Back in 2012, the Giants were swept by the Dodgers at home just before the trade deadline. The Giants allow the Dodgers to sweep them at home in every even year -- a simple requirement of the blood magick -- but we didn't know that yet. And there was something unsettling about losing a series like that just before the deadline.
Naturally, everyone here was as calm as can be, and there were thoughts:
But I think there's a chance -- a chance -- that this sweep burrows deep into the brains of important front-office types and starts chewing on some wires. Not in a conscious way. But as the deadline approaches, and they receive a counter-offer to a proposal they made for Hunter Pence, and they start adding up the pros and cons and risks and rewards and costs and benefits, this sweep could directly influence the team into making a move, even if they wouldn't admit it. The answer to the question of "Do we really *need* Hunter Pence?" sure seems like it'd be different today than it was on Thursday.
The Giants didn't really need Hunter Pence's bat in 2012, you know. They needed his books on tape for the clubhouse, but he was quite lousy at the plate for the rest of that season. They got him, though, and it ended up being one of the better moves in franchise history.
Matt Cain's start on Tuesday felt like that, if just a little. It wasn't getting swept at home by a hated rival, but it was a seed of doubt planted in your brain. The seed sprouted and wrapped like ivy around your brain. Now some of it is coming through your nose. It's really disconcerting.
The only cure for this brain ivy is Cole Hamels, baby.
Or not. If the Giants remain inactive on Friday, it'll be because they're pretty confident in Cain. I applaud that confidence. I'm not sure if I recommend it, though. And a game like that is making some folks second-guess themselves. Cain looked, stuff-wise, like he has for much of his time back. He wasn't hitting corners, though. There was a black hole in the middle of the plate, sucking all of the pitches right into it.
If this is April, 2012, I brush it off. It's early. He flashed some crisp pitches here and there. Just needs to shake the rust off.
If this is May, 2014, I brush it off. Ugh, one of those starts. Happens. Once he locks in, though, hopefully he'll turn it around.
This is July, 2015. There isn't time for more fact-finding missions. It's time to make a decision, Mr. President. Do we use diplomacy ... or force? You must make a decision, Mr. President, before the entire dam bursts.
None of this affects Cain specifically, of course. He's in the rotation indefinitely because he offers an upside that Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, and various Tims would not. While I haven't seen enough from Cain to be supremely confident in his ability to pitch like it's 2012 again, I'm not overly pessimistic. Just needs to shake the rust off. Once he locks in, though, hopefully he'll turn it around.
Just one more pitcher, though. Just one more of them fancy pitchers they talk about on the Internet ... why, this game showed you how nice that would be, right?
Unless that's an overreaction to the end of a losing streak that had to come eventually.
Bruce Bochy: Hey, there he is! We're thrilled to have you in the organization, guy.
Gerardo Parra: I am happy to be here. I've admired the way you do things over here for a long time.
Bochy: You got it. We'll start you with some filing. These are expense reports from the last few years, and they got kind of messed up. Anyway, you need to sort them by the employee's last name, and ...
Parra: There must be some mistake. I am Gerardo Parra. I have come to play baseball.
Bochy: Well, you're going to stay the hell away from the baseball field, actually. We have some good outfielders, and we're more concerned with keeping you away from the other teams. We'd let you play, but we're scared that you're a golem sent from a wizard to destroy us and, anyway, you look up the employee's last name and file it appropriately.
Bochy: I have to go now.
Bochy: /locks door from outside
Parra: Gerardo Parra is a team player who does not question this strategy.
Parra: "Templeton, Esther ... T - E - M - P - L ...
Another relief outing for Ryan Vogelsong, another lousy job of convincing the higher-ups that he needs to be in the rotation to be effective. Two weeks ago, he was grinding out appearances in typically frustrating Vogelsong fashion. On Tuesday, he was throwing 93 mph on the corner. More than that, hitters looked uncomfortable against him, which hasn't happened in quite a while, at least not with any regularity.
If he keeps throwing it 92/93, he's essentially in Santiago Casilla range, and he becomes the second-hardest thrower in the bullpen after Hunter Strickland. That says quite a bit more about the Giants' bullpen than it does Vogelsong, but if you're looking for silver linings in the cloud of almost-average starting pitchers, it's that one of the more familiar ones just might be better suited for short relief.