Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Halfway through the season

Last night's 6-1 win over the Brewers marked the beginning of the second half of the season by games played.  So it was good that they started off with a win.

2 weeks ago, everyone was feeling good about the chances of this team making a playoff run and they were ready for the offense to turn a corner.

Well, a 7 game losing streak and the evaporation of the offense has led a lot of people to fell not so good about this team's playoff chances.  

I will admit that I am have been one of those guys.  I even went so far as to buy a Fire-Sabean t-shirt, I got it Saturday and wore it when the Giants finally broke that losing streak!  My Twitter feed looks like a complaint fest.  But I have realized that it's a long season.  At least until tomorrow's game.

So how do these Giants look right now?  What needs to Happen in the second half?  Will Pablo become Pablo gain?  Can we be a little more positive again?

How do the Giants look right now?

Right now the Giants are in disarray.  They have been struggling on offense most of the year while their pitching had been stellar.  Over the last two weeks, the Giants pitching has struggled to go along with the offensive struggles.  

All teams go through a point in their season where things just don't go right.  The Dodgers' 8-14 start to the season  is a perfect example of this.  We Giants fans notice it more when it comes to the Giants because we are so invested in this team.  We have seen 3 World Series appearances in the 51 years the Giants have been in San Francisco and more recently it we have not seen a postseason since 2003.

So yeah we are naturally going to think it's the end of the world when the Giants struggle.  We don't exactly have a winning tradition when it comes to the postseason around here.

What needs to happen in the second half?

They need to find an offense.

Since Bengie Molina was traded last week the Giants have gone 2-3.  They have scored 26 runs in those 5 games which sounds like a lot until you realize that 17 of them were scored in 2 games.  In the other 3 games, which they lost BTW, they only scored 3 runs in each of those games.  

3 runs seems to be the tipping point for the Giants.  If they can score 4 or more runs it's a good bet that they will win that game.  

Now, obviously most teams are going to win games when they score 4 or more runs in a game, but it happens so infrequently with the Giants that it is a huge problem.  We are talking about a team here that has been shut out 7 times, scored one run 8 times, and scored 2 runs 12 times!  That's 27 times they have scored less than 3 runs per game!  In 82 games!

A huge key to the Giants scoring more runs is Pablo Sandoval.  If Pablo can even start hitting close to what he hit last season, then the Giants are going to score more runs.  He is not striking out that much, 39 times in 308 ABs coming into the game tonight, but he is hitting into too many DPs, and he is not making solid enough contact.  More on Pablo in a minute.

They need to win more on the road.

17-23 on the road is just not getting the job done.  If the Giants were playing .500 ball on the road things would be looking a lot better right now.  they would be 45-37 which would have them tied with the Dodgers for second place still.

They have to win in the division.

They are an astounding 9-20 against the NL west.  The only team they have a winning record against is the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Who are 19 games under .500.  But it's not like they are beating up on the D-backs or anything since they are only 3-2 against them.

Will Pablo become Pablo again and can we be more positive?

These two things go hand in hand I think.  Pablo Sandoval is going through a prolonged slump for the first time in his life.  This guy has hit everywhere he has been and when he has struggled, he has righted the ship rather quickly.  He has been somewhat snake bitten this season by the DP ball and there really is no good explanation for that other than rotten luck.

However a more disturbing thing is happening to Pablo.  Maybe to Pablo isn't the right thing to say maybe it's more like around Pablo.

The fans have started to turn on him.

Last season, he was the talk of San Francisco.  There was a huge campaign to try to get him elected to the All-Star game, a cottage industry sprung up around Panda merchandise, and he made a legitimate run at the NL MVP award.  Everybody loved their rotund third baseman.

Now people make fun of the Panda nickname, Pablo is suddenly being called fat instead of pudgy,  message board lurkers are demanding for him to be traded, and fans are loudly questioning why Pablo is in the starting lineup.

The same fans, mind you, that cry when their "pet" prospects don't get enough playing time while some old veteran is allowed AB after AB to come out of his slump.

Just because Pablo doesn't qualify as a rookie anymore doesn't take away from the fact that he is still only 24 years old and is playing in only his second full season.  He is undergoing a bit of a sophomore slump right now and will work his way out of it.  He has got to be wondering how he could have been so loved last season and so vilified this season.

Sure, he has made some bone-headed plays this season.  I think that those bone headed plays can be partly attributed to the way that the fans have treated him.  His slump at the plate and his youth are obviously more to blame but being lambasted by the fans doesn't help.

So that's what I'm hoping that we as fans can do more of the second half of the season.  We can be more positive and supportive of the players.  We can put a positive outlook on things rather than complain even when the Giants win.

We can still bag on Boch and Sabes though!

Lastly, instead of the Nate watch that I have been running for a while, I am going to start posting links to interesting Giants stories that I have come across.  The first one is from the Obsessive Giants Compulsive he provides a lot of interesting analysis as to how the 24th overall pick for the Giants this season, Gary Brown, might be a little bit of a better pick than we thought.  

The only thing I can add to this post is a bit of trivia.  The PTBNL that we got in the Bengie Molina trade, Michael Main, was also the 24th overall pick in 2007. 

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