A 4-3 road trip and a split against a team they have a tough time beating. The Giants did well for themselves, but very little to distinguish themselves as something better than a .500 team. But when you have Matt Cain to root for I guess none of that matters in May. In fact, the early story of this game was how the most beloved Giants were really in control of the outcome. Matt Cain Matt Cained the Marlins through the first four innings, Buster Posey manifest destiny'd them, too, and Melky Cabrera, well...
I've written about Melky Cabrera's importance to the Giants before, but that was without two months of stats to back up the analysis. He's doing great things for this team and has been easily their most consistent player. It would be great if I could talk about his performance from a quantitative perspective or even in .gif form, but instead I will just say that a dude with a chinstrap beard, the upper body of a coat hanger, and the whip swing of Indiana Jones has been a wonderful distraction from the .500-ness of this team.
He had four hits today, and they were all well-struck. The line drive home run in the first will certainly get the most attention, but I liked the way he yanked the pitch away during his third PA for a hit. Even his stolen base was entertaining. Not many people can say they got to taste Omar Infante's glove.
So even as someone who threw stuff when the Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera trade was announced (because I felt very strongly that the Giants should've been targeting a shortstop all along!) I'm glad the trade has worked out so well for the Giants. It was always a risky proposition to bank on a catcher and an unproven first baseman to be able to carry the offense at times when the de facto slugging superstar third baseman struggled, and so if nothing else, Melky Cabrera is the main reason they're not a sub-.500 team.
You know, besides the pitching.
Let's play some word association...
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Angel Pagan can hit a little and seems to have a sharp personality, but his ability to field is suspect. I would like to arrest it Law & Order style -- in the middle of the day while it's at work -- and then get Pembleton in the box with it. There's a coyness to it. It doesn't seem bad at first, but the more you break it down, the more you demand of it, the more its story doesn't add up. Pagan has the speed and athleticism, that much is clear, but maybe he's got a vision and concentration problem that negate those abilities most of the time. The ball he didn't field that allowed Peterson to move up to 2nd in the seventh inning was pretty clear the result of concentration. The knuckled fly ball by Giancarlo Stanton that allowed runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd is probably one I shouldn't hold against Pagan, but since I don't trust his defense, it's not so easy for me to give him a pass there.
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I'd like to see Aubrey Huff retire because then we could all know for sure that he's "done." There's no way to know how much of his... ineffectiveness... is tied to his personal problems, to his age, or just the normal decline of corner bats. Or even if this is just part of his feast or famine career output.
I can't help but think that there's no chance he will retire because it would mean foregoing the rest of his contract including next year's buyout. That's a lot of money to leave on the table.
I can't help but think that there's no chance the Giants will cut him because it would mean three high profile veteran releases in less than a year and an admission of Huff's problems. For a team that says every slump and injury is days away from disappearing, creating such finality is probably not something they want to do. It's hard to get back together when people get shoved out.
Yet Bruce Bochy pulled Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the sixth after he appeared to not run out a ground ball (which was bobbled). His first at bat was a "three-pitch see ya!" and in between he had a 3-6-1 double play. I've used this forum many times to describe Huff and his bat as "dead", "dying", "inert". The Giants insist he's "struggling". I think at this point it's for the best that he just be "done". Mind you, I'm not advocating all Belt all the time or even Pill as a cure-all, just not Huff. Ever again.
There have been worse players (on the Giants, even!) to hang on and play well past their expiration dates, there have been better players who walked away when they weren't that bad. He's been in a steady, then dramatic, now complete decline since last season. Again, even without knowing the cause for his struggles, Aubrey Huff is taking up a roster spot when he should not be.
This game was a win, and a good one, but if there's a baseball player who can be his team's soothing balm it's Matt Cain. That doesn't mean they're not hurting.