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A Bit of Reflection

July 16, 2012

Well it’s been quite sometime since I revisited the Giants on this blog, and there has definitely been much change since that last preliminary review back in May. Firstly, the Giants are now a solid game and a half over the Dodgers for the division lead after sweeping the Astros to start the second half. Sure, it was the Astros, but coming off a short rough patch it’s reassuring to see the team maintain their advent of production post All-Star Break. Lincecum totally dominated Saturday night. Hector cost Tim a couple strikes with his framing, but otherwise the numbers speak for themselves: 8.0 IP, 5H, 0ER, BB, 11K. The fastball still hovered around 89-91, but his stuff was evidently there. It’s amazing that in spite of everything that’s happened this season, he’s maintaining his highest strikeout-rate since 2009. His BB and HR rates have surged, but the optimist in me still hopes that we’ll have Cy Lincecum back by the September stretch. Man, that’d be something.

Zack Wheeler just threw a complete game shutout yesterday for the AA Binghamton Mets, and is sitting on a 2.39 ERA with 95K in 101.2 IP. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that trade—I hated it then, and I hate it even more now. To think we could’ve had a 1-4 of Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, Wheeler goes beyond words of dominance. I suppose drafting Stratton helps alleviate some loss—he debuted with 2.0 IP, ER, BB, 3K (the hit was a HR)—but knowing that we practically gave away Wheeler for nothing, to the Mets no less, remains a tick above infuriating for me. At least we have some promising young arms in Crick and Blackburn, but they’re years away from helping out.

With Cain and Bumgarner, and Posey, Sandoval, and Belt, we have a core that’ll keep us competitive for the next 5 years, but I worry about the other 3 pieces to the rotation and the other 5 bats in the lineup.

Cain and Bumgarner will be mainstays for the next 5 and (hopefully) 7 years, but Vogelsong and Zito could potentially be gone after next season. Zito is certain to get his option declined, but Vogelsong isn’t somebody we’re hoping to let go anytime soon. The Giants have been 11-5 this year when Vogey starts and he’s the bedrock of this rotation, but he turns 35 next week and it’s hard to justify exercising an $8M option on a 36 year old going on 37. That leaves us with Lincecum, who’s going through the worst funk of his life, and is also in line to be a free agent after next season. On one hand, his hellacious season might save the front office a bit of dough in re-signing him. On the other, he could be flat out terrible again, or he could have the best season of his life and bolt for an insane amount of money—both undesirable circumstances.

In an ideal scenario, he’ll progressively get better this season and end up accepting a Cain-like deal before Spring Training starts, but it’s obviously difficult to predict what will happen when the future turns to the present.

What we can do now however, is enjoy the fruits of this Giants baseball. We have a .350 hitter, franchise catcher, perennial All-Star, rising first-baseman, solid outfielders, incredible bullpen, glorious pitching staff, and the most delightful ballpark in the world. We’re in first place, and contending for another World Series run. Let’s hope the rest of this season ends up being this good.

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