“Biggest Series of the Season”
Whenever division rivals face off in a situation where one team can come out on top in the standings, the temptation to label it the “biggest series of the season” is ever-present. While I won’t downplay the importance of beating the Diamondbacks here, I will make the argument that these three games are far from the most important. Over the course of the rest of the season (after this series), the Giants play Philadelphia and Pittsburgh at home, Florida and Atlanta on the road, and then the Astros, followed by a homestand where we take on the Padres, the Astros again, and the Cubs. After a three game series against Arizona in the first week of September (also at home), we don’t play another team over .500 until Arizona again in late September.
The point I’m trying to make here is that the season comes down to more than these next three games. This series may set the tone for the next few weeks, but if the Giants survive the next week and a half, their schedule gets considerably easier from there. While a head-to-head matchup is the best way to gain or lose ground, ultimately the season will come down to how both teams perform when they’re not playing each other.
Now on to the fun stuff. There are still some glaring problems with this team that may be entirely fixable. First, let’s talk shortstop. With Orlando Cabrera coming over to San Francisco at the expense of Thomas Neal, the Giants now have two Miguel Tejadas. One can only hope that once Freddy Sanchez is back in September, he’ll slot right into second base, while Jeff Keppinger moves to shortstop, effectively eliminating the need for any Tejadas at all. As for Carlos Beltran’s immediate struggles, I’d say that’s nothing to worry about. The truth of the matter is that eventually he will hit, and that his bat makes this lineup infinitely better.
As for the much-maligned Brandon Belt situation, it appears as though things seem to be turning around. Aubrey Huff was sat for two consecutive games this weekend in favor of the young rookie, which represents a step in the right direction. Huff just came off of a roadtrip in two of the most live ballparks in baseball without a deep fly ball to warning track to show for it. I’m of the mind that maybe this may be enough to trend Huff out of the lineup. Of course I could be wrong and Huff may start every game for the next three weeks, but eventually he’s either going to start hitting again or he’s going to be relegated to bench duties. At some point enough will be enough.
With all the talk of the need for more staggeringly mediocre middle infielders, the search for a catcher has gone by the wayside, as the Reds were content to hold onto Ramon Hernandez at the deadline. Amidst the Hernandez speculation though, it has yet to be discussed that Max Ramirez hitting .365/.413/.625 at Fresno right now in just under 100 at-bats. He was once considered a top prospect in the Texas farm system and has since been forgotten, but given our lack of other options there wouldn’t be a whole lot of harm in giving him a shot.
Consider this to be the first day of the rest of the season. August was a month last year where the Giants fell flat on their collective faces, going 13-15 and needing a month of September where they lost just eight games in order to take the division. If they can come out of August alive, things can only get better from there.
NOTE: Here’s where I insert the obligatory Twitter/Facebook plug. Follow Croix De Candlestick on either or both–you can find them by clicking on the icons below.