The trade deadline is now eight days away.
The Nemesis swept the Giants over all four games of a series at the Ravine for the first time in 27 years to add to the brace they “swept,” back in May, and took a 6 – 3 lead in the season series (we swept them at Oracle in June). None of this means anything, but that’s what is up. You can read about any previous series GBC covered by following the links.
I had hoped we could take two, and the Giants fought hard in each of the four games in L.A., but they made way too many errors. They made just plain old playing mistakes even more: bad exchanges, misplays and misalignments galore. From a management standpoint it looked like a train wreck. It reminded me of that weekend in Cincinnatti that started that road trip back in May. Whew.
It also reminded me of the movie, “Moneyball,” when Billy Beane and the fictional Sabermetrician “Pete,” are under fire – just before The Streak. Everybody is doubting the system, nobody is blaming Art Howe. Is Gabe Kapler getting a pass, here, too? Because I have serious questions about the process.
It is way better to end the season hot – it’s how the sub-par St. Louis Cardinals did it in 2011, Pujols’ last championship, when they ran the table starting on August 10th. The Braves started way late last year.
So I guess I am still okay with losing the series, even with being swept, if it gave David Villar and Luis Gonzalez and Sam Long and others on the staff important Chavez Ravine experience. But we need to catch the Padres or seize a playoff spot from the Phillies or St, Louis.
We were very much in three of the games, we had a legitimate shot to win. The mistakes were precisely self-defeating. As I was watching game one, when Darin Ruf smashed his first grand slam (that one’s for Darin’s father, William L. “Bill” Ruf passed away May 30th) to tie the game, I suddenly had a new perception of the philosophy: everyone on staff has one shared job – to hang around until we can beat the opposing bullpen.
Might seem obvious, but what I realized is that now, when Gabe Kapler and co., charge you with hanging around, the score doesn’t matter, you could give up four runs on a grand slam, you are staying out there to finish the job. It’s your inning, score be damned.
Sam Long got caught in it in game two and I saw it clearly. The deal is you go out there and you endure and you pitch your inning. You get your three outs. If you get jacked, so be it. This applies to starters, too. You get your five, or six or seven innings if we need it. You aren’t going to be pulled for giving up two or three or even five runs. I guess the logic is that knowing they don’t have an ‘out’ forces them to step up, to try harder? Kapler’s just staring at them, going, “What? It’s you.” He has left a lot of guys hung out to dry.
But, to the system’s credit it has helped weed out those who cannot hang. The reasons for this are many: not enough fixed talent, complicated scheduling. Our staff on any given day is composed of lots of different guys playing together for all kinds of reasons. We are not fielding two or three expensive guys who play everyday. The defensive chaos has resulted from this mixed bag of teammates as well.
All this leaving-guys-in stuff results in blown up innings. The worst result of it was The Circus Game in St. Louis and it happened again in New York. The system really screwed Mauricio Lloveras, gone to the 60-day after a great start, because of a strain from seemingly pointless use in this game.
But it isn’t pointless. At the meta-level it’s innings-eating. They were measuring Lloveras’ endurance. Kapler and co. used these to learn and to use multiple player combinations. They discovered they can use Luis Gonzalez in a pinch, as a pitcher, in games where it doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of science and learning going on, I’ll say that. I could just use more winning.
The dictate to every single player playing the first six innings now seems to be: just hang around, hang around, hang around and we’ll punch ’em in the ‘pen with pinch hitters.
But that’s not a championship philosophy.
It lacks fire, urgency. We are urgently missing a captain, a barking-angry or semi-psycho cheerleader. We could use some nasty. All this science and managerial shifting has everybody playing way too inside themselves. WE NEED FIRE. Hey Brandon! Captain? You wanna get this crew up right now, please? Oh, no, you’re aloof sarcastic guy. Joc? Longo? Somebody get hot!
The next question to answer is why are we playing hang around and we’ll punch ’em in the ‘pen? Context provides the answer to why.
The Giants ended the first half with their longest consecutive game stretch of the season. Here at GBC we called it The Gauntlet II. They played seventeen games in the first seventeen straight days of July – right up to the All Star break. (Last year the longest consecutive game stretch was sixteen games, The Gauntlet – and it was the epic heart of the record-breaking, 107-win season).
But this year, the Giants face a double whammy. They open the second half on the road with … the second longest consecutive game stretch of the season – fourteen games. This is a managerial nightmare.
I don’t think much media is writing about or covering the context properly because we live in a society that is so sped up it screams about the now. What’s in front of our nose is the first four-game sweep of the Giants in Chavez Ravine in 27 years. What Gabe Kapler is looking at is a 17-game stretch, the All-Star break and then a 14-game stretch.
Zaidi, Kapler and co. are stretching their ability to evaluate players and exercise options to the very last minute. They are resting and recuperating the veterans – either for the stretch run or for trade. It is a flurry already and there’s a week to go. I really hope Mr. Zaidi does something big.
The Giants have used more players than any team thus far, and will have done so by far by season’s end. We just put Evan Longoria on the IL again for ten days because Zaidi/Kapler want to keep the vet fresh for when it matters while bringing up a brand-new pitcher, Gregory Santos, as per MLBTR:
“Santos, just 22 years old, has four big league appearances under his belt, but just one so far this season. Santos is the Giants’ 7th-ranked prospect per Fangraphs, though he did not make Baseball America’s list of top-30 prospects in the Giants’ system. The power righty owns a 3.42 ERA across 26 1/3 innings in Triple-A.”
They just acquired lefty Ben Bowden from the Rays.
It really does have the feel of a selling year.
Unless … all of a sudden Mr. Zaidi makes a move.
The trade deadline is now eight days away.
I found this link by Jeff Young over at Around the Foghorn that says Ken Rosenthal thought Willson Contreras of the Cubs would be a good fit as a veteran catcher to platoon with Curt Casali.
By the way, Joey Bart had a great night in the loss last night. It was good to see him perform. But Willson Contreras would be a veteran upgrade toward the playoffs that isn’t that expensive – a very Farhan move.
I ran a Stathead comparison of Willson Contreras vs. Curt Casali – um, yeah. Upgrade. Bart, Austin Wynns, and Yermin Mercedes can all catch in a pinch.
and just for kicks Contreras vs Buster Posey – check it out.
We are going into the desert with untried pieces just eight days before the trade deadline. I wish I understood or had any idea what that means!
Let’s Go Giants!
Wrangle the Snakes!