Hitter to watch:
Whatever.Until the Giants are mathematically eliminated, we won’t see John Bowker or Buster Posey, who are the only real internal options to help the 2010 offense. Bowker gets an at-bat a week, and he either walks or strikes out. Are the strikeouts happening because he has an untamable urge to flail at every breaking ball in the dirt, or is it because he’s caked in rust? No one knows.
There’s no way to find out in the heat of a pennant race because that would mean that one of the worst hitters in the league would have to sit. And then what would happen if Bowker were one of the worst hitters in the league? Chaos. Nothing would change from a statistical standpoint – replacing one bad hitter with another wouldn’t make a difference in the number of runs scored – but the veterans would run amok, staging a bloody coup. They would be completely incapable of understanding that poor performance might lead to decreased playing time, so they would act like overgrown toddlers with access to baseball bats. The sea would run red with the blood of those who dared lessen a veteran’s playing time. I mean, check it out for yourself.
The upside would have been that the Giants would have scored more runs, and perhaps they might have pulled out an extra game or two in the late months. But that certainly isn’t worth the violence.
When Jason Bay had an okay season in the Eastern League when he was 23, that was nice, but it sure didn’t mean anything. And when Bay hit well in AAA when he was 24, that didn’t mean anything. What meant something was when Bay got a chance with the Pirates, who weren’t contending, and he succeeded. Well, he was pretty poor in the same number of at-bats that Bowker received this year before getting hot, but that's not the point. It would have been nice if Bowker succeeded with the chance he wasn’t given, as that would make things pretty clear. It’s Bowker’s fault, though, that he failed in sporadic appearances at the major league level, which means much more than a consistent pattern of AAA success built over an entire season and utilizing an impressive and reworked approach to hitting.
In conclusion, it’s too bad that Bowker’s going to be blocked by the 6 year/$100M contract the Giants give to Jason Bay.
Fielder to watch:
A new series-preview category this late in the season? What gives? It’s worth it, though, as there’s a small chance that Buster Posey might start a game this season. So let’s just review what Tim Lincecum said about Posey’s defense:
I swear to all that is holy, if he starts one game, I’m walking off the team. When he showed up to catch my bullpen session, he had one of those novelty "#1" foam oversized fingers, and when I asked him about it, he sincerely thought that was a catcher’s mitt. Like, he wasn’t kidding. And then when he started calling pitches, he called for, and I quote, "a quick slant or an alley-oop."
I’m sorry, but rookie catchers need decades of apprenticeship before they start. End of discussion. That would have ended our season if he started.
And don’t forget what Madison Bumgarner said when Posey caught the left-hander’s inning on Saturday:
"This time, it was like a regular game to me," said Bumgarner. "Balls went to the backstop, he threw a ball into the stands trying to pick someone off ‘at fifth base’, and he hit on the rosin bag. The guy’s a joke of a catcher."
Hopefully, if Molina gets a rest, we’ll see more Eli Whitside.
Pitcher to watch:
You’re still reading? Jeez. That much bitter sarcasm usually makes everyone leave for at least a week. Uh, a pitcher to watch, let’s see, uh… Dan Runzler. He’s much more impressive than I was expecting; I suppose I was a little cynical and expecting a high-eighties dookie specialist. Because young pitchers can handle stressful pennant races, we’ll see him a couple of times in the series in high-leverage situations. Even in the blowouts, it’s been fun to watch Runzler pitch.