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Giants 2011 Season Floats at the Edge of the Abyss

While it is foolish to announce on September 1st that the Giants’ 2011 season is over, that season is officially on life support and the Arizona Diamondbacks are reaching out to pull the plug. There are 25 games left in a season that no longer depends on the San Francisco Giants winning games; now the D’Backs must also lose games.

As it stands today, San Francisco is in 2nd place (72-65) , 6 games behind Arizona in the standings. If Arizona goes 12-13 in their last 25 games to finish at 90-72, the Giants would have to go 18-7 in their last 25 just to tie. That’s asking for some serious divine intervention at a time when God is focusing on the NFL and busy trying to distance Himself from several Republican presidential candidates.

Is it possible, has this level of baseball magic ever been done before? Absolutely. The only realistic chance San Francisco has at this point is to slam Arizona in their upcoming 3 game weekend series at AT&T Park, and again when the two teams meet September 23-25 at Arizona. Those remaining six games with the Snakes take on an almost otherworldly importance for the Giants’ survival. And they can’t just do really well, they have to sweep like they’ve never swept before.

Listen: even if the Giants take 2 of 3 this weekend at AT&T Park they will still be 5 games out in 2nd place. But if the weekend grudge match goes the other way, the 2010 World Champions would start to spiral fully out of control. The month of September could easily begin to mirror their horrific 11-18 record in August and the surging Dodgers could actually dump the Giants into third place. It’s unthinkable, but LA at 65-70 is now only 6 games behind San Francisco.

Back to the most important question about the San Francisco Giants and the last month of the 2011 MLB season. Can this Giants team get it done? Yes, thanks to their amazing pitching; but moves to improve their chances may have been taken several months too late.

The Giants front office just designated Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada for assignment, effectively ending their careers in San Francisco. The Giants still owe Rowand $12.5 million in 2012 but thankfully managed to get tied up with Tejada for just one year and $6.5 million. But Rowand should have been cut prior to the start of the season and the Tejada experiment imploded early on yet he was still playing the infield through August.

Even before we see what happens in the next four weeks, and despite the rash of injuries, the Giants front office has a lot to answer for. I will forever honor Brian Sabean as the major architect of the Giants 2010 World Series victory– it is a lifetime achievement that few can match. But Sabean’s 20th century baseball mindset doomed the Giants to four dismal losing seasons from 2005-08, and only four first place finishes (plus 1 wildcard) in his 16 year tenure.

The 2011 season is a perfect illustration of Sabean’s liabilities as a GM: a reluctance to bring up talented young players; his reliance on past-their-prime high priced veterans; burdening the team’s outstanding young starting pitchers with substandard infield defense; and an old school mistrust and disregard for the high tech statistical revolution that swept through most Major League Baseball front offices ten years ago.

But there will be plenty of time later for whining, post-apocalyptic analysis. Right now it’s all about the 2011 San Francisco Giants. It’s about the Giants winning ballgames and forcing Arizona into a corner by sweeping the six games remaining between the two teams. It’s about doing the nearly impossible and charging headlong on to glory…

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