My expectations for this year are fully tempered. I don’t need much. I know the Giants are going to be lousy and I know that they’ll struggle to win games. I’ve made my peace with this. I’m cool. As long as Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitch a healthy season, I’ll consider this year a step in the right direction.
I can’t shake the feeling that today’s 5-0 loss to the Dodgers is going to be the way things are this season. The Giants no longer have Barry Bonds, and boy, let me tell you how free and easy that clubhouse is now! Gone is the recliner and the large locker that Bonds once held. His absence is filled by grit, speed, defense, and solid pitching. Except out of the three things the Giants need to do this season to win — pitch well, run well, and play good defense — the team didn’t do any of the three today.
‘Bad Zito’ surfaced again and has me and every other Giants fan shaking in their respective zapatos thinking about just how bad this contract is going to look down the road, if it doesn’t already look horrific. Zito came out throwing his patented 83mph gas above the belt to mostly bad results. Like we discovered in our Zito PITCHf/x article a month or so ago, Zito’s control of the fastball has degraded. In today’s game he constantly missed up in the zone with his fastball which tops out around 86mph these days. Jeff Kent hit a laser-rocket-blast off of a 86mph Zito fastball that was right down broadway. ESPN’s radar gun had Zito constantly working around 83mph with his fastball. Zito only walked one but he also only struck out one in 5 innings of work. Not a good sign from our so-called ace.
Defense you say? Bocock made a really nice play in the hole that allowed him to show off his arm to get an out but other than that, the D looked suspect. Ray Durham bonked a 60 foot Brad Penny flyball off of his glove that led to a run. In the 6th inning Molina started his passed ball total for the year — he tied for the league lead in PB’s in ’07 with 16 — when a Merkin Valdez fastball ricocheted off of his glove. I think it was Steve Phillips of ESPN that duly mentioned that Molina was once a gold glover — 5 years and 100 lbs ago. Aaron Rowand also made some questionable throws that reminded me of Marvin Bernard.
Speed you ask? Dave Roberts was promptly thrown out at 2nd after leading off the game with a single. Brian Bocock was picked off at first by Joe Biemel in the 8th inning.
I think today’s game showed just how tough it is to play with the “speed and defense” formula that the Giants have been espousing. You have to play the game almost perfectly to have net gains. A defensive miscue here and a caught stealing there will really derail the team’s quest for a win. Meanwhile, Jeff Kent bopped a three run home run like it was nothing. Thats why trying to play baseball like it’s 1982 isn’t a great option for the year 2008. The environments are totally different. A speed and defensive team may have worked then but times have changed and it’s extremely hard to do now. The Giants will scrap and claw and fight for a run or two while the other team — one with an actual offense — will just hit a 3-run home run to win the game.
The season has started. The Giants looked terrible. These are undeniable truths. Let’s play the next one.
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