And then the thought hit me in the middle of the night: What if the hitting and pitching is abysmal? Not worrisome, or troubling, but batten down the hatches, thar she blows bad? When anticipating the season, we all had our private stash of optimism. Sure, it was cut with a handful of concerns. Maybe the lineup' advanced age will lead to injury problems. The rotation went into April relying on a couple of hopes to rebound, a rookie, and a retread. The bullpen was going to be comprised of youngsters, all still mostly unproven.
But everything's going wrong, at least in the past few games, and I think I have the fear. The Giants are in first place, and that is certainly cause for celebration. It seems a little defeatist to dwell on what is going wrong. Still, it isn't hard to start nitpicking. The lineup is filled with hitters who can't get out of their own way. Matt Morris has looked good more often than not, and Jamey Wright has been outstanding, but the rest of the regular staff has struggled. If you left the bullpen on a city sidewalk, you'd be fined.
In the grand and hypercritical fashion you're only likely to find from a Giants fan, allow me to present the Worry Power Rankings. These rankings reflect my confidence in each player to snap out of whatever funk they're in. For example, Randy Winn's slow start wouldn't have really made a blip on the rankings. I still can't believe the silly Mariners held on to Ichiro instead of Randy Ballgame, future Hall-of-Famer. The Worry Power Rankings:
10. Barry Bonds
Repeating "he'll be fine, he'll be fine, he'll be fine" until hoarse might be useless, but it sure is therapeutic. I'm mostly convinced he'll be fine, but only as convinced as you can be with a 40+ player with serious health concerns.
As an aside, all of the attention focusing on Bonds' performance-enhancing drug use is an example of media hypocrisy. I did a Lexis-Nexis search for the terms "Ken Griffey, Jr." and "abusing brain and nerve tonic", but failed to find one article detailing the documented history of abuse.
9. Ray Durham
He's been dreadful, but has too much of an offensive track record to panic.
8. Jack Taschner
What comes up, must come down, and Taschner's breakout season of 2005 seems like a distant memory. He's still buckling lefties with his breaking stuff, however, and he has been a little better lately. Eleven hits allowed in two-plus innings will make you wonder, though.
7. Matt Cain
It's hard to worry, because you have to expect these struggles from a 21-year-old pitcher. His command is a work in progress, and he has an unnerving tendency to give up home runs, but we knew that going in.
6. Steve Finley
His role is bigger than imagined, and he's hitting like the Finley of last year. Still, he's not Edgardo, and that gets him several passes, especially in arbitrary rankings like these. It's hard to see how he's not cooked, though.
5. Tyler Walker
He's this low only because he's so replaceable. Brian Wilson or Merkin Valdez can all not get outs at the same rate, and are waiting for the chance. I have less confidence in him righting the ship than some of the names to follow.
4. Scott Munter
Just like Taschner, Munter is a candidate to disappear just as quickly as he arrived. His control is a problem, but his inability to keep his sinker down is more troubling
3. Mike Matheny
We knew he couldn't hit when we signed him, but this is silly. His surprising power surge last year made him a useful property, but I could really see this guy struggle with Mendoza line concerns at some point in his career. I wouldn't be surprised to see it this season.
2. Jason Schmidt
If this was Super Password, and someone gave me the clue, "Reduced velocity and worsening command?", my first guess would be Russ Ortiz. My second would be Jason Schmidt. Then a single tear would roll down my cheek.
1. Pedro Feliz
He doesn't seem willing or able to make adjustments, as evidenced by his complete surprise when every at-bat starts with a first-pitch breaking ball. Feliz strikes me as the type of hitter who would go into an at-bat against Tim Wakefield, and sit on a slider.