Monday, April 25, 2011

Lackluster hitting and pitching

If one was asked to sum up the reason for the Giant’s slow start this year in a phrase it would be lackluster, inconsistent hitting and pitching.  Let’s face it, they are not hitting the ball the way they should, and the pitchers are walking way too many people. They showed some life on the last road trip, but the short, three game home stand with Atlanta was abysmal. Nothing seemed to go right.  The hitters could not hit and the pitchers could not find their spots. This question looms large; was the phenomenal run to the World Series a fluke? I don’t think so. What is the possible problem?

Here is one possibility that has crossed my mind over the last few days. I think that the recent home stand demonstrates that they are trying too hard and thinking too much. Could it be that because of the tremendous fan turn out and support that the Giants are thinking too much about letting them down? They need to go back to being underappreciated and under rated. That seems to be the main drive that they have to achievement.

The only person that seems to be having fun right now is Pablo Sandoval. Oh, there are glimpses of their greatness; Buster Posey’s two run homer in yesterday’s game and how about Rowand’s clutch double in the bottom of the seventh inning?

It is just a matter of time until the hitting and the pitching come together… hope it is soon! Perhaps this ten game road trip back east will take some of the pressure off. I really do think it is the pressure. I know many say no, that they are a veteran team, and that pressure is not in the mix. I say hogwash. The truth is however that winning the World Series can bring a big amount of pressure to bear, especially on a group of guys who are not superstars per se and acclimated to the constant attention. The press that got Belt tied up in knots is affecting everyone to a degree. He is doing well back in triple A. Hopefully, the road trip back east will do the same for the rest of the Giants. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moving on to the third week; Giants Review

It is still way too early in the season to make any big conclusions about trends. Having admitted that, let me share some more observations. The celebrations are over… the rings have been handed out… the flag is flying in center field… we won the series with the Cardnials, we won the series with the Dodgers, we won the series with the D-Backs, and we won the first game with the Rockies. This is an excellent trend, and I am confident that it will continue.

First off, Lincecum’s and Sanchez’s wins against the rockies were stellar. The Giants’ bats are cracking in unison and runs are being scored. I still am a little concerned with the amount of talent they have. What I mean is the depth in the outfield. I wish that one of those good outfield hitters was shortstop, but I don’t always get what I want. I am really pulling for Belt and I like what I see, but as it turns out, I was right in the beginning, and he needs some more time in triple A. I am certain that he will be able to solve his batting challenges there and return to the giants for a very productive career.

Huff, Posey and Sandoval are on track to hit over 100 RBI’s each this year, and Sanchez, Burrell and Tejada are not far behind. I am really excited to see Aaron Rowand with such a hot bat and contributing to the scoring daily.

Here are some things that you can count on; Colorado will not continue at the .722 win percentage and the Giants will move closer to the .600 percentage mark. They have incredible offensive depth and great pitching… not to mention the fact that the Rockies have had a pretty easy schedule for the first part of their season. They have had seven of their games with the Mets and the Pirates… not a bastion of great pitching.

Cody Ross is back in the lineup and ready to go. I am still confident in my ninty-eight wins prediction, and we will see where we are at after 40 games

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Observations from yesterday’s loss to the Dodgers:

The Giants are not off to a great start is an understatement, but still it is early in the season and I expect a change in fortunes for them; Having said that, I would like to mention a couple of observations that jump to the surface.

Madison Bumgarner is a self-confessed hot head. He has said that things going wrong can affect his game. This is probably true of all pitchers, but I have a hunch that it is a much bigger issue with Madison. This is something that he has to get under control if he is to have success in the big leagues. It’s almost as if word has spread amongst the umpires and they are testing him purposely. No, I am not accusing Jerry Davis of purposefully calling against Bumgarner with prejudice but, I think that he may have been conscious of his normally generis strike zone and altered it a tad. Hopefully, Bumgarner will not continue to allow his emotions to rule his head. That would be a shame.

Practically the whole line-up of the Giants are not hitting for some reason. First there is the possibility that they have mentally given Kershaw too much power over them. If they think they can’t hit him then, they will definitely not hit him. However it is not Kershaw alone. The Giants only have two hitters above the .300 mark, and Posey and Huff are not hitting that well. Certainly, they are not getting clutch hits and run rallies.  The truth is that even with Torres and Ross hurt they should be doing more damage than they are. They have to find a way to manufacture at least four to five runs a game.

Belt has to find a way to quit grounding out to second and striking out. I am sure that the pressure is great in his mind, but still he needs to calm down and perform. If we can get Posey, Huff and Sanchez hitting like Sandoval they will be unstoppable.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The torture is not gone yet!

Friday afternoon was a beautiful day for baseball… a fitting setting for the opener of the World Champion Giants. The program and festivities were excellent and there’s a great looking new flag flying in right center field. ATT Park was packed and the new, crisp white uniforms gleamed in the bright sunlight.  Slowly over this weekend series the pomp and circumstance will be put to rest and the season will begin to flow onward.

So with that, I have some questions. Do the Giants have too much talent for their own good? Here’s what I mean… you never really know these days who’s going to be clutch hitting hot. They have Huff, Torres, Burrell, Ross, and Rowand and only three fields to fill. All are contribuiting at times. I must say, that when Sheirholtz, Torres and Rowand were in the outfield toward the end of the torturous grueling overtime stint I felt much more comfortable defensively. And, Rowand ended up being the hero.

Much of my career was in marketing and sales and the old “what have you done for me lately” was the rule. Will that serve the Giants well this season? Or, will it cause the players to be depressed and out of sorts? Is it good to have a squad that is always wary of their playing status? How long does one tolerate a slump? I think that if there are always people in the lineup hitting in clutch situations it goes a long ways toward insuring high scoring games.

What a game though… it was cruising along toward a three to two finish and all of the sudden wham… it transformed into a tortuous nightmare. All I can say for the opening day was thank God that Aaron Rowand was still on the team! It will be fun to watch… never a dull moment but, will my hat survive all the slamming?

I think that over the season all of these questions will work themselves out, and I really do believe that we are better off with too much talent than not enough. At least if feels like I can settle in and allow the season to run its natural course. I am still hopeful and believe that maybe the season will not be quite as torturous as last year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A time for patience not worry

Well, I too am not happy with the results of the opening series in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine a Giants fan that would be. However, at the risk of repeating tired cliché’s the season is not a sprint it is a marathon. I suppose that talk radio has to promote criticism to be considered interesting but, for me, too many fans are being way too critical. I still believe that when we get twenty to thirty games accomplished that the Giants will win six out of every ten. Six hundred ball is something that I am expecting from them this year. I also am confident that they will lead the western division and go into the playoffs.

I was wrong in my last post about Belt. He is definitely ready for prime time and, will be an excellent contributor this season both in the field and at the plate. One of the reasons for his low batting average this far is his great eye.  After all, his on base percentage is .353 and, he has contributed to the runs scored both by scoring and with RBI’s. I look for him to raise his batting average significantly but still, his good eye will make his average lower than it could be if he swung indiscriminately but, his on base record will be great and, RBI’s, home runs and, runs scored will be above average. His defense will be outstanding.

The defense and pitching will improve. It has not received much mention but, in reality the pitching was sub-par for all the games except for Matt Cain’s outing. I realize that it is the beginning of the season and skills and endurance are still being developed and honed. I would say that the pitching was equally culpable with the defensive mistakes. In fact, unlike other commentators, I would say that they could have won in spite of the defensive blunders if the pitching had been a little better. Again, let me point to Matt Cain’s effort.

It seems that the pressure of being defending world champs has played a large psychological role in the early games. Hopefully, they will recover from anxious nerves very soon and, settle in to be the Giants we saw last year.

Here are some things on my wish list:
  • Miguel Tejada, Pablo Sandoval and Andres Torres should swing a little less.
  • Brandon Belt should swing just a little more.
  • Burrell should spend a little more time on spray hitting and swing for the fence only on really good pitches
  • Freddie Sanchez; stay the way you are right now!
  • Aubrey Huff; don’t let the haters get to you.
  • Everyone; concentrate on the fundamentals.

All in all, it is going to be a great season!