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Monday, July 11, 2011

Half Thoughts

Three days off.  Bochy and the boys are on their way to the desert for some fun in the (sweltering) sun.  That means it’s time to reflect on what they’ve done to this point. 

I’ll begin by saying this: for all the turmoil they’ve suffered through during the first four months of play, these Giants have impressed the hell out of me.  I know there have been a lot of complaints about the subpar offense, but you know what?  That’s a first place offense that takes the field at AT&T.  Laugh all you want, but I’m just pointing out the facts.  They haven’t scored many runs, but they’ve scored enough to keep themselves in first for all but a few days of the entire first half.  They score runs when they need to. 

Obviously, this team is still carried by its pitching.  Four pitchers on the All-Star team, and two or three more who are well deserving of a spot - that’s impressive.  The emergence of Ryan Vogelsong, the steadiness of Matt Cain, and the possible resurgence of ole’ Barry Zito himself has the Giants’ rotation looking stronger than ever.  It would be nice to see Timmy tighten up his mechanics in the second half, and can we please get Madison Bumgarner some wins?!  But, overall I’d say the strength of this team is indeed looking very strong at this point.

You know, the injuries to Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez are becoming more and more unfortunate as the season progresses.  Namely because with both of them I think we’d be a solid pick to claim the World Series again if they were healthy.  I mean, look at what this team is doing.  Without two of their most influential players, the Giants are 12 games over .500 at the break.  Now I’m not too young to remember just how hard wins were to come by during the middle part of the last decade.  We Giants fans are spoiled right now, even if we think our offense stinks. 

Here’s what I do know about the offense: Pablo Sandoval is ripping 2009 style, and it’s having a tremendous impact on the spirit of this team.  With so many struggles at the plate, it was time for someone to step in and lift the morale, and that’s what the Panda has done.  I think his hot streak will certainly carry over into the second half.  Maybe Pablo’s hitting will let Aubrey Huff relax a little and start hitting the ball himself.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  If not, let’s hope Brandon Belt can come back from his injury and establish himself in the lineup by season’s end.  Now that would be amazing! 

If you haven’t been keeping up with the scorebooks over the past couple weeks, then you might not know that Nate Schierholtz has earned the right to play in right (field) as often as he would like.  Always known for his intangibles and strong arm, Nate the Great is finally hitting.  When he made his way into the big leagues a few years ago, I thought he could be a solid .280 hitter with a little pop.  He’s slowly starting to resemble that player.  At the break, his average is climbing toward .300 and he’s got 7 HR.  What a nice surprise for a sore lineup.  Keep it up kid!                  

I’m really hoping Brandon Crawford gets to finish the season at short.  Can you imagine the experience this kid is going to get if they keep him out there?  Competing for a division title and possibly the playoffs?  Learning at the highest level is the best way for some guys, and I think Crawford could be one of them.  I’ve heard some of the hosts on KNBR say they didn’t think he’d be a career .250 hitter, but I do.  I like his approach at the plate, and I love his two-strike hack.  A kid that young with that solid of an approach is going to contribute at the dish sooner or later.  He’s already starting to show signs of improvement, and we all know what he can do at short.  Please management, let the kid grow into this spot. 

Speaking of showing signs of improvement, Miguel Tejada’s average is slowly coming back.  Boy, do we need him to get going in the second half.  I’d also like to see Pat Burrell get a little more PT (if we don’t trade for another outfielder).  I know this offense has seemingly hit rock bottom a couple times this year, but I think they are poised for a stronger second half.  The recent talk about acquiring Carlos Beltran have me seeing a much improved offense down the stretch if the deal takes place.  Obviously, there are a lot of factors that come into play here, and I was one person who was against making such a trade a month ago.  But this team is proving that it is still a major player in the NL, and I think we’ve got to make a push to improve.  Beltran would clearly be an upgrade at the plate, and he can play some defense too.  Plus, he wants to come to SF (or so it’s been reported).  But we’ll save all that talk for another post.  For now, I like the idea.

So, as we enjoy seeing some of our boys in the All-Star festivities this week, it’s hard not to look at this team and be impressed.  52-40 at the break, without Posey and Sanchez.  Wow!  The most amazing thing about these guys is the way they always seem to bounce back.  Injuries, bad games, losing streaks, etc. don’t seem to keep them down for long.  That tenacity is what earned them a title last year, and I truly think it will carry them to another division title this season.  Let’s cross our fingers and hope for a competitive, exciting, and most importantly successful second half.  Oh… and root for the NL this week so the Giants can defend their World Series title with home field advantage again!

Thanks for reading. Hum Babe Giants! 

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