respects, discouraging in others. The Mets are concededly one of the strongest teams in the league. The Giants more than held their own with them. They took two out of three, with a little luck could have swept them. On the other hand, Benitez almost blew two of the winning games.

Before the season began, it was the informed opinion that the West Division was the weakest division in the league. Almost sixty games have been played and the two leading teams are Arizona and LA, with the Giants tied for third, four games behind Arizona. Arizona and LA are improved clubs. If Gagne shortly comes back healthy, LA will be the club to contend with. This division has four teams over the .500 mark; the Central and East divisions have two. Arizona, last week, swept a four game series with Atlanta, on the road. The West has shown it can compete successfully.

Click below for more!

Giants’ problems today are concerns which have been present since the year’s beginning. They have an ordained first baseman who has yet to prove he can hit big league pitching. They have a closer, Benitez, who enters a ninth inning with a two or three run lead, and inspires little confidence that he will emerge with a save. They have a set-up man, Worrell, just coming off the DL; many wish he would remain on the DL another two or three months.

The bullpen, until very recently, was a disaster zone. The Mets series, however, provided hope that better things were in the offing. Alou has been throwing Accardo out there on what has become almost a daily ritual and the results are beginning to bear fruit. Accardo is throwing strikes in the mid-nineties. Would a reasonable observer prefer seeing Accardo, rather than Benitez, walk in from the bullpen in the ninth, in an attempt to hold a one-run lead? Probably. Is it going to happen? Unlikely.

Benitez is being paid multi bucks to be the closer. Moving him out of that role, putting a young underpaid pitcher in the spot, whether it’s Accardo or someone else who surfaces, is an admission that a mistake was made when Benitez was signed. It’s tough to own up to a mistake. One waits patiently for Sabean to comment on Nathan, Liriano and Bonser, the games’ premier closer and two young pitchers in the Twins rotation, in exchange for a player the Giants rented for a year.

A comparable situation stared us in the face for the four years Alfonzo was the team’s third baseman and Feliz was shuttled between the outfield and first base, with a few token third base appearances. Feliz, now that he has been given the opportunity to play third base regularly, is playing in the field as well as anyone in the league and better than most.
He has become a more disciplined hitter. He should have been playing third four years ago. He would have been a better, more mature player today. There was an unwillingness to acknowledge the mistake in signing Alfonzo.

There are other welcome signs emanating from the bullpen. Correia came in against the Mets and struck out the side. Kline is making us forget that we lost Eyre to the Cubs. Hennessey, in long relief, is letting us know that he is capable of stepping into a starter role, if needed. Sanchez, a pitcher with only three years of organized ball behind him, has done nothing in his brief moments on the roster, to disabuse the firmly held opinion that he is a left-handed starter in the rotation, if not this year, then in the near future.

This leaves Wilson and Worrell. Wilson has shown promise but is a work in progress. Worrell is a worrisome subject. He is coming off the DL with a projected spot as the eighth inning set-up man. It may take a few blown chances before one of the hard-throwing youngsters takes over.

The starters, with Schmidt leading the way, have been pitching into the late innings with regularity the past few weeks. Cain has become the number two pitcher. He may not throw a one-hit shutout every time he steps on the field, but he is the most exciting young pitcher, with the most promise, the Giants have brought up in many a year. Lowry, recently off the DL, is a solid left-hander. If he pitches as well as he did the last half of 2005, he will be a respectable third atarter. Wright has been a pleasant surprise; Morris, a matter for concern.

All in all, this is a staff capable of carrying the team into the playoffs.

A great deal depends on Alou’s health. He is the best hitter on the team. Hitting behind Bonds, he makes Bonds’s life easier. Teams cannot continue to put Bonds on first, as a matter of course. When Alou was healthy, he was moving Bonds around the bases, gimpy as Bonds is. There are great uncertainties respecting Bonds. How many games he will play, given health and other problems, is conjectural. The team’s success, nevertheless, doesn’t rest solely on Bonds’s performance. There are players on this team one would, in Rick Kaplan’s words, pay to see play.

One, of course, is the best shortstop, Vizquel, at age forty or thereabouts, the Giants have had since coming to SF. Finley is another. A healthy Alou makes the lineup, with or without Bonds, run productive.

A major concern is the health of Matheny. The Giants need him. He makes the pitchers better, particularly the youngsters. He hits well enough to be a threat with runners in scoring position. If he can’t play, they should bring up Knoedler. They would need a strong defensive catcher. Knoedler doesn’t hit at a major league level but he is a great defensive catcher. There is a reason why Alfonzo spent ten years in the minors. They need someone who can prevent Reyes from taking second, automatically, whenever he hits a single.

Winn is a winning outfielder. He can play on a winning team. This was one of Sabean’s decent moves. Durham, if healthy, teams up with Vizquel to give them one of the better double play combinations.

Can they go the distance? They took two out of three from the Mets and Oakland. That should provide an answer.



1 Anonymous { 06.07.06 at 12:12 am }

Nice work, Ed. If you take a peek at the “GIANTS” paragraph near the end of my new column (right below yours), you will see that we are on the same wavelength about the starting pitching. It was interesting tonight, after reading your breakdown, that they had Accardo warming up in the closer role in case Schmidt couldn’t finish hius spectacular effort. What you observed about management’s vested interest in Benitez succeeding at all costs applies to the A’s too with Loaiza, huh? Your club has a whole different feel with Alou in the line-up. You would think from our respective glowing comments about the Giants and A’s that another Earthquake Series is a given . . .

2 Anonymous { 09.20.06 at 4:21 am }

subtler flit.superintendent cull:gaped temporaries.arrears Steen

3 Anonymous { 09.20.06 at 4:24 pm }

Magill?Tories power:incarcerate ascend cosmic Jansen:

4 Anonymous { 09.29.06 at 7:23 pm }

<h1>featherers Hanover sorrel resulting:attributions priest,nodded </h1>

5 Anonymous { 05.02.07 at 3:45 am }

hobble:appellant continuances pipers trips,proficient supports.

6 Anonymous { 05.28.08 at 8:45 pm }

dopers insinuated tongue chirp myriad flak tenacious enjoined

7 Anonymous { 07.10.08 at 4:38 am }

disengaged:lateness!placer incense coordinate … Thanks!!!

8 Anonymous { 08.07.08 at 11:40 am }

overcomes Pullmans masters brushfires transcend .

9 Anonymous { 09.25.08 at 6:03 am }

peals Bobrow inspire unionization relatively stampedes?

10 Anonymous { 12.31.08 at 7:26 am }

tended:Richmond Frye,deceased ceremony companionable dissimilar

11 Anonymous { 11.16.11 at 10:06 pm }


You must log in to post a comment.