Giants/Diamondbacks Series Preview

This amazing picture was in my photo feed, and it captured the natural phenomenon that is erasing all of the Giants' hitters. Don't worry, though: the team sent Will Clark back in time to the "Under the Sea" dance to see what's up. We won't remember a thing.

The last time the Giants played the Diamondbacks, it was May, and the D-backs were sort of hanging around, smelling the top of the division with their tongues. So the preview was a cheeky-but-earnest look on whether the Diamondbacks could contend. They really were awful last year, so it’s not a slight to wonder that in May.

A month later, here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Ian Kennedy is still good
  • Daniel Hudson is still good.
  • Justin Upton is still good
  • Stephen Drew is still ... well, you get the point

The Diamondbacks have only one regular with an OPS+ below 100, Kelly Johnson, and he’s been his old self over the past month. The Giants have exactly two players who would start for the Diamondbacks right now: Pablo Sandoval and Andres Torres, and it’s not like those are complete slam dunks, either. Without Posey, Belt, a functional Huff, or Freddy Sanchez, the Diamondbacks are the ‘27 Yankees to the Giants’, uh, ‘09 Giants.

So there might be the urge to look at this as a see-if-they’re-real kind of test, or some other talking-points nonsense. No, I’m pretty sure the Diamondbacks are a good team, and they’ll be around for a bit. They aren’t the ones with a sketchy run differential and Eli Whiteside in the lineup.

That isn’t to say that I’m giving up. Ha. The Giants are still in first place, and if there’s a moral to the story, it’s that some of us watched the 1997 Giants do unspeakable things to a Dodgers team that was clearly more talented. You might note that the ‘97 Giants had Barry Bonds, while the ‘11 have eight guys who hit more like Bobby Bonds Jr., but that gap is made up by the pitching. That wasn’t a team you studied, it was a team you watched. As in, while the plane was in the air, you didn’t want to see what was really going on. Bunch of propellers held together with rubber bands and Laffy Taffy, really. The plane was still in the air. Read your damn SkyMall and we’ll figure out what needs to be done when we land.

That’s where we are with the ‘11 Giants, and it’s hard for me to do because I have to write about them every day. But we aren’t going on the 60-day apathy list; we just need to go day-to-day with our baseball. At least, I do. I’m not going to worry so much about Bill Hall’s OPS in 2010 vs. his OPS in 2011 -- I’ll just cheer or bemoan his approach in an at-bat tonight.

Because looking under the hood isn’t going to make you feel good. Miguel Tejada is the plumber’s tape, Manny Burriss is the chewing gum, Aaron Rowand is the wire hanger, and Eli Whiteside is a squeaky chew toy that your dog somehow got stuck in the fan belt. Just hope that the car can get you to the next service station.

Also, the Diamondbacks built a pretty nice team as we were glaring at the Rockies. That’s kind of annoying.

Hitter to watch

Say, I wonder if Melvin Mora could play shortstop ...

Pitcher to watch

If there’s a story that’s just as surprising as that of Ryan Vogelsong, it’s Josh Collmenter. Not as surprising on a point-by-point basis -- Vogelsong has the whole prodigal son thing going -- but on a where’d-this-control come from level. Collmenter last year in AAA: 4.1 walks per nine innings. Collmenter in the majors this year: 1.3 walks per nine innings.

Pitching coach: Did you ever think about not throwing with your eyes closed?

Collmenter: Not throwing with my eyes closed, eh? I guess there’s a time to try everything once.

I’m sure the Giants will be patient and wait him out, though.

And it still annoys me that the White Sox gave up Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson. Sure, White Sox. Take Juan Pierre off the Dodgers’ hands. Give out free Daniel Hudsons. Shuffle Clayton Richard’s grin over here to be the coal in the steam engine of our nightmares, and make sure you take the $500M that Jake Peavy is still owed. Fine work.

Also, the prospect that came over in Jackson trade is currently in A-ball for the Diamondbacks, and he’s 19 with a K/BB of 64/13 in 69 innings with a 2.87 ERA. I’m sure he won’t come up and terrorize the Giants in four years. Not at all.

Prediction:

Stupid White Sox.

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