It is August 14, 2012. I am satisfied with the Giants' lineup.
This is part confessional, part support-group moment. It comes after a game in which they scored two runs, so the timing is a little weird. But Pablo Sandoval is coming back to the lineup today. The specter of a permanently platooning Brett Pill is gone. Ryan Theriot is slumping with the bat and glove just as Marco Scutaro is showing off. I'd break the lineup into the following categories:
"Here is a virgin for your volcano, sir"
Very, Very Good
Brandon Belt (this version)
And Crawford's even growing on me, creeping toward a .300 OBP. He's still at the back-end of qualifying shortstops, but he's having the same kind of season as some of the shortstops I would have traded the farm for before the season -- Yunel Escobar, J.J. Hardy, and Alexei Ramirez, to name three.
I'd expect Cabrera to get sucked in by the gravity of Quite Alright a little before the end of the season, but I'd also expect Hunter Pence to be something of a shared electron between quite alright and very good.
But the larger point stands: I'm okay with this lineup. They aren't the 1999 Indians. Compared to this lineup from earlier in the season, though, they're pretty close. Think about the different permutations that would shake out because of injuries and slumps. Culberson. Pill. Huff. Arias. Gillaspie. Theriot. Burriss. Huff. And occasionally, all of them would be thrown into the same crock pot. It was easy to fall back into that 2008 self-pitying mode.
The Giants are tied for the fourth-best OBP in the National League already, and they're second in OPS+. They've been doing it without what I'd consider their optimum lineup. Most of those numbers were put up without Scutaro, Pence, and a healthy Pablo.
One oof. That's it. One oof in the entire lineup. Just imagine ...
The worry: Bruce Bochy will get too cute when someone starts slumping. When Scutaro or Belt string together a couple of 0-for-5s, I'm worried about Theriot taking back over, Hector Sanchez pushing Posey to first, or Sandoval sliding over to first to get at-bats for Joaquin Arias. The Giants had something like this in 2010, too, and all they had to do was play Buster Posey and Cody Ross to get it. It took a trade and a neck injury for the Giants to get their best team on the field.
The other worry: The players themselves will screw this up. B***** B*** could start slumping at the plate, with the shoulders. Scutaro could slow down, which would leave Theriot as the benefactor of some ride-the-hot-hand nonsense.
Overall, though ... I'm satisfied. You should be too. It feels like this happened quickly, but these roads have been converging for a while. It took Sandoval getting healthy to see it.
I see you shaking your head, pissed that I'm jinxing the team before starts against Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg. Yeah, this post, that's what'll do it. Way to hack the data stream of life. You've figured this whole thing out.
It's been just under two years since I've felt like this about a Giants lineup. It's weird. I walk around the house, complaining about random things just so the complaining doesn't build up. "Stupid Cheez-Its. Stop getting that fake cheese on my fingers! I'm typing here!"
Now let's all sit back and wait for the first Theriot/Arias combo lineup with Pablo at first and Posey resting, because that's when this post will look really stupid.