Much to the delight of one of my roommates, the Pittsburgh Pirates are not the worst team in the majors this year (for once). That dubious honor belongs to the historically awful San Francisco Giants. I know much ink has been spilled in the Bay area and elsewhere about the woeful Giants but the horror of their play practically compels me to toss in my 2 cents. A few thoughts as the Giants embark on the season of a lifetime (because it will make you want to end yours):
1) Brian Sabean is an idiot. It was fairly obvious a few years ago that the nucleus of the team was aging rapidly and youth needed to be brought in to keep their franchise alive. I know that they got a shiny new ballpark and had to fill seats to pay it off. The best way would have been to look at the long-term health of the franchise to make sure it was in contention each year. Seriously, it wouldn't have been that hard. The NL West was, at the time, one of the weakest divisions in baseball (remember those just barely .500 Padres making the playoffs?). Now, due to Sabean's short sighted mismanagement, the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Dodgers are going to be far superior teams for at least the next 5 years if not more. All have to say to Sabean is: Thank you. You've justified every angry expletive I've uttered about your employment during the past few years.
2) Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain do not a team maketh. Yesterday, Tim Lincecum pitched brilliantly; Padres hitters looked overwhelmed at times. Matt Cain wasn't so good in his last start but he's a fine pitcher now and is only going to get better. But as good as they are, they are in for some incredibly frustrating days. You know the old saying that good pitching beats good hitting? Well, decent pitching and decent hitting beats good pitching and horrible hitting. If you don't score runs, you don't win no matter how good your starters are. And so Tiny Tim and Mournful Matt are going to have to learn to lose. Or find a place to get Prozac on the down low.
3) The Giants are going to lose at least 95 games. I know that most pre-season projections had them closer to 88-90 losses. But after watching this team fumble its way through the first week of the year, I had to revise their win-loss estimate down. Way down. As in, one of the worst teams ever, down. Now, this goes against all of my SABR background but just this once, I'm going to let my subjective judgment get the best of me. Why? Well, here are a couple reasons:
A) They have a bad manager who looks like he hates his life. Bruce Bochy has started to make the Bochy face, the managerial equivalent of the Derek Lowe face. He looks disgusted at his team, that sorry, sorry mix of washed up geezers, under-performing veterans, and glorified organizational players masquerading as prospects. Plus, he bunts when there are men on 1st and 2nd with no one out and one of his middle of the order guys is up. If that isn't a recipe for broken spirits and shattered egos, I don't know what is.
B) Brian Sabean has no idea how to work the current trade market. Now, it would be easy to bash Sabean for the A.J. Pierzynski for Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan trade (and can you imagine that Liriano was a throw-in on that trade?), it is far, far fairer to bash him for claiming that he doesn't want to trade away pitching while wanting to upgrade his hitting. Now, correct me if I'm wrong but the Giants basically have no hitting available at any level (apologies to Angel Villalona). Their farm system is as barren as any in the majors (2 top 100 prospects in BA's rankings). So basically, Sabean wants to get hitting but won't give up pitching. He doesn't have any hitting to trade and even if he did, it's unlikely that he would be able to get much more than an even split on any hitting trade if you take into account his horrible talent evaluation skills. He's created a closed system of suck. Garbage in, garbage out. And the end result? Losses. Lots and lots of losses.
4) My strategy of picking up the pitcher going against the Giants (if available) is working well. Randy Wolf went 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO. That's pretty good for waiver wire fodder even in mixed league. I'm sure Justin Germano will do fine tonight. For those of you who are in leagues that reward streaming, it is a good strategy. Hell, it might even be a great strategy! That's how little regard I have for these (not quite) Giants.