Hmm. 1-3. Not the best start, but hardly time to panic considering that A) the Dodgers lineup looks weak and their bullpen is a smoldering tire fire, B) the Giants were clearly missing their RF, C) the starting 2011 starting rotation looks eerily similar to the 2010 starting rotation, D) Bochy was conducting some experiments with his bullpen and last but definitely most important, E) TGWTWS.
A closer look after the jump...
Alright, let's get this out of the way: Yes, Brandon Belt looks pretty decent. Obviously 17 plate appearances is way too small to determine anything, but the kid has some pop and a much better eye at the plate than most of our hitters. He can pick it at first, which helps, and I'm optimistic enough to think he won't be hitting .154 over say, a 100 at bats. Still, that being said, a 738 OPS isn't THAT great and it would need to be closer to 900 to justify Huff being in RF (the team has four guys who can play RF, three with Ross out and Huff isn't one of them). I think I'd rather have Schierholtz in RF or Rowand in center and Torres in right. So the decision should be Huff in LF and Belt at 1B or Burrell in LF and Huff at 1B. Huff's defense in RF is just too poor to justify having the so-called "eight best hitters" in the lineup.
As for the rest of the fellas, Bochy may be telling Sandoval and Torres that he's not going to platoon them now, but I suspect that won't last too long if they keep flailing away from the right side the way they have been. There are too many decent alternatives from the right side to put up with that for too long, right?
Obviously we were all pretty disgusted by the first pitch hack that Tejada had after Belt worked the walk Sunday night, and it led me to rethink about a subject I've been curious about for a few years now with the Giants. Is it one of baseball's "unwritten rules" that a manager can't give veteran hitters the take sign with men on base? It seems to me if a guy walks two straight guys, the next hitter should be ordered to take 0-0, 1-0 and maybe even 2-0. But I never hear Kruk and Kuip discuss it. It's okay to give pitchers take signs but not hitters? Would that be too insulting?
I know veterans like Tejada SHOULD know to take in that situation, but they obviously don't. A pitcher could walk three straight batters on 12 pitches and I wouldn't bet on Tejada taking a pitch, and the same goes for Panda, Rowand or Torres (and Uribe and Molina before them). Is it against Bochy's own philosophy to not have his hitters being aggressive? Is it the organization's? Do other managers treat their veterans differently? Can I type a sentence that doesn't end in a question mark?
I think the most interesting development of the weekend was that Bochy threw games on Friday and Sunday.
Well, he didn't lose on purpose. But I think he's too good of a manager to thrust Mota and Runzler into critical tie-game 6th/7th inning situations without there being a higher, broader purpose behind it.
I hope no one believes the Baggs malarkey about Runzler "throwing the best of anyone in their bullpen right now." Please. Even at his peak Runzler will never be more than the fifth or sixth arm out of a major league bullpen. He's the guy you bring in either when the starter gets shelled early or it's the 14th inning, you're out of pitchers and you frankly don't give a shit anymore if you win or not, you just want the game to come to a merciful end. Mota is pretty much the same thing.
I think these guys made the team by virtue of their solid springs, but that ultimately Sabes and Bochy are highly skeptical of both. I don't think it's a coincidence at all they were placed in high-pressure situations. Bochy is giving them the rope to hang themselves with. "Oh, you think you're good enough to be on the roster of the team TWTWS? Prove it, jerk."
I'm not suggesting Bochy or Sabean wanted either guy to fail the way they did, but I doubt either lost any sleep over it and the results will only rationalize and justify the decisions they have to make and really have thought about making all along.
All this debate about whether Rowand or Nate need to be DFA and to me the answer should be neither. I don't understand why any NL team would want to have less than six hitters on the bench with all the double-switch and pinch hitter variables in play and especially a club like the Giants where the starting staff is so strong that the likelihood of excessive bullpen innings isn't as high. I can buy the argument for a five man bench in the AL, but in the NL you need all the available bats you can get.
Besides, the Giants have all those day games after night games, so you know their veteran position players will need to rest and they don't have that many great hitters on the team that Boch can't afford to not play the guy who's hot and sit the guy who's not. No, a six man bullpen is perfectly fine indeed and I think that's the answer. If Bochy is being truthful about keeping the best 25 guys on the team, he'll realize that means saying so long to Mota and demoting Runzler.