Dickey: Giants' road to the postseason filled with potholes 

Another challenge to the Giants’ postseason hopes has surfaced: The NL West is much stronger than expected. Pity that the Houston Astros aren’t in it.

The biggest surprise has been the San Diego Padres, who were expected to be division doormats again this season. We should have paid more attention to their strong finish last season. The Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have righted themselves and the Colorado Rockies, preseason favorites to win the division, are playing well. After the weekend games, these teams and the Giants were bunched in a three-game spread.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ strength remains pitching and their weaknesses remain hitting (or lack of it) and age.

The Giants sometimes break out against mediocre pitching, but they’re usually handcuffed by good pitchers. There is no easy solution for that. Jermaine Dye is still unsigned, but Dye is now a defensive liability in the outfield and he’s set his asking price too high. Granted, that hasn’t stopped the Giants in the past, but their payroll is already higher than anybody expected them to go this year.

Internal options aren’t good, either. One that has been considered lately has been to bring up Buster Posey, play him at first and shift Aubrey Huff to left field.

This is a bad idea for two reasons. The first is that it would retard Posey’s growth as a catcher. He’s in Fresno because the Giants starters preferred to pitch to Bengie Molina this year.

Though there are those who think Posey should be a first baseman, he doesn’t seem to have the power teams usually expect at that position, though the Giants standard has been very low of late. Conversely, he looks as if he could be a real offensive plus as a catcher.

The other problem is that Huff, who has played surprisingly well at first, would be a defensive liability in left field; the combination of Andres Torres and John Bowker serves the Giants much better. At one time in the early ’60s, the Giants put Willie McCovey out there, and McCovey had never played the outfield, even in high school. But Willie Mays was in center. Mays told McCovey, “Just guard the foul line. I’ll take everything else.” To state the obvious, Aaron Rowand is not Willie Mays.

At some point, too, the Giants starters may feel the pressure of thinking they have to pitch a shutout to win. How would you like to be Jonathan Sanchez after two starts in which he only gave up two runs and four hits and yet lost both games?

The age of this team is already starting to show.

Mark DeRosa and Edgar Renteria are already on the disabled list. The Giants claim they did a complete check on DeRosa’s recovery from wrist surgery. Must have been the same doctor who examined Freddy Sanchez. Reportedly, Sanchez will finally be activated this week after recovering from December shoulder surgery. Too bad the Giants are on the road or they could have a special day for him.

The Giants pitching may still be good enough to overcome their lack of hitting and their age, but at this point, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

 

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Glenn Dickey

Glenn Dickey

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