You might think that fresh off a sweep of the Houston Astros I’m thinking about Matt Cain’s first start of the year? Or maybe, Edgar Renteria’s first 5 hit game since 1910. Nope. Instead, I was amazed by the lineup that the Astros used for most of the series. And not in a good way. With Berkman hurting, the Astros really look flat on offense right now.
Submitted for your approval, career wRC+ numbers between the Giants and Astros.
C: Molina (88) vs. Towles (62)
1B: Huff (112) vs. Blum (83)
2B: Uribe (81) vs. Matsui (93)
SS: Renteria (100) vs. Keppinger (91)
3B: Sandoval (140) vs. Feliz (84)
LF: DeRosa (102) vs. Lee (119)
CF: Rowand (106) vs. Bourn (91)
RF: Bowker (82) vs. Pence (117)
Blum and Keppinger in the same lineup as starters? Blech. It’s not the perfect comparison because using major league numbers will unfairly ding a player like J.R. Towles. His epically bad run in 2008 — 171 PA’s, .137/.250/.253 — ensures that his career line will be in the dumps for awhile, but he’s at least shown competency at times in the minor leagues. I might even start him over Molina if I had him on my team. It’s pretty clear that the Astros are hurting for offense right now. Pence and Bourn are a nice start to a solid outfield, but the team should try and move Carlos Lee if possible. He’s expensive — earning $18.5M per season over the next 3 years — and chocked full of old player skills. As a player that needs to hit the ball out of the park to be productive, his .189 ISO in 2009 isn’t exactly appealing. It’s still an above-average ISO, but if he’s not breaking the .200 mark, you might start to worry.
Somehow it feels wrong to nitpick another team’s offensive woes. As a fan of the Giants, it’s akin to laughing at a drowning man while neck deep in the same water. The Giants, as currently constructed, might have enough to eek out a league average offense, but the team will need a few breaks to do so. Maybe the biggest break this year for the Giants would be John Bowker showing that his improved plate approach in AAA Fresno wasn’t just smoke-and-mirrors. Bowker drilled a 2-run HR in today’s win against the Astros and if his new plate approach is for real, the Giants should dip Hensley Meulens in bronze.
I really hope we can dip Bam-Bam in bronze.