That according to Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds Report (subscription required). Their odds now sit at 29.2%, but to anyone who’s been watching the Giants for the last month, that number seems high by about 29%. The Giants are 10-20 over the last 30 games, and last night’s loss to the Cubs, wherein superhuman savior Tim Lincecum gave up 3 home runs, ranks as one of the most humiliating losses in a season rife with humiliating losses. The Giants could only muster 2 hits against a guy with an ERA in the 5’s, which also sounds eerily familiar.
But this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Giants’ offense was far below average before it was decimated with injuries. Even with Posey and Freddy Sanchez and Nate Schierholtz in the lineup, they were near the bottom in every offensive category, so take those guys away and, guess what? It gets even worse. Shock, dismay. Huff and Ross have returned to earth after last year’s miracle performances, and the previously bulletproof bullpen has gotten roughed up here and there. The Giants went all-in and acquired the best hitter available, Carlos Beltran, and it just didn’t pan out. (Can you imagine the outrage if they hadn’t added a bat at the deadline? People would be storming 24 Willie Mays Plaza with pitchforks right now.) And so we must bid farewell to any hope of the Giants defending their title.
I kinda predicted this here, although I thought it would be the Rockies that would unseat the Giants for the NL West crown this year. And I’m OK with it. The San Francisco Giants — the team I’ve supported more or less since I moved to the Bay Area 20-plus years ago — won the World Series last year. Flags fly forever, and hey, maybe I’ll be able to upgrade my season tickets next year as the furor dies down and the fair-weather fans find something else to do with their free time. I’ll still watch every game as the Giants play out the string, because I’m a baseball fan, and I can’t not watch. Hell, I watched every game of the 2005 season, and that was flat-out masochism. But I still look forward to watching Lincecum, Cain, and (most of all) Madison Bumgarner pitch every time they take the mound.
So it’s looking like 2011 is determined to become to lost season I predicted when Buster Posey went down. That sucks, but hey, the Giants won the World Series last year. And Buster Posey will be back next year, and so will that rotation. And in between now and then, the San Jose Giants have a chance to win another Cal League Championship. And Gary Brown is out of his goddamned mind right now, and I’ll probably get a chance to see him play in the Arizona Fall League. There was even chatter about him getting a September callup, which would be insane, and pretty damn cool.
So that’s a little perspective from a long-suffering Giants fan. No I’m not satisfied with the performance to this point, but the Giants were a flawed team whose best hitters sustained season-ending injuries. Shit happens. Baseball and life go on, and both continue to be awesome, except when they’re not. And even then, they are.
“I’m going to use him off the bench, [and with] double switches,” Bochy said.
“We needed Brandon,” he said. “When you’ve got the number of injuries we’ve had, the inventory gets a lot smaller.”
None of this makes a lick of sense. If anything, the Giants have a surfeit or outfielders: as it stands now, it’s tough finding at-bats for Schierholtz, Rowand, Burrell, Torres, and Ross.
Meanwhile Aubrey Huff is dead last among big-league first basemen in WAR — a full .5 wins behind the next guy, Daric Barton. Huff likely won’t continue this level of non-production for the whole year, and will probably bounce back and end up in positive WAR territory (he says, hopefully). But calling up Belt as a bench guy makes zero sense. The Giants’ injuries have depleted their infield depth at every infield position except first base.
The only way this makes sense is if Bochy’s story is a smoke screen to protect his struggling veteran; i.e. if the actual plan is to ease Belt in at first base if Huff continues to struggle. This cover story would allow Huff to save face and maybe keep him from pressing. Maybe I’m being naive and giving Bochy too much credit, but honestly, this is the only way to justify the Belt call-up.