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Giants/Pirates Series Preview

The Giants are 5-14 against the Pirates over the last three seasons. The Giants have been bad over that time, but they haven't been that bad. No team has. Yet the Giants have disintegrated year after year against the Pittsburgh Pirates. What gives?

Sabean: We would like Jason Schmidt, and we are prepared to offer these beans.

Littlefield: Don't you mean "magic" beans?

Sabean: Ha ha, no. We're saving our magic beans for a big deal. You're just giving up a pitcher with an ERA in the mid 4s. It's not like he's going to put on our uniform and become one of the best pitchers in the game for the next five years. So our offer is this: just beans.

Littlefield: Are there little bits of processed pork in the beans?

Sabean: Maybe.

Littlefield: Deal.

I've done about 4,201 of these stupid fake GM conversations in the history of this site. And about 4,197 of them were created just to mock Sabean. The exceptions always -- always -- have to do with the Pirates.

Sabean: We'd better figure this out. There's only two minutes left until the trade deadline passes. We'll give you Matt Morris for Rajai Davis, and we'll send over three million dollars to help you with Morris's salary next year.

Littlefield: I'm not stupid. We'll take Morris, but only if you send over two million dollars to help with his salary for next season.

Sabean: My final offer is Morris with one million dollars.

Littlefield: Nice try, pal. I'll take Morris on the express condition that he does not come with any financial relief.

Sabean: Deal.

So while I don't believe in karma, I can write with confidence that the Giants have lost five of nineteen against the Pirates because of karma. There's also that small matter of their franchise player leaving for the Giants in free agency, which started a multi-decade circling of the toilet for the Pirates. From 2029 through 2033, the Giants are going to lose five NLCS against the Pirates, and we'll wonder what we've done to deserve it.

Hitter(s) to watch

Saaaaaay, look at all of those infielders I'd like the Giants to trade for! For some reason, I'm convinced that Adam LaRoche will be a Giant before August starts. He's an impending free agent, there aren't a lot of contenders who need help at first, and he isn't having a good enough season to command a huge bounty. The merits of a LaRoche deal are up for debate -- neither Baseball Prospectus nor FanGraphs think LaRoche is much of an upgrade over Travis Ishikawa -- but it's such an obvious fit. I kind of have the feeling that LaRoche will be hanging around until 2011 or so. As a cheap bridge between now and Villalona, the Giants could do worse. Note that this all only makes sense if you have a disturbing lack of faith in Travis Ishikawa. Which I do. Sorry.

Pitcher to watch

Zach Duke is having a nice season, albeit one that might be unsustainable. I can picture someone in the Giants front office trying to temper Sabean's enthusiasm for a Duke deal by first showing a spreadsheet of how pitchers with low BABIP have regressed, then showing a series of pie charts, then making flash cards, and finishing up with a hand puppet conversation about how Duke is unlikely to maintain his success. Godspeed, gentle front-office warrior. I can only hope you're successful.

For this series, though, a high-control, low-strikeout pitcher like Duke is almost guaranteed to dominate the Giants. "And ____ swings at the first pitch, and he pops it up to Jack Wilson, who comes in...." If the Giants win the first two games of the series -- no easy feat considering the recent history, mind you -- I'm putting a good chunk of change on the last one. Giants for the sweep + control pitcher = kerflooey.

Prediction: Juan Uribe and Freddy Sanchez have completely different performances, which heightens/tempers the "SANCHEZ 4 SANCHEZ!!!omg" chatter.