As I mentioned, Barry Zito's complete collapse in the last game before the All Star break, the day after Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter, was a cold slap in the face to a team on a roll. Now, having lost three of four since the brak, (four of five, overall), the Giants are looking up at the Rockies, who are playing some serious baseball right about now.
The last four games have really made it clear that the team has no hitter that makes the opposing pitcher nervous at all; no one who creates the pressure or puts them in a situation where it really matters if the pitcher walks the hitter, or if he just wants to pump another fastball over the plate. Even the Kung Fu Panda, because of his willingness to swing at so many bad pitches, can be dealt with, as long the bases are empty.
Its games like these that make it clear that for the Giants to contend through the dog days of August, another bat is a must. Jay Jaffe, over at Baseball Prospectus, thinks the Giants are in for a tough run:
…. Among contenders, the Giants have the hardest row to hoe—much harder than the Rockies, their closest rivals for the NL Wild Card. The 19-point gap (in opponents winning percentage) between the two teams is the equivalent of 1.3 games in the standings over the remaining schedule.
Problem is, there doesn't seem to be much out there, you know, like, say, a 29-year old who's hit 40 home runs each of the last five years, who costs about as much per season as, say Renteria. ;-)
UPDATE: Make that six of seven. The team's freefall is
so overwhelming, even the Freak isn't immune. The decision to avoid Garret Anderson –first base was open, gotta love that endless Krukow optimism– and pitch to one of the hottest hitters alive in that fateful third inning was patently ridiculous. Sure, Anderson's a good hitter, but he's no Pujols. They could have shaken hands the minute that pitch left the yard, because that game was over.
Oh, and as for Adam Dunn being “slightly better-than-average,” his .400 OBP would be the best on the Giants by about fifty points (other than the Panda), and with 24 home runs and 73 walks, I mean, are you serious?
He's got the tenth best OBP in the NL, the fifth most home runs, the 7th best OPS, the 6th most RBI, 9th best SLG…. what more could you ask of a hitter than to be in the top ten in every single important offensive category? He's an absolute beast, and his $8 million dollar salary this season is exactly what we're paying Renteria. For all the hand-wringing about how weak Dunn's defense is, Renteria's been pretty crappy with the glove to go with his complete lack of offense, speed, and pretty much anything other than “veteran leadership,” whatever the fuck that is.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox got Adam LaRoche from the Pirates, a real hitter in some serious decline, for a bag of used baseballs. I'm sure we couldn't have come up with a package of nobodies to get a guy with more home runs than all but one of the players on our team, right?