Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Time to get in Position for the Stretch Run

As the manuvering continues today in the trading market, the idea remains to get players who can make a difference over the last four weeks of the season.

September is precisely the time when the pennants are won or lost.

Will Cliff Floyd be enough to counter the Yankees, who are hitting homers and scoring runs at a record pace?

Will Scott Rolen be the glue in the Cardinals line up to bring the Central home?

Now that August and the Dog Days are just around the corner let’s look at the possibilities.The A’s added Ray Durham to a line up that is screaming for a legitimate bat. Unless Eric Chavez, Terrence Long, and the regulars on the A’s hit with some authority, Ray Durham’s bat is hardly the answer.

Right now the A’s are in one of those typical two week slumps that makes everyone question how good they really are.

The A’s defense has been a problem all year. It’s not the errors, it’s the balls they don’t get to or misplay without showing up in the box score.

When your team is built on pitching, you better catch the ball. Neither Cory Lidle nor Tim Hudson has shown the ability to make the big pitch to get out of trouble, when the defense adds base runners, disaster follows.

The Detroit series becomes more critical because a sweep of the Tigers while the Angels play the Yankees four times, can help the A’s close the gap in the race.

As long as the A’s enter September within four to five games of the lead in the West or better, they will have an excellent chance because the starting pitching is capable of winning 22 of 30 games when it counts.

One more reliable righthander in the pen would be invaluable. Jim Mecir’s performance has been inconsistent for three months. Chad Bradford has been terrific, but may need help. Jeff Tam has been untrustworthy for a season and a half. Tam came in last night with the bases loaded and promptly gave up a two run single which ultimately sealed the A’s loss. Then Tam retired the side for a couple of innings. Big deal.

Seattle is looking for a reliable starting pitcher. How about Kenny Rogers? They just may be desperate enough to take the Tin Man ( no heart). John Olerud has carried their offense for the summer, no knock on Olerud, but that is why they have had trouble scoring in bunches like last year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seattle add a pitcher today, but sink or swim with the line up they have for the rest of the season.

Who would you replace in the Seattle order? The players they have are just having off years and GM Pat Gillick isn’t going to replace them in midseason.

I still say that Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling need to win 50 games between them to ensure Arizona’s retrun to the playoffs. Unless, the Dodgers and Giants rebound over the next two weeks, they will have trouble overcoming the Diamondbacks in September. Injuries continue to play a big part in the West.

St. Louis is still in the Mike Hampton mix. Hampton’s contract is so large that the lefty will be available in a post July 31st waiver claim because no team will want to assume his contract and dare claim him. So, the Cards will wait and see if they need him.

The Astros are getting healthy at the right time. Dave Mlicki and Carlos Hernandez will help over the next 55 games. This race will be a good one in September.

Whoever plays the best in September will win, that is why I can’t get too high or low with a team’s ten game stretch in July or early August.

Just stay close baby and watch out over the last 30 games.

September is where the stories of baseball are written.

The Yankees are pounding the ball. They have four MVP candidates: Giambi, Jeter, Williams and Soriano.

The Red Sox need to have Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez and John Burkett healthy for the September run. Kelvim Escobar would look awfully good in their pen right now. Both the Yankees and the Boston bull pens make things very interesting when the teams have late inning leads. I would say that the Boston pen will have much to do with their chances of getting into the postseason, more than even the bat of Cliff Floyd.

When the merry go round of moving players stops, see who has put together the best team for the September run.

There is no other sport with the drama of the stretch run like there is in baseball. When the teams head for home, that last run to the wire, clutch players stand up, pitchers for the ages emerge, just be close to the lead and then the big boys start playin’ hard ball.

So, don’t despair over some losses in July or August, just be within a few breaths of the lead going into the last month and you’ll enjoy the finish.

It happens every year.


1 Anonymous { 08.01.02 at 1:34 pm }

Glad to have you back, Marty. I hope you enjoyed Cooperstown. (How could you not?)

I agree with your comments on the defense. Watching Terence Long misplay balls in center is becoming painful. I remember noticing how easily Damon seemed to play center last year, but it became even more obvious when Terence moved back to center this year that he is not very good out there. In fact, I’m not sure if it is just me, but he seems to play worse in center field now than he did before Damon’s arrival in the first place.

How is Eric Byrnes outfield defense? We have not seen him play a whole lot, and he’s made a couple of horrible misreads in right and left (both of which his speed turned into spectacular catches, but which should have been routine). If he would be a defensive improvement, it would seem unlikely that his offense would be a step down from Terence Long’s terrible year. What do you think of giving him some time in center?

Steve B.

2 marty { 08.01.02 at 5:12 pm }

I don’t think Byrnes is skilled enough to play center field on a full time basis. Good point, Long’s defense seems worse this year than in his rookie year. I would not be surprised to see Long traded this winter.

Thanks for the comment Steve.


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