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A 3D Cluster In Pittsburgh

The San Francisco Giants lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 on Saturday June 5th in Pittsburgh.

So here’s the party line we’re supposed to buy and eat whole as far as the Giants are concerned: they were down 6-3 with two out in the top of the 9th inning, but it’s OK because Giants second baseman Freddie Sanchez hit a long fly ball out with the bases loaded. That fly ball was caught by a Major League baseball player making a Major League play, but the Giants would have gone ahead if the Pirates’ outfielder didn’t catch it. So it was close, and that makes everything cool, right?

Actually, no– and what is happening to the Giants this year is making me one angry puppy. This game with the Pirates was a classic black hawk down, iceberg dead ahead, major clusterf**k. And it was screwed up by the Giants way before the first pitch of the game was thrown by Pirates starter Pat Maholm.

How, you ask?

1. The team continues to stand by Todd Wellemeyer as the 5th starter, and no one can figure out why. The only possible answer I can come up with is that Wellemeyer has a rare photo of Giants owner Bill Neukom wearing a straight woolen tie; or a photo of Neukom doing something that involves sheep. It is the only reasonable explaination.

In the start against Pittsburgh, Wellemeyer went three innings, gave up six earned runs and walked three. His 2010 season record is now 3-5 with a 5.72 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP, which is 86 hits+walks in 52 innings. In fifty-two innings! This projects out to a 9-15 record for the season, so we apparently have at least ten more Wellemeyer losses to look forward to.

Forget about which name to bring up from Fresno or San Jose. In the on-field (and apparently off-field) words of Tiger Woods, “Just do it.”

2. Giants Manager Bruce Bochy’s tragic case of Line-up Disorder Syndrome [see my June 1st post] has now gone viral. In the game against the Pirates, Bochy batted Pablo Sandoval 8th, aging shortstop Juan Uribe 3rd, and aging, plodding catcher Bengie Molina clean-up. Oh, and Bochy also batted newly sign DH Pat Burrell 6th in the order ahead of Buster Posey.

I hardly know where to start.

a) Pat Burrell earned a spot on the team, and start in this game, by batting .221 as Tampa Bay’s fulltime DH in 2009. Burrell was batting .202 when the Rays decided three weeks ago that it was better to dump him from the team and eat his $9 million salary rather than keep him. That’s when the Giants picked him up for, essentially, free. I mean, free is good, right?

So Burrell batted ahead of Buster Posey, who is hitting .444 after his first week with the Giants his year. Burrell went 1 for 4 with a strike-out. And Burrell played outfield in the game instead of Nate Schierholtz or Aaron Rowand.

b) Bengie Molina, with 12 RBIs and a .250 average, batted 4th in the line-up. When Molina was tried in the clean-up slot before, at the end of April, he had 10 RBIs. When they finally moved him out of batting clean-up in mid-May, Molina had 12 RBIs. But the worst aspect of Molina batting clean-up is that, four or five times each game, the heart of the batting order is clogged up with his incredible lack of speed and ugly propensity to be part of double-plays. Note to anyone who will listen: please make it stop.

c) Manager Bochy has issues with Pablo Sandoval’s hitting, and the Panda’s month-long slump. But Bochy is old school, so instead of actually sitting down and communicating with his player directly, Bochy decided he would teach Sandoval a lesson by batting him 8th in the line-up against Pittsburgh. That would show Sandoval who’s boss, and get his mind right. Sandoval responded by going 1 for 4.

d) Juan Uribe has been a great producer for the Giants in 2010: 31 RBIs, 8 home runs, steady in the field. But Uribe was signed to be a supersub– working the infield when players needed a rest or got injured, allowing the Giants to not lose a step when one of the regulars wasn’t playing. But once Uribe started hitting, the desperate-for-hitting Bochy found it irresistible not to play him every day.

Making Juan Uribe a regular weakens the overall plan for the 2010 team, and it will eventually wear Uribe down. He has great heart, and he is a great fastball hitter, but he cannot carry this team offensively every day. Batting third against the Pirates, Uribe went 0 for 4.

3. It took the run-challenged Giants one third of the season to finally bring Buster Posey up, and Bochy has already hinted that Posey may have to go down when/if Mark DeRosa and Edgar Renteria rejoin the line-up! But the real problem here is that Bochy continues to treat his younger players like delicate little leaguers: when Nate Schierholtz was hitting .360 in the 8th spot a month ago he couldn’t be moved up in the order because that might jinx his streak. Posey bats 7th (or 6th) in the line-up because he’s young and can’t handle the responsibility of hitting 4th or 5th.

This is baseball management from the 1930s, only without all the wins. The Giants should at least consider slowly inserting 21st century baseball management and planning into the mix to see if that might work. But until then, remember the party line: we came close, and isn’t that cool?

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