All right, so the Giants are only 2 games ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West, which after the Giants’ hot start is a bit frustrating. They’ve dropped several consecutive series against teams with winning records. They’re not hitting with runners in scoring position, and to put it bluntly, the bullpen hasn’t exactly come through when they were needed.
But there’s no need to hit the panic button quite yet.
Hey, after all the Giants are still in first, and that’s always a good sign. However, they are doing it against a Dodger ballclub that isn’t hitting and the Arizona Diamondbacks who have gone most of the season without their two-headed monster, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, and still manage to linger. Expect another three-team race to the end folks.
Obviously, the Giants have glaring holes that they need to improve, but due to their self-imposed salary cap, that may be difficult. But my fellow Giantsbackers, never fear! Brian Sabean is here! (Note: if Sabean does not make even a slightly significant move by the trading deadline, THEN you may panic.)
For some people, however, waiting around is not simply enough. Speculation has arisen, and the fans want answers. Thus, they create their own solutions… some of which, in this fan’s opinion, make absolutely no sense.
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Solution #1: Send Foppert/Williams to the bullpen.
Rebuttal: Two letters: N-O. Not happening. First of all, pitching coach Dave Righetti would never allow it. Secondly, Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams are not your run-of-the-mill prospects. These kids are something special, and you can see it every time they take the mound. Using them as relievers would ruin them. Don’t even think about it. I don’t care HOW badly they pitch, do not stick them in the bullpen. Send them back to Triple-A if you absolutely must. Do not convert them into relievers. That’s just asking for trouble.
Solution #2: Send Foppert/Williams back to the minors.
Rebuttal: Possible, but I’ll say no for the time being. Both Foppert and Williams have been pretty solid since they’ve come up. They have been far better than their record and even their ERA will show. Foppert has been thrown up against the big boys and performed. He nearly matched Kevin Millwood, pitch for pitch as Millwood mowed the Giants down to a no-hitter. He beat Maddux. He should have beat Schilling.
Also, Foppert is ranked as the fourth ML starter most hurt by his bullpen. He has been ranked as high as first. Had Williams been up as long as Foppert, I would expect Williams ranked up there as well. Both young righties have had a couple of spectacular performances ruined by either lack of hitting or poor pitching out of the ‘pen.
I am not appreciating how people are demanding Foppert gone due to two bad starts. He's not consistent, but he's a rookie. What were you expecting from him? He may be a Cy Young winner one day, but to expect stability from him from day one is way too much to ask for. With every rookie, there are growing pains. This is normal, people. It takes time for rookies to establish themselves. If it doesn't happen this year, it'll happen next year. And you know what, we'll be in the race again next year. So are we gonna keep them in Triple-A until we're out of the race? Not happening, folks. It's bound to happen sooner or later.
Consider also that with Kurt Ainsworth out on the disabled list (for God knows how long), the Giants are already short a starter. Not only that, what about Moss? People are complaining about Foppert, but really, what about Moss?! Stat-wise, he looks better, but ah, remember, looks aren’t everything, right? Personally, Moss is on the brink of driving me batty. Based on performance, he should be the first starter to go.
Maybe, you say, Foppert needs more experience. He’s not “ready.” When he’s down at Fresno, he could learn more, gain more knowledge in the area of pitching. Making the 22-year-old start in the bigs now is a horrible idea and the person who even thought of it should burst into flames!
Cmon, people, let’s be rational here.
How much experience can he gain when almost half of the outs he recorded at Fresno in the 2002 season were strikeouts? In his one start for the Grizzlies this year, he struck 9 out and walked none in 5 innings of work. So, ask yourself: exactly how much will he learn at that level if he’s simply blowing everyone away?
Though, if the end of July nears, and Foppert continues to flop, I’m all for replacing him with a proven veteran.
Solution #3: Trade Ainsworth/Foppert/Williams for [insert player’s name here]
Rebuttal: No. Nuh uh. No way. Unless that player is someone absolutely dynamic, young, and signed to a cheap long-term contract, don’t even think about it. In my book, Ainsworth, Foppert, and Williams are as close to “untouchable” as there are in the Giants system. (This is assuming Ainsworth bounces back from his injury.) I think I’ll pass on this option.
Solution #4: Send Foppert or Williams to the ‘pen and have a few of the relievers start.
Rebuttal: Now, I find this an extremely intriguing thought. Not because it might work, but because it’s absolutely insane. Especially with some of the names tossed around: Joe Nathan, Chad Zerbe, Jim Brower, and Jason Christiansen. Let’s break it down, each at a time.
Joe Nathan: Hello, we tried having him start in Fresno. He couldn’t cut it. If he couldn’t do it against Triple-A hitters, how in tarnation do you expect Nathan to do it against big leaguers?
Chad Zerbe: No. No way. Maybe spot starting, but having him go the rest of the season as a starter is asinine. The last time he threw more than 3 innings in a game was back on June 18th, 2002 against Tampa Bay. And there’s a reason he’s practically the last guy coming out of the bullpen. Think about it.
Jim Brower: I love Brower, and he’s been steady out of the bullpen for us, but again, the last time he pitched more than 3 innings was a 3.1 outing on July 15, 2002 against Philly where he surrendered 3 earned runs. He has not pitched more than 3 innings this season yet. And on that note, neither has Zerbe.
Jason Christiansen: I laughed when I heard that one. If anyone out there honestly thinks Christiansen should, or even could, start… I have a bridge I’d like to sell ya.
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I have squished any solution hoping the “solve” the “starting problem.” Yes, the starters have been far from perfect, but a far more pressing problem is the bullpen. After all, a reliever who goes out there every two days affects the team more than a starter who just goes out there every fifth. Though, don’t take this as me saying we shouldn’t look for starting help, especially if either (or both) Foppert or Moss continues to falter.
The Giants got more than they could have ever expected from Joe Nathan in the first month. But even his streak of "scoreless" innings was a bit tainted; he allowed many of the runners he inherited to score. Felix Rodriguez, affectionately called "Fraud" by many fans, has simply not come through this season. At all. He has not showed up.
Obviously, the Giants are hurting without Robb Nen, but they are hurting more than a lot of us had anticipated. Tim Worrell has successfully adopted the closer role, but no one has taken the set-up spot Worrell left empty. Scott Eyre has been consistant, and Brower has been a pleasant surprise, but that’s about where it ends. I cringe every time I see or hear that Rodriguez is heading down to the bullpen and cross my fingers anytime Nathan is given the ball. That is not good.
The name Ugueth Urbina has been tossed around. At $4.5 million, he may be a bit pricey. However, general manager Brian Sabean has been given the ok to pick up another contract. We may see a major move yet. Who we pick up may also depend on who is "out of contention" by the time we near the deadline.
Never fear folks – in Sabean we trust.
Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at email@example.com
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