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The Return of 2009

Brad Penny.
Brad Penny.

Good morning, person who entered a fugue state in 2009 and just woke up. Happy you're here. Brad Penny is in the Giants organization and Emmanuel Burriss is starting again for the Giants. There are other things you should know, but I started with those three points because I'm an ass, and I wanted to confuse you.

See? I just told you there were three points, and you had to go back and read the sentence again. There is nothing funnier than trying to confuse someone who just woke up from a fugue state! I wish I could spin you around in an office chair for good measure.

Do you remember 2009? Probably not. You're still staring off into the distance, confused and foggy. But no one else remembers it either. That was the year the Giants perfected the all-pitching/no-hitting template. The year after, they had some real hitters. Two years after, there were horrible injuries and other extenuating circumstances. You don't know all of that yet. But back to Penny.

No, Brad Penny isn't back because he's so good and the Giants couldn't live without him. He was one of the worst pitchers in the American League last year. But I trust the Giants to figure out if he still has anything left in his arm, so it's hard to laugh at the move. You'd think that Penny being back in the organization would be funnier. It's somewhere between Brian Burres and Todd Linden on the returning-player-amuse-o-meter. I mean it won't be that amusing when Penny takes Tim Lincecum's rotation spot, but still …

I assume that shrieking is because you're excited that Todd Linden is back. He's hot right now! And those must be tears of joy instead of horror and fear. Boy, you were really into Todd Linden.

Ah, but you want to hear about Emmanuel Burriss. No, no, you do. First off, he's not going by Manny anymore. Second, he's starting a lot at third base. When you left, he was having a bad year, but he was only 24, so you're probably thinking he developed into a worthwhile major-league player, right? Right? That's so cute. But no. Here's how bad he is: I feel awful for him. He dove right past organizational scapegoat and went right into "Jeez, poor guy …" territory. It happened in two at-bats:

May 15, Rockies at Giants
It was the sixth inning, and the Giants were down two with runners on first and second. Tim Lincecum was on deck. There were two outs. Emmanuel Burriss tried to bunt his way on base.

May 20, A's at Giants
In the second inning, with two outs, Burriss bunted for a hit. Tim Lincecum was on deck.

I understand that there's a little strategy behind the second one. Lincecum got to hit instead of lead off the next inning. But both bunt attempts came from a lost baseball player. He didn't know what else to do in those situations. He was sick of making outs, and he just wanted to feel the white pastures of base underneath his feet one last time. He's completely lost, and he's probably terrified that his roster spot is on the line. Rightfully so. It's past the point of being angry with him.

Now you're even more confused. And a little ashen. No, the Giants really are starting Burriss, but there are extenuating circumstances there, too. I probably should have led with that. Pablo Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez are hurt, as is the designated backup infielder. Conor Gillaspie happened to show off amazingly awful defense at the worst possible time, so here we are. It's not like the Giants are overflowing with better options.

The Giants started this year doing the same thing they did all throughout 2009 -- wasting good pitching over and over again. There are four starting pitchers with ERAs between 2.27 and 3.10, but it's hard for the Giants to stay over .500. Ryan Vogelsong is leading the team in ERA again, but the Giants are …

Oh, now you're vomiting in the corner. Man, I didn't mean to throw this stuff at you all at once. Was it the Vogelsong mention? Probably should have eased you into that one. Sorry. And, really, Brad Penny and Emmanuel Burriss aren't the whole story about the 2012 Giants. I'm feeling guilty about harassing you now. Here's what you need to know about the 2012 Giants:

  • Lately they've had a much better approach at the plate. Maybe it'll pass, but even in yesterday's loss, the discipline and offense was encouraging.
  • Except from the young first baseman, who is doing his best to make his fanboys (myself included) look bad every time after he shows a little promise.
  • The team is just trying to hold on until Pablo Sandoval gets back. He's in extended spring training right now, and he might be back in a couple of weeks. That will fix a lot of problems.
  • Tim Lincecum looks broken, but the stats suggest he's unlucky. No one knows which is which just yet.

Things could be worse. Things could be better.

But I'll be honest with you, there was a 2009 vibe about this team even before you (or Brad Penny) showed up. They turned the waste of good pitching into an art that year, boy. And they were doing it again this year. Maybe the commitment to better at-bats will stick. But if it goes away again, the 2009 comparison will be wholly appropriate. It's a shame that you picked this season to wake up when you think of it that way. You picked the season that was most like the last one you remember, and you missed that whole winning-the-World-Series thing.

Hello? Hello? Welp, right back into the fugue state. I should probably call someone. Instead, I shall leave through the back door and hop over the fence. Sorry about that, person from 2009. You don't belong in our time.