It’s a depressing fact, but here goes: this year’s ball club is unlikely to make the playoffs. After sitting in the 80-90% range for most of the year, the Giants’ playoff odds have dropped all the way down to a meager 12.4%, so sayeth Baseball Prospectus. This past weekend series against the D-Backs was crucial, but in the end, the Giants could only muster a single win as the team fell seven games out of first place in the West.
I think when everything is said and done, we’ll remember the 2011 Giants as a team with great pitching, lousy hitting, and injuries, oh lord, the injuries.
But, while things look bleak now, the Giants should focus on 2012 as 2011 winds down. Here’s quick list of things I’d like to see the team do over the next 20-something games of baseball.
1. Continue to get Brandon Belt at-bats:
Belt’s strikeout rate has spiked lately (27.5%), but the Giants owe it to themselves to see if he can make any adjustments over the remainder of the season. Ideally, Belt would finish the year strong to give the Giants a better idea of what they should do with him next year. For me, it’s hard to tell if Belt is just in a slump or if pitchers are exploiting holes in his swing. The Giants would be doing themselves a favor if they can gather more data on Belt before 2012; Belt is a cheap bat with the chance for average to above-average production next year. That’s a valuable asset to have in your back pocket, and outside of Gary Brown, Belt is probably the best young offensive player in the organization right now.
2. Back off the pitchers:
I’m sure Bochy is tempted to press on the gas with his rotation, but for many of the Giants pitchers, last year was a career high in innings pitched. Matt Cain threw 223.1 innings in the regular season with another 21.1 in the postseason; Tim Lincecum threw 212.1 innings with another 37 in the postseason; Madison Bumgarner threw 82.2 innings in the minors, 111 in the majors, and 20.2 in the postseason; Ryan Vogelsong is currently at 154.1 innings — especially scary since he threw a total of 202 innings over the past three years combined.
Major cogs of the bullpen — Wilson and Romo — have both missed time this year with Wilson being the most concerning. The bearded closer has lost velocity and his walk-rate has spiked. I don’t know if those are signs of a more serious injury in waiting, but closers often have a short shelf life, and no one seems to know what’s going on with Wilson right now.
3. Check out the call-ups:
Orlando Caberera is history’s greatest monster, why not find out if Brandon Crawford has learned anything at Fresno — though, I warn you, his stats would say otherwise. Jeff Keppinger runs like a wounded seal, let’s try out Conor Gillaspie at second base. Can Steve Edlefsen get out lefties in the majors? Let’s give him a shot. Surkamp should get another start before the team shuts him down.
There aren’t many interesting players in the call-up group (Hector Sanchez maybe, but he’s still probably a ways off), but there are a couple of players who could be useful to the 2012 Giants. Let’s check them out.
Comment starter: What should the Giants do over the remainder of the season?