Giants/Marlins Series Preview

When I look at the Marlins roster, it just makes me irritated at the Padres. Seriously. The Marlins are the team that was supposed to have a keg of good young pitching on tap. The Marlins were supposed to have young, competent hitters all throughout the lineup. Then I look at their roster, and both things are still true. Fourth place and hovering around .500 for most of the season. The Padres have one guy with an on-base percentage above .330 in the starting lineup. Even accounting for Petco National Park, that’s hard to believe. First place, and they haven’t lost for 24 straight games. I don’t get it.

The Marlins make good, young, and cheap starting pitchers orc-style, pouring some sort of wizard-approved mud into a white-hot mold. After a few years, when the pitchers become sentient and ask for paychecks instead of bread crusts and lukewarm Crystal Light, the Marlins trade them for materials to make more mud pitchers. It’s a disturbingly beautiful circle of life. This year, though, with one glaring exception, the Marlins starting pitching has been sort of uninspiring. Ricky Nolasco has fantastic peripherals, but he also has a penchant for giving up dingers by the bushel. Chris Volstad has a ridiculously heavy sinker, but that’s not playing well with a hilarious Cantu/Ramirez/Uggla infield. Nate Robertson was waived after a promising start. They could have been a contender. Could have been somebody.

But this team isn’t to be trusted. It’s the kind of team that will stealthily start to win and win and win, and when the season ends, they’ll be something like four games back from the Wild Card. Well, gee, how did they get so close? Hanley Ramirez will go 44 for his last 43, Mike Stanton will turn on some sort of developmental switch and start homering every other game. The second baseman -- I can’t ever recall his name, and I just wish someone would remind me of it in a completely annoying fashion every so often -- will continue hitting home runs at just the right time.

And you know what? I’m hoping the Marlins do well. I’m hoping they scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot in the next couple of years. I hope they take the NL East by surprise and end up with home field advantage in the playoffs. I’ll be thrilled for them. And then, I’ll hope that the Giants play the Marlins in the playoffs. And I’ll hope that one of the games ends when Cameron Maybin’s throw from center field hits the pitching mound. And I’ll hope that the series ends when the slowest runner on the Marlins team comes careening around third base to take Buster Posey out, and I hope Buster Posey puts his shoulder right into the face of the teal-bedecked sloth, standing over him as he writhes in pain, with Posey saying, "I ain’t havin’ it. I ain’t havin’ it. Because Buster Posey, that’s why.

I have a dream.

Hitter to watch:

It will never be acceptable that the Giants didn’t draft Mike Stanton. The Giants had a compensatory draft pick for losing Mike Stanton, the reliever, to free agency. Right there for the taking was another guy named Mike Stanton. It wouldn’t have been an overdraft-- the younger Stanton was a consensus first- or second-round pick. The Giants, trying to save money they’d eventually spend on Jose Castillo, drafted Charlie Culberson. To his credit, Culberson is having a pretty nifty season in San Jose after stinking up the joint in his first two professional seasons, but there was cosmic alignment just staring the Giants in the face. Mike Stanton out, Mike Stanton in. Welcome the old boss, same as the new boss, with the exception of the old boss being a boring lefty reliever and the new boss being a teenaged demigod of power.

It’s hard to second-guess most draft selections after the fact. It’s just too much of a crapshoot. But, c’mon, Giants guy in charge of the draft. Have a sense of humor and/or destiny.

Pitcher to watch

Man, that Josh Johnson is okay. When people get disappointed that Matt Cain is only one of the better pitchers in the National League, the slacker, it’s because they expected him to turn into what Josh Johnson has become this year. Johnson is a year older than Cain, so keep the comparison alive and hold out hope that Cain will go into beast mode at some point. Until then, the Giants will have to figure out how to score against Johnson on Wednesday. It will be tough, but not impo...wait, he’s pitching against Cain? Oh, swell. Just mark the complete-game shutout in your scorebook right now. At least we know that Cain will pitch well and lower his ERA.

Prediction

Slight annoyance. Two games against the Marlins is a little boring. What did we do to deserve four? It beats watching the Padres again, I guess.

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