One Showtime reality show later and a 86-76 record, the Giants embarrassingly missed the playoffs in 2011. The party was over for San Francisco as nobody cared about last year’s team anymore.
And if the Giants players didn’t know that repeating as champs is how you get remember, they do now because all they did was verify what I already presumed…. that is 2010 was a bona fide fluke.
So the question now is was losing as champs enough motivation for the Giants players need to get back to élite status in 2012, or not?
Let’s take a look…
The return of slugging catcher Buster Posey is big for the anemically offensive Giants. Posey had been sidelined after breaking his left ankle on May 25th in a controversial collision as he was blocking the plate. The 24-year old happens to fall under that rare breed of player that doesn’t come around often, as I haven’t heard “the Giants version of Derek Jeter” said about anyone. Still, the team relies so much on Posey bat and it must be very stressful to have to hold your breath that he doesn’t get injured.
Giants’ starting pitching is impressive. Led by staff ace Tim Lincecum who posted a 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 220 strikeouts in 2011. Following Lincecum is another 27-year old Matt Cain and he is just as much and a #1 himself. Cain posted a 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 179 K’s last season. Rounding out the last three spots are Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, and prospect Eric Surkamp.
The Giants offense definitely does not match up with the pitching, as the team is offensively anemic. Last season the bats drove in 570 runs, which was just six less than the pitchers allowed and that is not a winning formula. The Giants collectively posted a .242 batting average, which the second worst batting average in the NL. To see the difference if you look back to 2010, when the Giants won the World Series, their runs spilt was 697 scored and 583 allowed. So, it is pretty clear why the Giants lost games last season. And acquiring Melky Cabrera instead of keeping Carlos Beltran in the off-season didn’t make any sense to me. And FYI…35-year old Aubrey Huff is NOT going to have another 2010.
Are we celebrities or baseball players? Last season, the Giants were coming off their improbable World Series victory and the team seemed to be more obsessed with being celebrities than baseball players. Allowing Showtime to film a reality show during the regular season could not have been more of a distraction. The Giants proved exactly what I predicted them to do in 2011, prove that winning the World Series was a fluke because champions get hungrier to do it all over again. To be honest the Giants have embarrassed themselves by not making better moves to boost the offensive and while the front office is up to their necks in bad contracts so are many other teams. It seems the Giants decided to be cheap in their weakest area and that doesn’t make any sense. In my opinion, the Giants front office could benefit from some changes, starting with GM Brian Sabean and followed by shaving closer Brian Wilson’s beard off.
And finally, the Giants need to stop making excuses. Blaming lack of winning on injuries is total crap as all teams endure them. Yes, Posey was a big loss but the Cardinals loss their version of Lincecum, Adam Wainwright in Spring Training last season; Albert Pujols also spent time on the DL but other guys stepped in, as that is what teams do.
PLAYER(s)/GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH:
1) Buster Posey is coming back from a devastating injury, and you have to wonder if he will struggle to get contented. The Giants need the 2010 ROY recipient to resume being the star turning into prior to the injury. Posey has yet to play a full season in the Bigs, and that is a lot of pressure for a 24-year old to bear, even one as mature as Posey.
2) Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan were their two big off-season acquisitions. The Melk-man did have a solid 2011 with the Kansas City Royals posting a .305 batting average with 18 homers and 87 RBIs but did he really want to go to the Giants? The Melk-man had Yankees A-rod pleading with the team to take him back the last two off-seasons so my notion is that at first Melky will struggle in San Francisco because of the way they conduct themselves. If Melky can get on base he can bring some needed speed on the bags as he stole 20 bases in 2011. Pagan had seven homers, 56 RBIs and 32 steals in 2011, so look for him to be the Giants lead-off hitter with the Melk-man hitting in the two spot. Both guys will have to just as good or better than their 2011 campaigns but I think how they blend in with the “misfits” should be interesting to see. These two are not ideal choices to bank your whole offense on, so the risk is high.
The Giants are a team with terrific pitching, but they need to hit.
I think it is safe to chalk up 2010 to unconventional luck at the plate, because the Giants came back down to earth and showed their true selves last season. See, injuries happen to every team and not being prepared is not excusable, especially if you are the defending champions.
Fact is the Giants are just not up to par with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and will once again be watching in October not playing in it. It is simple they need to hit and that is not something this club does well.
Giants will finish second in the NL West, miss the added Wild Card spot and win somewhere around 81-87 games. Unless some attitude changes occur, 2012 will play out a lot like last season.