Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Giants Wild Card Fight, Despite Pitching Shambles by Ed Stern

Marty; It has been frequently said that pitching is 90% of the game. If this truism is to be honored, why are the Giants in the middle of a struggle for the wild card slot in the playoffs? Was there ever a team, with a pitching staff in such disarray, with 39 games left to play, realistically competing for an October prize?

Click below for Ed’s story about the Giants.

Before attempting to answer those questions, rhetorical or not, an assessment of the rest of the club is in order. With the season rapidly drawing to a close, the Giants have apparently established a team of position players capable of winning games irrespective of the opposition. It took almost the entire season and the determined, skillful handling of what he was given to work with, before Alou was able to field a team, day after day, with players who were producing at a high level.

Snow, as has been mentioned here before, is having an astonishing year. He came off the DL shortly after the mid-year break. Nothing in his performance, over the previous half year or the preceding two or three years, warranted any belief that he would be capable of performing at a level, the remainder of the year, which would lead to anything other than his inevitable release at season’s end and a thank you for the years spent with the club.

Since mid-year, we have seen a player who has never performed better in his many years on the team. He is hitting .321 this morning. His OBA is .427. He is hitting with power, driving in runs. There isn’t a better fielding first baseman in the game.

The outfield has come into it’s own. One needn’t talk about Barry. He continues to dominate every game in which he plays. There has never been a player of his years whose performance has equaled his. In fact, it would be difficult to name a player, young or old, who has done what he has done these past three or four seasons. He isn’t quite the Golden Glove player he was when younger but he is a better hitter today than he was when he first came to the Giants.

Mohr and Tucker have developed into first-rate players. Each is hitting above .280 and approaching.300. Grissom is beginning to show his age but he still plays a decent center field and when he needs a rest he has Mohr waiting around for a chance to contribute. Cruz is hitting .300 and fielding acceptably. The team has released Perez and traded Rodriguez, two non-producers whose absence, in itself, is a positive factor.

Pierzynski is the player he was seen to be in the other league, hitting around .300, driving in his share of runs.

Perhaps the most intriguing development showed up in the box score this morning, after the double header against Montreal. It is notable that Feliz played both games at third base. There may have been a reason we are not aware of that Alfonzo didn’t play. For some time, however, it has been apparent to observers, that Alou was unhappy about the necessity to play Alfonzo solely as a result of his heavy multi year contract. With the season now on the line he wants Feliz bat in there. He may have bitten the bullet. We will soon find out. The team is better with Feliz playing. There obviously is no longer a place for Feliz on first.

This is the start of a pretty good ball club. Unfortunately, the characterization of a bunch of players as a “pretty good ball club” necessarily includes a consideration of their pitching.

In yesterday’s first game, the game went into the ninth inning with the Giants trailing by one run. After Montreal batted in the top of the ninth the Giants were trailing by four runs. Christiansen and Herges saw to that. This was exactly the miserable type of performance one anticipates when the game is on the line and the team goes to the bullpen. The bullpen is a mess. It has been a mess for the better part of this year. It shows little sign of getting better. It hopes that Hermanson will be an effective closer but the jury is still out on that. The only pitcher in that bullpen with an ERA under 4.00 is Brower and he is flirting with the 4.00 ERA. They don’t have a single outstanding pitcher. Look hard and it is unlikely that one can find anyone a reasonable person would call more than acceptable. Finding even an acceptable pitcher in the lot, keeping in mind the importance of the bullpen as the game is played these days, is a hard task.

As for the starting rotation, it is difficult to determine the players who constitute it. It changes from day to day. Schmidt is a great pitcher who sustained a groin injury the other day. It would not be unusual for him to miss three weeks. Three weeks is a major part of what remains of this year. The hope is that he will return after one week. This optimism is frequently misplaced. If Schmidt doesn’t come back shortly, forget about October.

The rest of the rotation, as best as one can figure from day to day, consists of a rookie pitcher, Lowry, who has pitched 41 innings this year; Frankln, who has been in the ‘pen all year, with an ERA of 5.36, who started his first game yesterday and did fairly well; Tomko, with a 4.90 ERA, who has won six and lost six; and the intrepid Rueter, with a 5.21 ERA and an inability to pitch more than five full innings. They sent Hennessey back to Fresno between games yesterday although he had given some promise of being effective enough to start on this team.

There is a sneaking suspicion they are looking to Foppert to be a saviour. He has been making rehab starts, now in Fresno, and it won’t be long before he is called up. When he is, one of those mentioned above will need to be removed from the rotation. Is it too absurd to hope that Rueter will be the choice? Probably; Woody is a big favorite in the clubhouse. Team morale enters into the picture. On the other hand, if Alou has taken the tough step of benching Alfonzo, perhaps another tough call might be made.

What are the answers to the questions asked above? How does one account for being in the wild card chase? Alou, Schmidt and Bonds, of course,… and don’t overlook Snow.

Has there ever been a team with the pitching talent described above fighting for an October date? I haven’t found one.


There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.