*Pedro Martinez tangent: Pedro has always been of my favorite pitchers and I was impressed by watching him pitch last night. He might not be the Pedro of old, but it’s clear that he still has enough stuff and smarts to get major league hitters out. His fastball was around 90mph and he featured good location on most of his pitches. He didn’t look like a pitcher that had missed most of this season. Pedro’s run from 97-03 is still one of the most spectacular stretches of dominant pitching in baseball. If you haven’t looked at those numbers in awhile, go, check it out. You’ll be surprised.
Anyways, I’m calling this loss a typical one because it featured, in one game, most of the problems that the Giants have had this year.
~ Zito continues to walk hitters and display poor command and control of his pitches. He walked 5 last night in a loss that saw him drop to 1-9. Zito’s BB% after this start is 12.4%, a career high for him. He only struck out one hitter. He looked decent in the early going, but like most Zito starts, he started to fall apart the 2nd time through the lineup in the 4th and 5th innings. The curve looked OK but his fastball command was spotty and his changeup command was poor. In the 5th inning he hung, yes hung, a 74mph changeup at the letters of Carlos Beltran who ripped it down the line for a double and 2 RBI’s. Every time Zito throws his changeup, it seems to float up and away and into the happy zone of hitters.
On the TV side last night Kruk kept saying that “[Mets Player] is a highball hitter” when the Mets made good contact on Zito up in the zone. But I’ve got some news for you Mike, every hitter in the major leagues will be a good hitter on a 74mph change up in the zone. It’s the equivalent of dropping a live cow into a piranha tank. Ugly. One of Zito’s biggest problems last year was location and he’s still having those problems.
~ The infield defense was also poor last night, giving the Mets a helping hand in their 8-run 5th inning. The culprits were the usually steady Omar Vizqeul and not-so-steady stoned gloved Ray Durham. With runners at the corners in the 5th inning, Omar fielded a grounder somewhat deep at shortstop. Durham wasn’t going to be able to get to the bag before Mets runner for the forceout and Omar decided that he would try for a footrace to the bag for the out. He didn’t get to the bag in time and his throw to first base was late, both runners safe. It’s a tough play but for a defensive master like Omar, you figure he would have taken the sure out at first.
Durham’s mistake was less forgivable. He simply didn’t catch a ball hit right to him. The bases were loaded and the infield was playing in, Jose Reyes was hitting and hit the ball right at Durham, the ball clanked off Durham’s glove and rolled away for another run. Durham would have had a shot at turning a double play but instead the Giants didn’t get any outs.
The Giants defense is very Jekyll and Hyde-ish. The outfield defense ranks as the best in the National League right now. By RZR, Lewis is rated as the 3rd best LF defender, Rowand is rated as the 2nd best CF defender, and Rany Winn is rated as the best RF defender. That’s a ton of good outfield defense. You’ve got three guys with some ability to play CF spread over three OF spots.
The infield defense, not-so-good. It ranks as the worst in the National League by RZR. Jose Castillo and Ray Durham are a large part of that poor ranking. Bocock was a very good defender at SS in the bigs but he couldn’t hit. The jury is still out on Omar’s defense because he’s barely played any innings, but he looks decent, if not a little diminished in range. Bowker is still learning first base and Aurilia is what he is, semi-decent glove without much range.
Still, the Giants inability to play quality defense on the infield hurt them last night. It probably won’t be the last time, either.
Travis Denker did hit his first career HR with a 3-run shot in the 9th inning that he crushed to left-center. Mark Sweeney has a -1 OPS+, I think we won that trade. Denker is no glove man but he might see some time at 2B to spell Durham occasionally. I’d like to see Denker get some more AB’s, he’s had all of 12 since he got the call, mostly in pinch hitting duties. If Durham isn’t traded by the trading deadline, I would be tempted to just cut him and let Denker or anyone else play 2B for the remainder of the year.
Update: I forgot to mention that lefty reliever Erik Threets was designated for assignment on Monday. The Giants will have 10 days to either trade him, waive him, or send him back to the minors if he clears waivers. Threets, he of the 95+mph fastball, has struggled with his control throughout his career. Since 2005, here are his BB%’s in the minor leagues: (AA) 15.6, (AAA) 15.5, and (AAA) 14.7. A team that likes his arm might take a chance on him, but he could also clear waivers and head back into the minor leagues.