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Rather be in Philadelphia

Today, I have been trying to appreciate how good the Giants are. I’m not sure it’s working.

Here’s the thing: in the last year or two, Giants fans have forgotten about waiting for Boof Bonser. We know, of course, that there is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect, but we also knew that Timmy would save us, and he did. We knew that Madison Bumgarner would save us, and he did. We even knew that Buster would save us, and he did. We knew that Pablo Sandoval would save us, and (for a while) he did.

And it’s not like any of us are anything but grateful. Except about the Panda, of course. But Giants fans are utterly thrilled to have such good young players come up through our system and succeed in the majors. We don’t take it for granted, really we don’t.

There’s succeeding in the majors and then there’s Tim Lincecum.

Here’s a point, OK? I remember when Jason Grilli was drafted. And Nate Bump. Two first-round draft picks, 1997 and 1998. We traded them both for Livan Hernandez, who by the way was worth three wins in 2010, a dozen years later. Mssrs Grilli and Bump were a Giants success, in the sense that we received value for them, which we did, whatever our bitter memories say. But in terms of their own successes, well, Nate Bump did make it to the majors and pitched in a hundred and fifty games with Florida’s bullpen over three years. He is still pitching in the International League, according to The Baseball Cube, so there’s the fact that he has been paid for playing ball for a dozen years, even though it was only three years in the majors. I can’t call it a successful career, although of course these things are relative.

Jason Grilli, though, came up for a cup of coffee in 2000, and played in the majors through parts of 2009. True, it was an up-and-down sort of thing, but he appeared in 238 games (mostly out of the bullpen), and had one year (with the pennant-winning Tigers in 2006) when he was pretty darned good. He was never a star, but he was a useful player on a good team for a couple of years.

Tim Lincecum has won two Cy Young Awards.

See, what I’m saying. There’s success, and there’s Tim Lincecum.

And I think that, at least to some extent, that’s thrown my perceptions off, and I think a lot of other Giants fans, too. We know that our guys are good—I think a lot of us are, paradoxically, proud of the unjustified obscurity in which Matt Cain has been laboring so long—but we seem to take almost for granted that a prospect will either flame out altogether or be historically awesome. It’s hard for us to (for instance) accept that Nate Schierholtz is a success by rational standards. And we see Madison Bumgarner come up as a twenty-year-old and pitch a hundred innings with an ERA of 3.00, and we like it, I’m not saying we aren’t crazy about it, but I don’t think we are as blown away by the sheer shock of a twenty-year-old kid making eleven quality starts out of eighteen.

See, I have been saying all year that this team stinks. Yes, 90 games is the line between a good team and an OK team, and we passed that line. Yes, we are four wins from the pennant. But frankly, this team stinks. We scored eleven runs in four games against the Braves (mostly by the benefit of errors), and managed to win the series because the stinky Braves offense (depleted by injuries, which ours is not) only scored nine runs in four games. Line us up against the Phillies and you will see that they are better at 7 of the 8 positions, and not too shabby behind the plate, either. Yes, our starting pitching is terrific, and our bullpen is terrific, and I don’t expect to keep the Phillies down to two-and-a-quarter runs a game. Nor am I at all confident that we will improve our run-scoring against the Phillies pitching. The Giants are, maybe, an average offensive team, if they don’t swing at the outside slider. Which they do, all too often.

On the other hand, we have Tim Lincecum starting Game One, and then Matt Cain starting Game Two, and then Jonathan Sanchez starting Game Three—and then we have Madison Bumgarner starting Game Four. I have to think that having a fourth excellent starter to throw at the Phillies lineup has got to be a plus. Not that I think it will help our guys in Game Four to be seeing Doc Halladay again. Familiarity doesn’t breed that.

So. On the one hand, I tend to agree with the money, which calls the Phillies something from a two-to-one to a three-to-one favorite. After all, a team that can beat you two ways is just much more likely to win than a team that can only beat you one way. On the other hand, I need to attempt to appreciate that the Giants really can beat you by keeping runs from scoring, and that it’s awfully good to be the second-best team in the league—or the third-best, and I think it’s hard to argue that there are three National League teams better than the Giants. Unless you are BP’s adjusted standings, which count fifty runs we might have expected to have given up (based on equivalent runs) that did not, in fact, score against us. So maybe fourth-best.

See? I’m just saying, it’s hard to appreciate these Giants.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

to the simpler at heart, it looks like the giants & phillies split their six games this year, zito was one of the victims, and philly didn't sweep at home.


The big hits in that win over Doc Halladay were the first inning single by Mark DeRosa and the second inning double by Eli Whiteside that scored John Bowker. The next day Matt Downs hit a big homer for us in the second off Jamie Moyer. The next day, when we lost in extras, Nate Schierholtz got five hits.

I mean, yes, we showed that we can beat the Phillies, but I don't think Matt Downs is going to hit any homeruns off Jamie Moyer next week.

Thanks,
-V.


mumble mumble team mumble valuable lessons from braves series mumble


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