The SF Giants at the All Star Break

I think that the Giants are one of the more interesting teams at the All-Star Break. At the time of this writing they are five games above the .500 mark and only four games back of first place. With half the season to go, anything can happen. This is part of what makes baseball exciting and fun. Ah, the dog days of summer. This is when pennant races get tight, some teams rise to the challenge, and some teams fold under the pressure.

Buster Posey Photo by Icon SMI

The dynamic of the team changed dramatically after the trade of Bengie Molina to the Rangers. This happened due to three significant changes. One, is that it gave more playing time to Buster Posey, who on the last road trip, showed power and prowess. Two, is that it gave more playing time to Travis Ishikawa at first base, who has come through big time! Three, is the arrival of starting pitcher Madison Bumgardner, who is starting to look like a big time pitcher.

Madison Bumgarner Photo by Icon SMI

I believe that the second half of the season depends on the consistency of the Giants’ starting pitching. What this means is that Lincecum (the ace), Cain and Zito must pitch the way that they are capable of pitching, and that Sanchez, and Bumgardner must step-up and do the job that they need to do. This is necessary for the Giants to make the play-offs.

Yes, I do, realize that this is only part of the puzzle that the Giants need in order to make the play-offs. There are two (at least) things that the Giants must do in the second half to have a successful season. One, is that they need to stop hitting into so many double plays, and two, is that the Giants need to do well in situational hitting. Situational hitting is what makes the difference between winning and losing tight ball games, and this is the difference between making the play-offs and being on the outside looking in come October.

Those players who slumped in the first half– Lincecum, Sandoval, and Aaron Rowarnd need to come out of their slumps and deliver in the second half. If they are able to do that, then the Giants may be able to compete to make the play-offs. And, in the play-offs, anything can happen, especially if you get a pitcher with a hot hand. This is something that the Giants have never had. If the Giants had a hot or dominant pitcher in past seasons, they would have won at least one World Series by now.

I do think that the Giants are lucky to be in the NL West where no team has jumped too far ahead. With the exception of Arizona, the other four teams are all within striking distance. San Diego has shown itself to be a tough team with very solid pitching. The Padres may fade to a lack of play-off experience. Colorado is waiting in the wings waiting for their All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitski to come back from injury. The Dodgers are still in the pennant race with some strong hitters (Andre Either, Matt Kemp and James Loney), but I’m not sure that they have the staying power (i.e. pitching) to stay in the pennant race. I was relieved to see Cliff Lee go the Texas Rangers and not to the Dodgers or any other NL West team. So, the question does become: why not the Giants? One thing that the Giants must do is play better (get some wins) against the teams in their own division. The Giants have no problem against the NL Central or NL East.

There have also been rumors that the Giants and Brewers are talking abut a possible trade for outfielder Corey Hart. The Brewers want number four starter lefty Jonathon Sanchez. I don’t think that the Giants or Brian Sabean want to deal Sanchez since it would weaken their pitching rotation. Could the Giants use another bat? Yes, they could, but would it weaken the team too much by trading one of their starters, albeit Sanchez is an inconsistent one. This is why baseball trade decisions are so difficult and complex.

Well, with it being the half way point of the season we shall see what happens with the Giants and the rest of the league during the next few months. I am excited to see what happens. Go get’m Giants!!

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