Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Stop dreaming about this year! by Ed Stern

Marty; It is past time to stop dreaming about the chances of the Giants competing in the playoffs. They aren’t going to sweep their next twenty or so games and that is what it would take. Is there any hope for next year?

It is too early to contemplate with any reasonable degree of certainty what 2006 will look like. However, it is not too early to examine the evident weaknesses of this team and the steps needed to turn it back into an interesting club. It doesn’t take one with a graduate degree in some sort of analysis to talk about this year’s failings.

Click below for more of Ed’s realistic analysis of the Giants.
First, where does Bonds fit into the picture? We don’t know and we don’t know if anyone, including Bonds and his hidden away medical staff, knows. Assuming that Bonds returns in 2006 healthy and in condition to play 140 games, the outfield probabilities have Winn playing in center field, Bonds in left and Alou in right. Backups are Linden and Tucker. Keep in mind, that all of this is said in complete ignorance of anything Sabean may be doing in the off-season.

Linden is beginning to show signs of being able to play at a major league level somewhat comparable to his performance this year in Fresno, even though matching the Fresno numbers is very likely too much to hope for. Winn has done everything the team hoped for in his short appearance as a Giant. With a good supporting cast, he can fit into a winning team. Alou is having as good a year as he had with the Cubs last year. He probably has another year left.

If Bonds is unavailable or incapable of playing at a National League level, Linden has to come through or Sabean has to find another outfielder.

In the infield, the Giants have apparently bitten the Alfonzo bullet and decided to give the third base job to Feliz. Alfonzo sits on the bench, enjoys his eight million dollar annual wage, and the Giants hope that sometime in the next year someone will feel the need for a third baseman with the limited Alfonzo skills and make the Giants an offer. That is probably what Sabean dreams of at night.

First base remains a problem. Niekro has yet to inspire confidence that he can hit major league pitching, whether it be thrown up there by a left handed pitcher or one throwing from the right. If the team can fill all of the other uncertain spots, they may be willing to go along with Snow, who still plays first with as much or more skill than anyone else, hits .270 without power, and has a decent on base average due to his patience at bat and knowledge of the strike zone.

Vizquel may have another year left in him. If so, they will have a shortstop who will play the field with grace and who could continue to be a positive force on a winning team. His play this year provides good reason for not looking around for a replacement. He is still a gold glove player, a true professional, and a major asset.

Durham must stay healthy. If healthy, they need look no further. Durham hits well enough to play second on a team with playoff aspirations, he is a good athlete and, while there are occasional fielding lapses, there are also occasional brilliant plays to achieve a balance.

Matheny is a solid catcher. He hits only.250 but it is a productive .250 since he hits well over .300 with runners in scoring position. Defensively, there isn’t a better catcher around and all the experts, including those he plays with and against, concede he handles pitchers better than any other catcher. It comes as no surprise that, within the past few months, when a poll was taken of active players, with respect to whom among active players would make the best manager, Matheny was the overwhelming choice.

This leaves, for consideration, the pitching. The bullpen, with a healthy Benitez, is strong enough with Eyre, Hawkins, Munter, Walker and a few others Sabean can come up with. Christiansen is undoubtedly gone. His remarks about the manager’s handling of his pitchers has doomed any thoughts of his retention.
The rotation is a far different story, and the extent of the team’s success undoubtedly rests in their ability to come up with three starting pitchers, not a simple task.

At the moment, they have two worthwhile starters, Schmidt and Lowry. Correia and Hennessey are works in progress. It would be foolhardy to predict whether either one will ultimately be capable of bearing the responsibilty of pitching every fifth day and turning in, consistently, winning efforts. Each has pitched well enough, on occasion, to provide encouragement that consistent strong efforts, pitching into late innings, is not beyond hope. They are, however, far from that level of consistentcy today.

Lowry is one of the few bright moments in this largely disastrous season. His last four outings have produced unmatched results. He now has four pitches. In addition to his fastball and change up, he has added a vicious curve and a slider. He has become a pitcher who is consistently difficult for even good hitters to hit. Schmidt has had an uneven year but has shown enough to lend support to the conclusion that he is still one of the best pitchers in the league. Where the three starters are coming from is unknown. It may be the ultimate measure of Sabean’s success as a GM.

In this respect, it may be noteworthy to consider the latest outing by Jeffrey Williams on behalf of the Cubs. He threw seven and two-thirds innings, gave up three hits, one walk, and one run. This is the type of effort we expected from Williams until he ran afoul of the better baseball minds who make these decisions for the Giants. The trade of Williams for Hawkins may join the brainstorms which dumped Joe Nathan, perhaps the most eminent closer in the game today, in exchange for an unneeded catcher no longer with the team. It is to be hoped that this isn’t Sabean’s legacy.

It isn’t much fun writing about a team which is fifteen games under five hundred at this stage of the season, a team which, if they are fortunate, will not end up even further behind when all the results are in. Thinking about next year’s possibilities is the only comfort remaining.



1 Anonymous { 08.28.05 at 12:55 am }


The Bonds situation is the cornerstone of the Giants’ planning, the team is in an unusual situation. Let’s assume his year off will defuse the steroid / tax situation, let’s assume that this is a baseball only decision. Do the Giants go the A’s route and send him away, or do they hang on to the image of the HR run and keep him to sell tickets?

I think the Angels would be a great fit — the Giants may have to take back some big salaried vets, but they could get a least some prospects in a return package — the main thing would be the resolution, the fresh start –Do you remember the defining Sabean deal, Matt Williams to Cleveland for 5 players, including starters Kent, Vizcaino, Taveras. etc, how this deal made ffor a clearly new team identity? — a similar deal for Bonds to the Angels would be a solid way to go.

Bonds apparently lives in SoCal, is comfortable there, could DH ( like Ortiz) — and get a fresh personal start of his own — and the huge media blitz in the LA market over his HR campaign would surely silence any media probes into his Balco affiliations or marital situations — he could probably put the Angels into the World Series and win it, he would be huge in LA forever, in fact Bonds and Guerrero together would probably move the Angels past the Dodgers as the defining SoCal franchise.

One 2005 aspect to recall— apparently the SF Giants are near the lead of the entire major leagues in aggregate W/L percentage of the whole minor league system — this means there has to some real talent in the loop on the way

keep the faith

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