I wrote a quick blurb for the mothership blog that was posted yesterday on the Giants’ second-half needs.
What needs to be fixed or accomplished in the second half?
The offense. Plain and simple, the Giants will need to score more runs if they want to stay in the mix for a playoff spot. It’s become a tiresome subject for the team, but San Francisco’s deficiencies on offense become more apparent every day. Key players have struggled (Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Miguel Tejada) or been hurt (Freddy Sanchez, Buster Posey, Mark DeRosa).
Top item on shopping list?
Upgrading catcher is a major priority. The Eli Whiteside (.674 OPS) and Chris Stewart (.545 OPS) combination has been, as expected, far below average. Even a marginal upgrade such as Yorvit Torrealba could add a win or two to the roster. In addition, the team also should consider upgrading at second base. It’s unlikely that Sanchez will return, and a player such as Jamey Carroll could help the overall talent level at minimal cost.
Player to watch.
Even though he struggled to start the year, Brandon Belt is still a highly regarded prospect and one of the few potential average to above-average bats in the system. Once he returns from his rehab assignment, the Giants should turn him loose for 250 at-bats in the second half.
–Chris Quick, Bay City Ball
The boilerplate blogpost for this season has been: the offense isn’t good, the pitching is amazing, we need catcher help, and please god, let Brandon Belt get some playing time.
The offense will most likely continue to be problematic in the short term. Though, there are some points of hope, mainly in the hot-hitting Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval is on his way to Jack Clark’s San Fransisco record hitting streak (26 consecutive games in 1978), and a quick look at his ISO chart on FanGraphs is a welcome sight — Pablo’s power is on the upswing. That’s remarkable news for Sandoval. His power dipped in 2010 and it’s good to see him driving the ball again.
In last night’s game, Aubrey Huff’s dramatic huge home run off Padres’ closer, Heath Bell, should also give us a tiny bit of hope. It’s hard to go any lower than Huff’s current season (.287 wOBA). If Huff plays up to his rest-of-season projection by ZiPS (.336 wOBA) the Giants would take it, easy. And, I’ve seen it mentioned in numerous places that Huff has done better in his career in the second half — .778 OPS to .852 OPS. I don’t think we can assume that Huff is going to flick a switch and improve drastically just because it’s the second half. That seems a little silly. We’ve got to consider things such as his age, as well as other factors that go into the mix. But, I would think that on some level, there’s some potency left in Huff’s bat, and if he can summon a month or two of 2010 Aubrey Huff, well, that would be great.
The pitching should still lead the way, but don’t make the mistake of thinking they can help carry an offense that is this bad on most nights. A big reason why the Giants made the postseason last year was the inclusion of a league average offense. Read that again: league average. It’s hard to think that any amount of pitching dominance can carry an offense that’s ranked 15th or 16th in the National League. Yes, the results have been good on paper to this point, and some of the projection systems still adore the Giants, but the team’s success in one run games seems unsustainable to me.
I’m sure that at some point in the second half Brian Sabean will add a couple of pieces to the team. What he decides to add, and how much he spends will be covered in a blog post soon.