The second go-round of the Worry Power Rankings finds time for a little self-reflection. It seems natural for a Giants fan to make a list of ten things keeping them up at night, and unnatural to pick ten things that are going well. What sort of sick pathology is this? Other than the sick pathology of being a Giants fan, I mean. That kind of answers my own question. Never mind.
The Giants have been a frustrating franchise to follow. We've had the highest of highs; Barry Bonds, inspiring playoff and World Series wins at home, Willie Mays. We've also never won a championship - having come really, really, really close - and it's starting to mess with our minds. It's a proud tradition of almosts, and it also isn't really recognized. The White Sox used to be the forgotten curse, but that's over. The Cubs are now officially "'Merica's Lil' Unnerdogs" with the Red Sox out of the way. The only franchise close to the same stealth misery is Cleveland, though I think they take it better than we do.
So excuse us if we like to throw a couple of salmon puffs in the oven and throw ourselves a pity party with a team still in contention. It's cathartic.
Worry Power Rankings
10. Jason Ellison (Last ranking: NR)
I'm worried about his body starting to atrophy, not about his performance. Okay, Steve Finley is apparently Baron Von Super Sub, and the goal seems to be finding as many at-bats as possible for him. We get it. But throw this Ellison guy a start every three weeks, even if it's just out of pity.
9. Barry Bonds (Last ranking: #10)
I'm still not worried, but he'll climb a spot every week until he's right. He's driving the ball better, but still missing pitches he never used to miss.
8. Scott Munter (Last ranking: #4)
Still walking hitters, and still not making hitters pound his sinker into the ground. I'm not a K/BB ratio fascist, but the pitcher in question has demonstrate an uncanny ability to induce grounders for me to feel comfortable.
7. Jeff Fassero (Last ranking: NR)
With the vagaries of small sample size, it's hard to know when a pitcher is really cooked. Fassero might be fine. Or, and this almost makes more sense, last year was the sample size fluke, and this variety of Fassero is what we should expect. Lefties are drubbing him just as hard as righties, and I fear it will take a lot of drubbing to make the Giants see the light.
6. Matt Morris (Last ranking: NR)
What if the Matt Morris that finished 2005 is the real Matt Morris? What a steaming pile of mess that would be. He doesn't seem really hard to hit, but he has run into a fair amount of bad luck. There were two missed double plays yesterday - one missed by the defense, and one missed by the umpires - and both cost him big. If those plays are made, he might not make the list at all.
5. Jason Schmidt (Last ranking: #2)
One more start with 93 mph+ fastballs and good control might bump him off the list entirely. He looked excellent in his last outing.
4. Armando Benitez (Last ranking: NR - Injured)
One more appearance with 93 mph+ fastballs and good control might bump him off the list entirely. Well, he never had good control. And it'll be 2008 before he's off the list entirely. But he looked better in his last outing, and any step in the right direction is welcome.
3. Mike Matheny (Last ranking: #3)
His inclusion on the list isn't supposed to represent some sort of epiphany like, "Zoinks! Matheny isn't a good hitter!" But Matheny isn't going to be replaced. Ever. He could hit .190 for the season, and would still start through September. He makes the list because he actually could hit .190 for the season. It isn't a completely far-out scenario, and he's doing nothing to inspire faith.
2. Pedro Feliz (Last ranking: #1)
Still hacking. Still missing. The defense is still there, and he's always been a hard worker, so it's hard to not like the guy. I'd rather have Noah Lowry at the plate with the bases loaded, though.
1. Lance Niekro (Last ranking: NR)
Number one with a bullet. I wasn't crazy with my private hopes. .280/.340/.480 wasn't necessarily realistic, but you can get there without a jug of ether. Now it's time to realize that, yet again, the Giants aren't going to get offensive help from their first baseman. There's still time for Niekro to turn it around. It's only been a month. But the #1 ranking is my way of holding my breath, stomping my feet, and wailing for a real power-hitting first baseman. I politely asked for Jim Thome. Firmly recommended Carlos Delgado. Begged for Nomar Garciaparra in a panic. And I'm still waiting for something. I doubt it will ever come from Niekro, even though I would desperately like to be proven wrong.
(Dropped off - Finley, Walker, Durham, Taschner, Cain)