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2011 San Francisco Giants:
Itís Time to Send a Message

by Richard Van Zandt,
August 30, 2011

Ok, that is enough. Iíve seen just about all I can take. It is time, Brian Sabean, to send your team a loud and clear message. That itís time to put up, or shut up; time to start performing like the defending World Champions you are. The opportunity to repeat as World Champs doesnít come around every day and the Giantsí chances are slipping away, not by the day or even by the inning, but lousy at-bat by lousy at-bat.  Every pitch that goes sailing by the Giantsí hapless hitters sends the team closer and closer to going home for the winter and watching someone else take their crown away. 

The Giants, after losing 7-0 Monday to the Cubs and that nightís version of Cy Young, Randy Wells (complete game 2-hitter), have been shutout 13 times this season and have scored a major league low 454 runs, or just 3.36 per game.  Their team ERA in August is 3.11 even after their shellacking tonight, but they have gone just 10-17 this month because they have averaged a scant 2.67 runs per game. They have scored two or fewer runs in a game 15 times this month, losing 12 of those games, and are batting just .230 in August.

They faced a pitcher on Saturday in J.A. Happ of the Astros who entered the game with an ERA of 6.26 and a league-leading 14 losses and yet could manage to score just two runs against him. Madison Bumgarner has garnered the worst run support in the National League (2.94 r/gm) while Tim Lincecum (3.17) and Matt Cain (3.21) are 3rd and 4th respectively. 

Sure injuries have wracked the Giants up and down the roster (Carlos Beltranís wrist injury has made the deadline acquisition an easy prey for a high fastball), but that doesnít excuse the lack of production from veteran players such as Aubrey Huff (.243 BA/.677 OPS), Cody Ross (.233/.760), Andres Torres (.229/.658), Pat Burrell (.233/.760), Miguel Tejada (.237/.592), and Aaron Rowand (.233/.623).  Hitting slumps are said to be contagious, but this is getting ridiculous.  Something needs to be done and a message needs to be sent. Hereís how you do it.

To start with, itís time to cut ties permanently with Tejada and Rowand and bench Huff, Torres, and Ross.  Both Rowand and Tejada have been simply awful in the field (Rowand hasnít drawn a walk since July 5 and is has a slash line of .204/.204/.330 in that time frame) and both are said to be unhappy about their lack of playing time. I believe both have become negative forces in the clubhouse.  Releasing both players would not only send a loud and clear message throughout the clubhouse, but it would also open up room on the 40-man roster for two players who could potentially give the Giants the spark that they need, centerfielder Gary Brown and 1B/2B Brett Pill. 

Brown, the Giantsí top draft pick in 2010, has had an excellent debut season for Hi-A San Jose.  After going 4-for-5 on Monday night, he is batting .338/.407/.518 with 33 doubles, 13 triples, 12 home runs, 78 RBI, and 49 stolen bases for the junior Giants.  In his last nine games, the reigning Cal League player of the week, is 24-for-43 (.558) with six doubles, three triples, two homers and 12 RBI.  Last Thursday, Brown went 5-for-5 in an 11-5 win with two doubles and two home runs, the first of which led off the game and was a booming, majestic jaw-dropping blast deep into the San Jose twilight. 

Iíve had several opportunities to watch Brown play this season, and defensively, there is no doubt he can play in the big leagues today.  He covers a lot of ground and has a very strong and accurate arm for a centerfielder.  There is also no doubt in my mind that this kid is going to be a star centerfielder in the majors for a long time.

The Giants could use the kind of spark his bat at the top of the lineup could potentially provide right about now. Giving him a chance might be the Giants best option to get their offense going. If he hits like he has been, it might just push San Francisco back into the race and past the Diamondbacks the way they snuck by the Padres last season.  Promoting him for the final month-plus will not harm his long-term development. There is nothing to lose at this point but the title of reigning World Champions. At worst, you find out heís not quite ready and have him start the 2012 season with Fresno.  At best, he could keep the Giantsí chances of repeating from slipping away.

Pill, a seventh round pick in 2006, has blossomed this season for Triple-A Fresno, batting .313/.343/.528 with 36 doubles and 24 home runs while splitting time between first and second base for the Grizzlies.  He was the first professional player in 2011 to reach 100 RBI for the year (heís at 104 now) and his 279 total bases rank 2nd in the Pacific Coast League. 

Itís time to send a clear message to your team Brian before hope slips away completely. 

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Richard resides in San Francisco, California and can be reached at

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