San Francisco Giants
Ah those pesky Giants are at it again. Manager Bruce has steered the ship through rocky waters, from Brian Wilson going under the knife, Tim Lincecum going haywire, to the Dodgers getting off to an unreal start. Depsite all that the Giants find themselves atop the NL West, and it’s all thanks to Bochy. Sure, you could point out Matt Cain’s perfect game, or the suprising offensive output of Melky Cabrera (3.9 WAR) as catalysts of the team’s success, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The Giants pitching has been as expected, with a team ERA of 3.47. Everyone has been witness to Cain’s dominance, but Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong have been just as important to the staff. The one cog in the machine that isn’t working properly is Lincecum. The wiry former Cy-Young winner can’t find the plate at a consistent level, dumfounding experts and fans (even Barry Zito is having a better year!) If little Timmy can turn it around the Giants will really be a force to be reckoned with. One this is certain, Bruce Bochy will be cool calm and collected all the way to October.
When we last met: Yes, the Phillies and Giants have played this season already, way back in April. While most of the month was a fog of disappointment the rubber match stood out. The extra inning loss was notable for one reason; Cliff Lee pitched 10 innings of shutout baseball! It was remarkable to watch, and even more incredible that Charlie didn’t panic and yank him after 9. However, the Giants waited out Lee’s gem until Antonio Bastardo entered and won in the 11th. I challenge any Phillies fan to find a single game that’s more emblematic of this wretched 2012 season.
Series predictions: 1) Chooch outplays Buster Posey in every way, but still won’t get the national respect that he deserves. Where’s the love?
2) Saturday’s Hamels v. Cain matchup lives up to the hype and more. Cain goes 10 innings this time, only to have the Phillies win in 11!
3) Zito and Blanton reminisce about the good ol’ days in Oakland…until they remember they had to pay for the vending machine.
Fansided Perspective: Around the Foghorn editor Bryan Rosa explains why the Giants are just that good.
Not a lot has gone right for the Brew Crew this year. Their off-season was a precursor to the misery their fan-base has been subjected to. Fans were forced to watch Prince Fielder leave for big dollars, and then had to suffer through the “did he or didn’t he” Ryan Braun PED scandal. Braun wasn’t suspended, and is having another stellar year. The problem is he’s the only one. The team wasn’t able to replace Fielder in the middle of the order, and can’t find any semblance of consistency on the mound. Zach Greinke has been dominant, but is likely on his way out, with his contract expiring at the end of the year. Your heart goes out to the small market team that can’t just throw away money like the Phillies or Yankees, but then again that doesn’t always work out either.
Player to Watch: SP Zach Greinke.
Greinke hasn’t been able to replicate his Cy Young award season of 2009, but he has still been very good. He is the most likely starting pitcher to be dealt before the deadline, so plenty of scouts will be watching him until July 31st. His 115 ERA+ is solid, and he continues to rack up the strikeouts (9.1 per/9). The one asterisk surrounding the young righty is his anxiety disorder that precludes big market teams from really going after him. I understand that the pressure is increased playing for New York or Philadelphia, but is their really a difference pitching in front of 20,000 people vs. 40,000? C’mon Zach.
Most hated Brewer: CL John Axford’s mustache.
I don’t know if Axford’s hair style choice is just a redneck thing, or an ironic hipster mustache better suited for Williamsburg. The “Fear the Beard” campaign in SF was bad enough, but this wild unshaved closer epidemic has to go. My solution: place statistical qualifications on grooming. If you have an ERA above 5.00 with 6 losses you don’t qualify to cut your own hair.
Fansided perspective: Reviewing the Brew editor Colin Bennet hopped off Bernie the Brewer’s slide and answered all my Brewers conundrums.
Taking two from the Pirates, and then two from the Cardinals gave us a little momentum in the division, and including these first two series we have won four of the last five season series. It isn’t as sexy as racing back from the middle of the pack, but it’s the kind of momentum that might be able to secure Greinke for the rest of the season. I think he’s far too valuable to give up for prospects, and if you’re just going to trade him for another top-tier pitcher – why waste the time? I think he stays and the Brewers look elsewhere for trade deals.