They’re right about the general mediocrity of the league, which also applies to the only slightly better American League. Critics of the NFL’s salary cap have long said it promotes mediocrity, but baseball has accomplished it without a cap. Congratulations all around.
After being swept by the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, the Giants entered Monday just a game back of St. Louis, the wild-card leader and a half-game behind Pittsburgh. Conceivably, they could get in that playoff.
But what would that accomplish? It would be foolish for even the most ardent fans to think they could do better. It’s been two months since they won a series against a team with a winning record. They look great against teams like the New York Mets, but the Mets aren’t even in the mediocrity column.
The feel-good stories of earlier in the season are fast disappearing. Tim Lincecum’s supposed rebirth comes with a qualifier: Only against the San Diego Padres. When he faces a good team, he’s out of there quickly, left only with a variety of illogical postgame explanations for his blow-ups. It’s almost as if he’s channeling Barry Zito.
Michael Morse was a great early-season story with his mammoth home runs, but he has a bad back and his power has disappeared.
Though he hasn’t said it publicly, for obvious reasons, I think general manager Brian Sabean has realized the truth: That the latest stretch of games is much more indicative of who the Giants are than that incredible 42-21 stretch with which they started the season.
The only trade he made, for Jake Peavy, was out of desperation, with Matt Cain heading for surgery, which everybody but Cain himself realized was inevitable. Sabean traded two top pitching prospects, Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar, which he may come to regret.
Significantly, he hasn’t been nearly as active as his counterpart across the Bay, Billy Beane, who has been trying to strengthen the starting pitching for the team with the best record in baseball. Beane is trying to fashion a team which can get to the World Series. Sabean is already in a wait-until-next-year mode.
Along with that, the Giants have been holding extended tryouts for players promoted from the minors. They had four rookies batting consecutively in Sunday’s game: Adam Duvall, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik and Andrew Susac. Panik has taken over at second and Susac may become the backup catcher because Hector Sanchez has taken so many shots to the head that it doesn’t seem he can continue catching.
The rookies are much more patient at the plate than has been the norm for Giants hitters. Duvall said after Sunday’s game, “You want to sit on your pitch and go for it. If it’s something you’re not looking for, it’s best for the team to work the count.”
That’s heresy to those in the Giants media who have scorned the A’s for that approach but it’s a sign that a new day is coming for the Giants. But it won’t arrive successfully before next season.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.